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Mudslingers: The Top 25 Negative Political Campaigns of All Time, Countdown from No. 25 to No. 1 [Hardcover]

Kerwin C. Swint

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Book Description

Dec 30 2005 0275985105 978-0275985103

Americans have a love-hate relationship with negative campaigning, claiming to despise it and ranting about how it turns off the electorate, while at the same time paying an increasing amount of attention to negative ads and tactics during ever-lengthening campaign seasons. Swint gathers the most compelling of these campaigns from the two Golden Ages of negative campaigning—1864 to 1892 and 1988 to the present—in addition to some that fall outside those demarcations, and ranks them in descending order, from No. 25 to No. 1. MudslingerS≪/i> covers presidential, senatorial, gubernatorial, and mayoral races and chronicles the dirtiest, most low-down campaign tactics of all time.

The list includes the presidential campaign of 1800, when the disputed outcome of the race between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams had to be decided by the House of Representatives, and the election of 2004, in which George W. Bush beat John Kerry after one of the nastiest showdowns on record. The first round of negative campaigning in American history was driven by post-Civil War politics, the end of Reconstruction, an increasingly corrupt federal government, and a rabid partisan press. The current Golden Age of mudslinging and dirty politics is driven by huge increases in campaign spending, television advertising, decreased civility in public life, and a muckraking mass media. These fascinating stories from the annals of negative campaigning will entertain as well as educate, reminding us, the next time we are tempted to decry the current climate, that it was (almost) ever thus.


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Product Description

Review

"You wouldn't think there would be positive news in a book about negative campaigning. But Kerwin Swint has found some. Ranking the most vicious American election contests in their proper order, he found that only one race in the top 10 -- Bush vs. Dukakis, in 1988--is less than 20 years old. In short: Things are bad now but not nearly as bad as they used to be…. Negative campaigns are not especially pretty, and they are not always edifying, but we should be glad when they are all we have to worry about. Many democracies around the world would take a little of our vitriol for an end to the thievery and bribery that ruin their elections."

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Wall Street Journal



"During the course of some of the most venomous campaigns - the kind that dredge up everything from salacious trysts with questionable women to shady deals with sleazy men - it becomes clear that politics can be a dirty, disgusting profession. This is precisely why we love it….[e]ven after the readers thinks they can be shocked no more a candidate utters something or creates a rumor that sets them back for a minute. This book is also unique in the fact that it appears as if Swint had a good time writing it - inserting a snarky comment here and there - and to think how many campaigns he probably had to wade through to get the top 25, the man must have a heckuva sense of humor."

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The Hill



"Don't base your vote on just one issue, especially one that hurts people or one that fails to address the state's real needs. Don't believe everything you hear. And look for positive reasons to vote for a candidate, not trumped-up reasons to vote against him."

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The Decatur Daily



"Texas politics is right up there with the best of them when it comes to mudslinging."

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram



"Don't let them fool you--people love negative campaigns. Campaign consultant Swint rates political campaigns over the course of US history. He supports his rankings, in reverse order, from the 2004 presidential election to the dirtiest one thus far: the overtly racist 1970 Alabama Democratic primary between George Wallace and Albert Brewer. Lest one think that this is a modern phenomenon, the 1828 presidential campaign rates a close second. The book include images of candidates and related propaganda."

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Reference & Research Book News



"The political historian who is intrigued by the downright nasty will be interested in MudslingerS≪/i>. In the book Swint chronicles what he deems the 25 nastiest, dirtiest campaigns of all time. He includes examples from modern day and historical examples, illustrating the point that politics has always been dirty, it's in the nature of the game. The entries about each race are very complete, giving readers a full picture of the campaign, the attacks and the candidates. And each chapter is cleverly named based on facts about each race and allows readers to imagine the worst of politics. . . . Swint's book is an interesting look at campaigns through time and at what makes a campaign so negative."

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Campaigns & Elections

Review

"We all claim that we hate negative campaigns, but from the very beginning of the American Republic, they have fascinated us. Go ahead: Indulge yourself! Professor Kerwin Swint has compiled an irresistible list of the 25 dirtiest campaigns of all time. You'll find yourself cluck-clucking as you absorb every word. This is a great read full of dark enlightenment."

(

Larry J. Sabato, Director, Center for Politics, University of Virginia

)

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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun analysis of nasty campaigns, but some of the chapters are a bit thin Jan. 29 2007
By Mark Greenbaum - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When I saw Mudslingers reviewed by John Fund in the Wall Street Journal I was intrigued. I love politics, and for political junkies like myself nothing beats reading about a nasty campaign. I waited a little for the price tag to go down, but since it was never lowered, I broke down and bought it. I was pretty happy with the book. Mudslingers attempts to rank the top 25 most vicious American political campaigns. The book is a very interesting read, but a lot of its analysis is pretty thin and leaves something to be desired.

Many of the campaigns the book looks at are pretty well known. These include presidential contests: Bush v. Kerry in 2004, Bush v. Dukakis, 1988, and Nixon v. McGovern in 1972. The author does a good job bringing up the salacious details from these campaigns like the Swift Boat and Willy Horton commercials. Reading about them is fun. But the best parts of the book are the campaigns that aren't known by most people either because they weren't national races or they occurred over 100 years ago.

Two particular favorites of mine which I vividly remember despite only being a kid at the time are from New York: the brutal 1998 U.S. Senate race between Chuck Schumer and Al D'Amato and the 1989/1993 mayoral campaigns between David Dinkins and Rudolph Giuliani. While these races were a while ago, they were incredibly memorable. I almost forgot about D'Amato's famous putzhead insult, and I loved the discussion of D'Amato's hard nosed (and often shameless politicking) which including going to synagogues with his own yarmulke stitched with the name Alphonse. The two close races between Dinkins and Rudy were also classics, and the book does well exploring how much they divided the Big Apple, especially in the wake of the Crown Heights riots.

Being a Jersey political guy, I also took a twinge of pride that several New Jersey races made the top 25 (how could the Garden State not be included in a discussion of negative campaigns?). The 1996 Torricelli-Zimmer battle was very bitter, though I was a bit disappointed the 1994 Lautenberg-Haytaian face-off was ignored as that race was legendary for its nastiness. There are some other gems like Harold Washington's groundbreaking run for Chicago mayor in 1983, the Edwin Edwards v. David Duke Louisiana governor's race, and the Robb-Ollie North Senate campaign. All of them are covered in pretty decent detail. Perhaps the best one was the 1990 Senate race between Senator Jesse Helms and Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt. If you don't know about the famous "Hands" commercial that cost Gantt the election, this book is a good read for you. That might be the most devastatingly effective commercial in a non-presidential race ever.

Mudslingers is a good read, though perhaps not worth the $45 price tag. I don't think the chapters are big enough to warrant shelling out that much money. Still, if you love politics and campaigning the book is definitely worth checking out, even if the analyses could have been thicker.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Nov. 21 2013
By Sarah V. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My son had to have his book for school. It is an interesting history lesson. Politics have been dirty for a long time. It is not something that is new.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book!! Jan. 6 2013
By Dave D - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I like that the number 1 worst campaign was in my home state. I was too young to remember it, but I do
remember George Wallace. It is just a fun book to read each chapter is about one campaign. I just wish
that it had a DVD to go along with it so that I could watch the campaign adds.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved the book Oct. 27 2008
By Angela C. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I enjoy this book. It is brief but to the point about how negative politics is and has been throughout American history. I think people don't want to admit it but the negative campaigning politics is what we really remember in campaigns.


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