How Obama Beat Romney: Books Go Behind the Scenes of the 2012 Presidential Race
By the end of a relentless presidential election cycle--a.k.a., the 24-month-long odyssey of ads, polls, debates and speeches analyzed to death by hundreds of talking heads--most of us are ready for the darn thing to be over. Still, last year's showdown between President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney--who made a late surge in the polls that injected a big dose of drama into the race in the final pre-election weeks--was as exciting as it gets. Now, almost a full year after the election, several books full of firsthand accounts from campaign insiders are pulling back the curtain on Obama's and Romney's respective presidential runs to reveal what really happened behind the scenes. From shifting loyalties to party infighting, it's juicy stuff. We've gathered up the must-reads that tell the most revealing stories behind the presidential race.
The definitive postmortem for news junkies
Veteran Washington Post political correspondent Dan Balz has done this before with his bestselling recap of the 2008 election, "The Battle for America 2008." Staying true to form, "Collision 2012" describes how Obama and his team capitalized on emerging technologies, a divided GOP and a few Romney gaffes to triumph last November. Balz incorporates scores of interviews with campaign insiders from both sides of the aisle, politicians (including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who passed on a chance to run amid GOP pressure) and Romney himself, who spoke to Balz in January 2013.
Inner workings of Obama's communications team
In a departure from Balz's book, MSNBC.com executive editor Richard Wolffe's "The Message" takes readers behind the scenes at the Obama campaign's headquarters, teasing out the internal tensions, rifts and rivalries that plagued his staffers in the months running up to the election. Concentrating on Obama's communications team, Wolffe recounts their efforts to reenergize supporters who'd been let down by Obama's failure to make good on the buzzwords of his first campaign, "hope" and "change"--all while harboring their own doubts.
How Obama's win helped America "dodge a bullet"
Former Newsweek senior editor Jonathan Alter--who published "The Promise," a book on Obama's first year in office, in 2010 --delivers another comprehensive look back in "The Center Holds." Alter trains his eye on the Obama Administration, drawing on more than 200 interviews to outline the challenges the President and his team faced, including a Congress in turmoil--and arguing that, ultimately, moderates prevailed on election night: "The radical right that would have been vindicated and emboldened by a sweeping Republican victory sees the government as 'them.' I make no apologies for suggesting that the United States dodged a bullet in 2012 by rejecting this extremist view of our 225-year experiment in democracy," he writes. "We are a centrist nation."
A conservative perspective on the media's election impact
Written by L. Brent Bozell, the president of the conservative-leaning content analysis organization The Media Research Center, and his MRC colleague, media analyst Tim Graham, "Collusion" centers around the role of the media in the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. As their book's title suggests, Bozell and Graham argue that liberal bias was rife in the coverage of the election, citing, for example, stories about Texas Governor Rick Perry's curiously named ranch, Herman Cain's sexual harassment flap and a slew of unflattering tales about Romney.
The redux everybody's been waiting for
Possibly the most hotly anticipated postmortem, "Double Down," veteran political correspondents Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's follow-up to "Game Change," is due out in November. As Halperin and Heilemann's fans know, "Game Change" became an Emmy-winning HBO film starring Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin and Ed Harris as John McCain--and indeed, HBO has already optioned the rights to their sequel. Who do you think should play Romney in the film version? Our votes are with Clooney.