You are here

Inside Campaigns

Inside Campaigns
Elections through the Eyes of Political Professionals

Second Edition

July 2018 | 368 pages | CQ Press

"Inside Campaigns: Elections Through the Eyes of Political Professionals is essential reading not only for students interested in running campaigns and for journalism students who want to cover politics, but for campaign operatives generally and journalists who want to raise the level of their game. In fact, it’s good reading for everybody."
—Thomas B. Edsall, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism

"Much of our useful knowledge sits at the intersection of disciplines.  Inside Campaigns demonstrates that through a skillful combination of political science with management in a highly readable and practical format. A first for this field!"
—Leonard A. Schlesinger, Baker Foundation Professor-Harvard Business School, President Emeritus-Babson College

Inside Campaigns, Second Edition takes readers on a journey into the world of campaign managers. Powered by scores of interviews and surveys of political professionals, the book considers the purpose, potency, and poetry of modern political campaigns in the US. The expert author team draw from years of scholarly research and professional campaign experience to guide readers on a behind-the-scenes tour of the ways campaigns are managed, the strategies that are employed, the roles played by both staff and the candidates, and the affects election outcomes have on American democracy. Readers will develop an understanding of what campaigns do and why they matter, as well as gain practical skills for working in a campaign or advocating for a cause. 


New to the Second Edition: 

  • A case study created from an in-depth interview with Bernie Sanders’ top digital decision-makers describes how the Sanders’ campaign used digital media to harness the energy of their highly motivated base supporters. This case shows students a real-life campaign decision-making situation, and demonstrates how campaigns use new digital media to drive traditional news media coverage.

  • A unique joint interview with the top media buyers from the Clinton and Trump campaigns reveals how each campaign tracked the other’s advertising and adjusted their own advertising based on competitive tracking information. This interview illustrates to students how modern campaigns use media tracking technologies to monitor their opposition and spend tens of millions of dollars at the presidential level.

  • A top Trump digital manager shares inside details of how the Republican National Committee moved quickly to help build out the Trump digital operations after it was clear that Trump would be the party’s presidential nominee. This insight helps students understand how the Trump campaign answered, “What do we tell them?” by testing messages online, including recycling Trump’s personal tweets in instant messages and emails.

  • The differences between how the Clinton and Trump campaigns managed the news media are highlighted in a case study of one journalist’s experiences covering both campaigns. This case study helps the student build skills for becoming a “spinmeister” who handles day-to-day relationships with the news media. The authors’ research surprisingly reveals that, behind the scenes, Trump was much more available to reporters than Clinton, despite Trump’s continuous public attacks on the “fake news media.”
List of Tables, Figures, and Boxes
Chapter 1. Losing and Winning: The Craft and Science of Political Campaigns
A Tale of Two Managers

Learning and Experimenting

Why Campaign Managers Do It

What Campaigns Do

The Roles and Goals of a Campaign Manager

Chapter 2. Political Math
The Fundamentals

The Role of Fundamentals: From Demographics to Party ID

Share and Performance

Blue Wall Math


Chapter 3. Political Historian and Data Scientist: Charting a Path to Victory through Information and Analysis The Secret Ballot Problem
Focus Groups, Polls, and Other Forms of Information Gathering

Who Do We Need?

How Do We Reach Them?

What Do We Tell Them?

How Are We Doing?

What Are Our Opponents and Allies Doing?


Chapter 4. Entrepreneur and Chief Financial Officer: Launching and Sustaining the Campaign
Spending and Margins

The Money Advantage

How Money Matters (Decisions)

“The Nightmare of All Campaigns” (Fundraising)


Chapter 5. Team Builder: Embracing the Personal Side of Politics
Team Building in Trump’s Organization

Jen Pihlaja

Team Builder: “A Big Cheerleader”

Chapter 6. Ideologist and Policy Wonk: Standing for Something
“An Altitude of 30,000 Feet”

Clinton as Policy Wonk

Campaign Manager as Policy Wonk

The Frustrated Policy Wonk


Chapter 7. Marketing Maven: Reaching the Campaign’s Target Voter Audiences
“What Are They Doing?” Competitive Media Tracking in the 2016 Presidential Race

What Are Gross Rating Points? Learning the Basic Math of Media

“How many GRP’s do we have?”

"How Many Gross Rating Points Do I Need?”

The Business of Political TV Advertising

Today’s Media Mix: More than TV

Chapter 8. Producer and Stage Manager: Creating and Presenting the Campaign’s Messages
Producing a 4 a.m. Media Event

The Making of the “Guru Spot”

What Do We Tell Voters?

How the Message Matters

Why Campaigns “Go Negative”

“A Hugging Contest?”: Why Negative Ads Affect Election Margins

Going Negative in a Primary

Responding to Negative Attacks


Chapter 9. Spinmeister: Navigating the News Landscape
Spinmeister Turned Reporter: A Case Study

Cautious Clinton versus Risk-taking Trump

A Failure of Crisis Management: “Let Herman be Herman”

Inoculation: Preparing for Bad News

How Do We Reach Them? What Do We Tell Them?

“Your Best Friend or Your Worst Enemy”

Earned Media

Digital and Social Media

The Changing News Landscape

Making News with Both New Media and Old Media

Chapter 10. Field General: Waging the War on the Ground
How Do We Reach Them?

The Two-Step Process: Deciding to Vote and Voting for or against a Candidate

“Old-Fashioned Grunt Work”


Chapter 11. Strategy Enforcer and Team Builder: Keeping a Day-to-Day Focus on the Long-Term Path to Victory
James Carville: Losing Before Winning

Clinton-Gore 1992: “The Best Campaign Ever”

Keeping the Campaign Team on Strategy

Inheriting a Team: Executing a Strategy

Strategy Enforcer in the Age of Super Political Action Committees

How Are We Doing?

Chapter 12. Candidate Caretaker and Confidant: Handling Details and Building Trust
Becoming Indispensable

The Buffer and the Concierge

Building Trust: “Jimmy, Here’s What We Need to Do”

Building the Relationship


Managing the Candidate’s Family

Losing and Winning: When the Campaign Ends

Appendixes: Teaching and Research Resources
Appendix A. Campaign Manager Survey Questionnaire Library
Appendix B. Interview with Doug Bailey
Appendix C. Manager Profile—Katie Merrill: Managing in the California Big Leagues
Appendix D. Manager Profile—Reed Galen: Just Say No
Appendix E. The Audacity of Smoke: The Rise and Fall of the Unorthodox Herman Cain Campaign
About the Authors

“I was impressed not only by the purpose of the authors—to bring real-world perspectives to the study of an immensely important part of the overall topic of campaigns and elections—but also by their fascinating take on the debate over the degree to which campaigns matter.”

Malcolm Cross
Tarleton State University

“The content is built upon what many real professional think is most critical in campaigns. The voice of the campaign professionals comes through.”

Joseph A. Kunkel III
Minnesota State University Mankato

“[The] extensive interviews that the authors did with campaign managers [result] in an insider view that is typically not present in a book written by political scientists.”

Travis Ridout
Washington State University

“Complicating issues are explained clearly for even the novice political science student.”

Adam Silver
Emmanuel College

“The use of testimony and statements from practitioners, who are well-known and less well-known, provides the book with an air of authenticity.”

Adam Silver
Emmanuel College

"Much of our useful knowledge sits at the intersection of disciplines. Inside Campaigns demonstrates that through a skillful combination of political science with management in a highly readable and practical format. A first for this field!"

Leonard A. Schlesinger
Baker Foundation Professor-Harvard Business School, President Emeritus-Babson College

For instructors

Purchasing options

Please select a format:

ISBN: 9781544316741

SAGE Knowledge is the ultimate social sciences digital library for students, researchers, and faculty. Hosting more than 4,400 titles, it includes an expansive range of SAGE eBook and eReference content, including scholarly monographs, reference works, handbooks, series, professional development titles, and more.

The platform allows researchers to cross-search and seamlessly access a wide breadth of must-have SAGE book and reference content from one source.

SAGE Knowledge brings together high-quality content from across our imprints, including CQ Press and Corwin titles.