Senators on the Campaign Trail: The Politics of Representation

Richard F. Fenno, Jr., Author
Richard F. Fenno, Jr., Author University of Oklahoma Press $34.95 (375p) ISBN 978-0-8061-2827-6
Paperback - 376 pages - 978-0-8061-3062-0
Hardcover - 384 pages - 978-0-585-10055-5
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While most political scientists focus on polls, trends and statistics, Fenno's absorbing book compares the behavior of 10 Senatorial candidates on the campaign trail between 1976 and 1994, resulting in numerous unconventional insights into the how voters react to politicians. Fenno compares former Iowa Senator Dick Clark's 1972 election, based largely on the popularity of his energetic walk across Iowa to meet voters, to his complacent an unsuccessful second campaign. Former astronaut John Glenn didn't have to go to such lengths for name recognition, but it wasn't until he addressed a union of boilerplate workers in 1980 that he stumbled across the fact that the audience was more deeply responsive to his own personal past as a plumber's son than to his status as national hero. Fenno also makes an instructive comparison between Glenn's failure in one election to the success of the young Dan Quayle in another: ""Quayle,"" he notes, ""had no reputation... but he also had nothing to lose."" There are many subtle distinctions between candidates' institutional ambitions in the Senate and their electoral ambitions in their home states, and there is the concept of personal representation versus policy representation, and Fenno clearly defines all these. Although he can be repetitively defensive about the academic validity of his approach, Fenno's focus on individual details restores a humanity to the Senate in an era of public cynicism about public institutions. (June)
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