Electing the President, 2004: The Insiders' View

Electing the President, 2004: The Insiders' View

Electing the President, 2004: The Insiders' View

Electing the President, 2004: The Insiders' View


The 2004 presidential election was closely watched from all corners of the world and dominated the media for nearly a year. From the opening announcements of campaigns through the primaries and debates to the first Tuesday in November, the presidential election was ubiquitous, filling our email inboxes and directing our dinner conversation, turning us all into amateur political analysts. "Electing the President, 2004" offers the views of the professional political operatives who ran the campaigns.

In this volume, the consultants who brought the country the Bush-Cheney and Kerry-Edwards contest of 2004 explain the strategies behind the ads and debates, discuss what they did and failed to do to elect their candidates, and reveal their differing perspectives on the issues that mattered. "Electing the President, 2004" focuses on events from September 11 to the release of the Osama Bin Laden tape that affected the outcome of the elections. The debates, the advertising, the work of 527 groups, the campaign organizations--all these components contributed to an eventful election season, with the two campaigns continually vying for the attention of the American public. Through this analysis of strategy--their own and their opponents'--these insiders offer a ringside seat to a hotly contested democratic process.

Contributors: Mary Beth Cahill, Alex Castellanos, Elizabeth L. Cheney, Nicolle Devenish, Mike Donilon, Matthew Dowd, Tucker Eskew, David Jones, Bill Knapp, Chris LaCivita, Joe Lockhart, Brian McCabe, Mark McKinnon, Mark Mellman, Stephen Moore, Robert M. Shrum, Erik Smith, and Bill Zimmerman.


Beginning in 1992, the Annenberg School for Communication has held election debriefings after each general election presidential campaign. First in tape form and starting in 2000 in transcript form as well, we have shared this event with the scholarly community.

We open with a timeline of election year events and with charts drawn from the data of the National Annenberg Election Survey. These materials were prepared for and distributed at the debriefing.

In some sense the 2004 election was a rematch between key consultants on each side, with Bob Shrum and Bill Knapp among those returning for the Democrats and Matthew Dowd, Mark McKinnon, and Alex Castellanos returning for the Republicans.

As the program outline indicates, the first day of the debriefing, held at the school in Philadelphia, focused on the Bush-Cheney and KerryEdwards campaigns. a brief biography of each presenter appears in the text before that person’s first presentation.

After a weekend break, the second day, which focused on the major 527s, was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. the consultants who attended the first event did not attend the Washington one, nor did the 527 representatives attend the event in Philadelphia. We had hoped to create a debriefing that happened across two consecutive days in one location but schedules did not permit us to do so.

As in the past, we asked the consultants on each side to prepare halfhour presentations. We then opened the floor to questions. in Philadelphia, where the event was closed to the press, the questions were asked primarily by the consultants in the audience. in Washington, the questions came largely from reporters. That half-day was carried by C-SPAN.

The goal of the debriefing was to capture the insights of these individuals for examination by scholars and students in the coming months and years. After we transcribed the presentations and discussion, I removed some of the peculiarities of oral speech and added punctuation and bracketed information for context. We then sent the edited version to the participants for correction of spelling and transcription errors. (For example, in the process “youth” had become “use” in one sentence.) We are grateful to the consultants who, election cycle after election . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.