HOW TO WIN VOTES: The Politics of 1980 by Edward N. Costikyan
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HOW TO WIN VOTES: The Politics of 1980

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This one is for candidates, precinct workers, and students of political science alike. Costikyan is a former Tammany Hall leader and the author of Behind Closed Doors (1966), an analysis of New York City politics that politicians subscribe to. Here he addresses the problems of winning elections in the '80s--when fewer people than ever are voting and the candidate's first priority must therefore be, more than ever, ""How do I get more people to vote for me than for my opponent?"" Costikyan--invariably honest, forthright, realistic--stresses the declining importance of political parties and the changing nature of issues: because every politician is guided by the same polls, issues no longer exist as areas of disagreement, but rather as what people are talking about. He remarks on the party convention as a predictable spectacle, not an exciting event; on impersonal electronic campaign techniques, as against buttons and bumper stickers; on legislators doing the local constituent work that leaders used to do; on the role of big money, too, in replacing the party as a prime force. All these he views as reasons why people are voting less, and he'd be glad to see a return to doorbell-ringing. But there's also up-to-date advice, for these waning party days, on launching a candidacy by starting your own organization and, if you're already Somebody (like John Glenn or Bill Bradley), being yourself. Costikyan, though, isn't dogmatic: after giving a detailed model of how to run a campaign, he sensibly notes, ""In the last analysis, your choice of tactics will not be drawn from any book."" Some of the advice in this one will quickly date, some applies more to big cities than to the country at large, and some--directed to bringing non-voters to the polls--seems to overlook the penchant of non-voters for voting only against. But, with lots of personal input--and names, names, names--good reading as well as invaluable expertise.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1980
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich