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Presidential Campaign Communication: The Quest for the White House

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4608-4
256 pages
March 2010, Polity
Presidential Campaign Communication: The Quest for the White House (0745646085) cover image
Presidential Campaign Communication is designed to help readers understand and appreciate more fully the ways that the people of the United States use the process of human communication to select their Presidents. It explores presidential politics as one of the things about which Americans talk, thereby building relationships and redefining communities and shaping public identities and priorities.

The book highlights three major areas:

  • Presidential Campaigns as Communication – A consideration of the ways in which Constitutional requirements create political challenges that can only be met by influencing people through communication. Relevant communication theories are introduced and applied to frame the communication challenges facing candidates, voters and the media.
  • Stages of the Campaign for the White House – Presidential campaigns evolve through identifiable stages – from surfacing through the primaries and nomination to resolution in the Electoral College. Each stage presents a different set of communication dynamics and challenges for the participants, and different ways for observers to understand the progress being made.
  • Modes of Presidential Campaign Communication. – Laws and rules, political debates, campaign speeches, advertising, news coverage, email and "You Tube" provide political actors with a variety of ways to shape the campaign's evolution.

Written with verve and clarity, and illustrated with varied examples including the 2008 campaigns, Presidential Campaign Communication is required reading for all students of politics and the media, and for anyone seeking to understand more fully the system of democracy in the United States, and the central role that communication plays therein.

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  • Contents
  • Part I: General Election Campaign Strategy
  • Chapter 1: Presidential Campaigns as Communication
  • Chapter 2: The Rhetorical Puzzle
  • Chapter 3: The Rules are Rhetorical Constructions
  • Chapter 4: Perspectives on Campaign Media
  • Synthesizing Part I
  • Part II: Modes of Presidential Campaign Communication
  • Chapter 5: Acclaiming, Attacking and Defending
  • Chapter 6: Campaign Speeches
  • Chapter 7: Campaign Journalism
  • Chapter 8: Advertising Candidates in the Political Market
  • Chapter 9: Televised Presidential Debates: The Rhetorical Super Bowl
  • Chapter 10: Using New Media for Familiar Puzzles
  • Synthesizing Part II
  • Part III : The Stages of the Campaign for the White House
  • Chapter 11: The Surfacing Stage
  • Chapter 12: The Nomination Stage
  • Chapter 13: The Consolidation Stage
  • Chapter 14: The Election Stage
  • Synthesizing Part III
  • Conclusion: The Quest for the White House
  • Bibliography
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Craig Allen Smith is Professor of Communication at North Carolina State University.
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• Major textbook introduction to the ways that the people of the US use the process of human communication to select their Presidents
• Looks at the function and effects of talk about American presidential politics in everyday life.
• Takes the reader through each stage of a campaign for the White House, and shows the fundamental role of communication at each point
• Fully grounded in examples from campaigns up to and including the 2008 race
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"Contains much useful information for political studies students and political communication practitioners, and provides an interesting behind-the-scenes account of important political events of our time."
Discourse and Communication

"Craig Allen Smith has written a first-rate book. Anyone looking for an undergraduate text in campaign communication should have this book at the top of their list."
Martin J. Medhurst, Baylor University

"Craig Allen Smith's Presidential Campaign Communication provides a thorough and insightful analysis of the role that communication plays in US presidential campaigns. Smith combines knowledge of the practical aspects of presidential politics with understanding of the relevant theories and principles of communication and rhetoric. This book deserves the attention of students and scholars as well as candidates and political campaign practitioners."
Mitchell S. McKinney, University of Missouri

"This is a compelling book and a must for all scholars and students of presidential campaigns and political communication. Professor Smith's rich background provides a cogent context for an unparalleled perspective on presidential campaigns."
Gregory Payne, Emerson College


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