NOW WITH A NEW AFTERWORD EXAMINING THE RESULTS OF THE 2012 ELECTION
Renegade thinkers are crashing the gates of venerable American institutions, replacing the so-called wise men with a radical new data-driven order. We’ve seen it in sports, and now Sasha Issenberg tells the hidden story of the analytical revolution upending the way political campaigns are run.
The book follows the academics and maverick operatives reengineering a high-stakes industry previously run on little more than gut instinct and outdated assumptions. Armed with research from behavioral psychology and randomized experiments that treat voters as unwitting guinea pigs, the smartest campaigns now believe they know who you will vote for even before you do. Issenberg tracks these fascinating techniques and shows how our most important politicians are putting them to use with surprising skill and alacrity.
Provocative, clear-eyed, and skillfully reported, The Victory Lab offers insight into political marketing, human decision making, and the increasing power of analytics.
Table of Contents
Prologue: How to Win an Election Without Anyone Knowing
1. Blinded by Political Science
2. A Game of Margins
3. The New Haven Experiments
4. The Two Percent Solution
5. "You Mean You Don't Do This in Politics?"
6. Geeks Versus the Gurus
7. When Shame Pays a House Call
8. Showdown at the Oasis
9. Models and the Matrix
10. The Soul of a New Machine
Epilogue: Pushing the Envelope
About Sasha Issenberg
SASHA ISSENBERG is a columnist for Slate and the Washington correspondent for Monocle. He covered the 2008 election as a national political correspondent for The Boston Globe, and his work has also appeared in New York, The Atlantic, and The New York Times Magazine. His first book, The Sushi Economy, was published in 2007.
“Indispensable. . . . Issenberg has a firm grounding in the political universe. . . . [He] paints his insurgents in heroic terms, putting the spotlight on campaign warriors few of us have ever heard of. . . . [The Victory Lab is] a magical mystery tour of contemporary campaigns. By the end, a lot of the mystery will become clear, and you’ll know a whole lot more about what’s behind those calls and letters jamming your phone lines and mailboxes.” —Jeff Greenfield, The Washington Post
“[The Victory Lab] traces an under-reported element of the evolution of campaign tactics over nearly a half-century in an unusually accessible and engaging manner. . . . A timely, rare, and valuable attempt to unveil the innovations revolutionizing campaign politics.” —The New Republic
“Enlightening.” —The New Yorker
“A magnificently reported and wonderfully written book, full of eye-opening revelations and a colorful cast of characters whose groundbreaking strategies and tactics have injected 21st-century science into politics and changed it forever in the process. The Victory Lab is essential for anyone who wants to understand what really goes on along the campaign trail—and a delight for those who simply enjoy a terrific read.” —John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, authors of Game Change
“Sasha Issenberg cracks open the secretive realm of modern campaigns, revealing a revolution that is influencing not only who wins elections but also the fate of the nation. This is a terrific and important book.” —David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z
“Sasha Issenberg is our most acute observer of the modern political campaign. With vivid portraiture and crystal-clear prose, he takes us beyond the charge-and-counter-charge, the rallies and stump speeches, to show us the hidden persuaders. This is the politics you'll never see on the nightly news.” —Richard Ben Cramer, author of What it Takes