I can't get enough of these books that explain politics without pandering, name-calling or are extremely biased.
Samuel Popkin takes us through the definitions of U.S. President candidates and how the winners win while the supposed winner loses. You won't get the party-line or the typical, "here's how that scumbag tricked us" lines you expect in political books.
The first part is abstract in just the terms while sporadically bringing in real-life examples of past candidates. He explains the different types of campaigns a candidate can run. There are only so many to choose: Challenger, Incumbant. Experience/Stability, Outsider/Reformer It's the latter part of the book that is truly excellent.
Popkin explores President George H.W. Bush's messed up re-election candidacy, Hillary Clinton's micromanaged "inevitable" campaign, and Al Gore's complete meltdown.
You'll read how George W. Bush was able to beat the successor during a time of peace and wealth; how Rudy Giuliani was the winner in all the polls until he actually started running and how a number of other candidates just could not connect, or hold on to their mojo. You'll even get to see how President Obama used the new media and bottom-up mentality to throw off Hillary Clinton's dreamteam.
In the end, Popkin points to Ronald Reagan in order to teach future candidates how to handle miscues, mistakes and misfires.
A fantastic read during this Presidential cycle.