The Politics of Authenticity in Presidential Campaigns, 1976–2008


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About the Book

“Authenticity,” the dominant cultural value of the baby boom generation, became central to presidential campaigns in the late 20th century. Beginning in 1976, Americans elected six presidents whose campaigns represented evolving standards of authenticity. Interacting with the media and their publics, these successful presidential candidates structured their campaigns around projecting “authentic” images and connecting with voters as “one of us.” In the process, they rewrote the political playbook, redefined “presidentiality,” and changed the terms of the national political discourse. This book is predicated on the assumption that it is worth knowing why.

About the Author(s)

Erica J. Seifert is a senior associate at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a public opinion consulting firm in Washington, D.C. She has conducted research for Democracy Corps, and also for National Public Radio, the Los Angeles Times, Women’s Voices Women Vote, the Campaign for America’s Future, and the Public Campaign Action Fund. She lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Erica J. Seifert
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 271
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6996-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9109-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Preface      1
Note on Sources      9
Introduction      15

1. People Just Like Us: 1976      37
2. There You Go Again…: 1980      58
3. Morning in America: 1984      79
4. Belgian Endives, Quiche Out of a Can: 1988      101
5. The Man from Hope: 1992      126
6. In the Kitchen with Bill: 1996      150
7. Hanging Chad: 2000      171
8. Flip- Flopping: 2004      193

Conclusion      207
Chapter Notes      211
Bibliography      245
Index      259

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Recommended”—Choice
  • “Explores how the concept of authenticity became central to presidential campaigns…Seifert makes a good case for the idea that controlling how people relate to candidates might be the surest way to win votes and is more important than economic policies and international diplomacy”—Library Journal
  • “Well researched and notated”—Reference & Research Book News