The road to the White House is littered with geniuses of campaigns past. Why doesn't practice make perfect? Why is experience such a poor teacher? Why are the same mistakes replayed again and again?
Political scientist Samuel Popkin answers those questions in The Candidate: What it Takes to Win -- and Hold -- the White House on Tuesday, September 11, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
Drawing on a lifetime of presidential campaign experience and extensive research, Popkin explains how challengers get to the White House, how incumbents stay there for a second term, and how successors hold power for their party.
He looks in particular at three campaigns -- George H.W. Bush's muddled 1992 reelection effort, Al Gore's flawed 2000 campaign for the presidency, and Hillary Clinton's mismanaged effort to win the 2008 Democratic nomination -- and uncovers the lessons that Ronald Reagan can teach future candidates about teamwork.
While a presidential challenger can quickly adjust and adapt, Popkin compares an incumbent's campaign to a battleship that moves slowly and makes large waves. Instead of a core inner circle calling the shots from a "war room," a president's re-election team must coordinate with White House staffers and the president's cabinet, all of whom have agendas difficult to change, control, or coordinate.
"No one I know has more closely studied the link between the minds of voters and the machinery of Presidential campaigns than Sam Popkin," writes ABC chief political correspondent George Stephanopoulos. "He's a scholar who has worked in war rooms, a strategist who knows his history. In The Candidate, Professor Popkin teaches us what he's learned -- the surprising secrets that separate winning campaigns from the ones that crash and burn."
Popkin has been a consulting analyst in numerous presidential campaigns, including those of Bill Clinton and Al Gore, and has developed survey design and analysis for CBS News election units. He is a professor of political science at the University of California - San Diego. Among his books are The Reasoning Voter: Communication and Persuasion in Presidential Campaigns, Issues and Strategies: The Computer Simulation of Presidential Campaigns, and Chief of Staff: Twenty-Five Years of Managing the Presidency.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP online  or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available at the Library District Parking Garage on 10th & Baltimore.
Major funding for programs at the Kansas City Public Library is provided by a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.