The year after a presidential campaign: almost as good as the thing itself

Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the
Future of Elections in America
by Dan Balz
My heart was happy
when I saw that it’s already time for the presidential election recap books to
begin appearing.

Me and Joe — we go way back

I know. It’s sick.

The thing is, this
book—and heck, this election—had a lot to live up to. Because my benchmark for
this type of thing is the spectacular Game Change: Obama and the Clintons,McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime.
That 2008 election
was probably the best I’ll ever see, and Heilemann’s and Halperin’s take on it
was so blasted fun to read.
So Collision 2012 had its work cut out for
it. And, given the material offered by 2012, it was unlikely to reach the level
of bliss-inducement offered by Game
Change
. And, sure enough, it just didn’t get there. But it wasn’t the fault
of the author; the 2012 election just didn’t get as thrilling as 2008, and the
cast of characters was way less quirky. We can blame history, guys.  
There were moments
when this book almost seemed dry. But then, I was glad about its serious
approach to the topic, once I began reading Mark Leibovich’s This Town—because I needed to cut his
snark with some solemnity. I craved hard data about election returns, and Collision 2012 offered it up. 
These two
books actually pair quite well, if you’re into this kind of thing.
Not that Collision 2012
is all seriousness. Call me shallow, but the thing I’ll most remember is this:
On the morning of election day, Mitt Romney cleaned out the refrigerator
because it was trash day. I find that completely endearing.
This book offered some great behind-the-scenes coverage of the campaigns, but I just kept thinking:
2012 was no 2008. And without the zippy material, the story just kind of loses its oomph. 

There you have it: the technical analysis from a poli sci major — that election cycle lacked oomph. 

Nevertheless, I’m on the waiting list for Halperin and Heilemann’s Double Down: Game Change 2012. (Due out November 5! [I confess: my stomach just did a little flip of anticipatory joy. I know: sick.])

by

Reader, librarian, & happy little geek

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