THIS STARTED OUT as a completely different book. We had planned on writing a book about voting behavior in the South as a tribute to our friend and mentor, Diane Blair. But intellectual ideas from a variety of projects bled together so that, ultimately, we have written a book about presidential campaigns, with just a single chapter focused on the South (although that chapter is one of our favorites). This topic is perhaps just as fitting for a book dedicated to Diane Blair—she was the rare academic who contributed both to political science and to the real world of campaign politics. Diane seamlessly blended her passion for research and teaching with her passion for politics—and that passion was infectious. As a freshman at the University of Arkansas in 1992, Sunshine got caught up in the excitement of the presidential campaign, and with Diane as a role model, changed her major to political science. To Todd, Diane served as a mentor when he was a young assistant professor at the University of Arkansas, demonstrating to him the direct link between scholarly research and real politics with her work during the 1996 presidential campaign.
The Diane D. Blair Center for Southern Politics and Society was created to honor Diane's legacy, and this book would not have been possible without the center's generous funding of two unique surveys. Funding from the Institute for Quantitative Social Science and a fellowship at the Shorenstein Center for the Press, Politics, and Public Policy gave Sunshine a full year of research leave to devote to writing. And because of the generous support of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University, we were able to hold a book conference around the first draft of the manuscript, providing critical feedback before it was too late to make changes.
We were able to include a great variety of data sources and analyses in this work only because of the willingness of so many scholars to share their data. Daron Shaw provided us with data on state-by-state candidate advertising and visit numbers from the 2000 and 2004 campaigns. Lee Sigelman and Emmet Buell shared their content analysis of New York Times coverage of the 1952–2004 presidential campaigns. Joel Rivlin with the Wisconsin Advertising Project gave us the issue content of the television advertising in the 2004 presidential campaign. We are especially grateful to Doug Rivers, Simon Jackman, and Norman Nie for their willingness to share the massive 2000 Knowledge Networks Election Study, which first gave Sunshine a chance to study