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The Almanac of American Politics 2012 Paperback – 7 Oct 2011

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"Real political junkies get two Almanacs: one for the home and one for the office."-Chuck Todd, NBC "It's simply the oxygen of the political world. We have the most dog-eared copy in town."-Judy Woodruff, PBS News Hour "Michael Barone is to politics what statistician-writer Bill James is to baseball, a mix of historian, social observer, and numbers cruncher who illuminates his subject with perspective and a touch of irreverence."-Chicago Tribune "Indispensable... this compendium of statistics and information has gone as far as humanly possible."-Washington Post "The Bible of American politics." -George Will "The single best reference there is for Congress and Washington specifically and the country generally." -Jim Lehrer"

About the Author

Michael Barone is a senior writer at U.S. News and World Report and a Fox News Channel contributor. His most recent book is Our First Revolution: The Remarkable British Upheaval That Inspired America's Founding Fathers. Chuck McCutcheon has worked as a reporter for Congressional Quarterly and the Newhouse News Service. He has been coeditor of Congressional Quarterly's Politics in America and is the author of Nuclear Reactions.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x96222f84) out of 5 stars 15 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Jay R. Wells III - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The 2012 volume is the latest in my collection of all editions of the Almanac of American Politics since the first edition in 1972. All political junkies will find the book fascinating inasmuch as it is a combination of travelogue, history, geography, biography and textbook on those serving at the highest levels of our state and national governments. It is a reference book that can be read cover to cover as a non-fiction classic.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9699e2d0) out of 5 stars ALMANAC OF AMERICAN POLITICS 5 Oct. 2011
By Alan Ginsberg - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The 2012 editon of The Alamanac of American Politics continues the publication's record of being the most complete and comprehensive guide to the nation's politics.
It is more "user friendly" than any other edition (the first one of which I purchsed in 1985.) Regrettably it does not include a table of primary dates for 2012. But this probably is due to the rapidly changing decisions in today's chaotic politics.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x969922a8) out of 5 stars Just The Facts 29 April 2012
By Bill Slocum - Published on
Format: Paperback
Anyone who has watched FOX News during an election has seen legendary political demographer Michael Barone speak extemporaneously on any U. S. congressional district at a moment's notice. The Almanac Of American Politics, the latest edition of which was published in 2012, gives us the fruit of his knowledge.

Partisans looking for the Almanac to spark arguments or carry water for their side have a lot of pages to flip through in vain. Barone has emerged as more conservative in recent years, memorably denouncing the Obama Administration's "gangster government" policies in 2009, but there's none of that red-meat stuff here. The Almanac is co-written this year for the first time by Chuck McCutcheon, a National Journal correspondent who apparently provides some kind of liberal ballast. Numerous other writers are credited in the back pages.

Individual bios of nearly 600 governors, senators, and House of Representatives members present straightforward analyses centering around that person's history on major votes and elections. It gets a bit dry, even more than reading a reference book usually does. Individual personalities are largely sidestepped in favor of their policies. I remember past Almanac volumes that kept me reading longer; perhaps Barone and his staff are playing it too safe?

Where the book sings for me is in the descriptions of the states and congressional districts. Barone and his team delight in the kind of factoids I enjoy, like how Alaska has 16% of the nation's land area and just a fourth of one percent of its population. "Within the lifespan of an octogenarian, Florida has been transformed, from a swampy, undersettled, mostly rural state of 1.5 million people, the smallest population in the South, to a mostly high-tech, mostly metropolitan giant of 18.8 million people," is how one state's entry begins.

If you love facts, you will find a lot to love in this book:

* The two longest-serving Democratic House members both hail from the same state (Michigan), while the two senior Republican House members both have the same last name (which, ironically enough, is Young).

* As a young boy, Missouri Republican House member Billy Long taught his pet to roll over when he said to him: "Would you rather be a Democrat or a dead dog?"

* There is only one self-declared atheist House member (Democrat Pete Stark of California) but several list no religious affiliation, including the governor of Hawaii and both senators from Colorado.

* New Mexico Democrat House member Martin Heinrich finished ahead of South Dakota Republican Senator John Thume in a recent "Hottest Man In Politics" poll.

* Ohio has not voted for a losing presidential candidate since 1960, and along with Florida, typically accounts for the thinnest winning margins of any "Big State."

If I have a serious bone to pick with this book, it's with its establishmentarian tone. In an opening essay, Barone notes the broad sweeps in House races for Democrats in 2008 and Republicans in 2010, offering various ideas centered around ideology and perceptions of competence. One thing he doesn't consider is that the system has become broken by entrenched political interests that spur public cynicism and impatience anything positive can be done. The system worked better when you could count on some amount of comity, but imbalances like earmarks and no term limits were always there. Now with the money running out, it's more and more like rats on a sinking ship.

That's me playing pundit, though, something Barone and company don't do here. They wanted to produce a reference book and not a treatise. This Almanac succeeds, much more to its benefit than otherwise.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9624ee88) out of 5 stars The Finest Resource on American Politics Available 22 Sept. 2011
By Paul E. Schellinger - Published on
Format: Paperback
The 2012 Almanac of American Politics is a must-have reference work for anyone wanting information about the national political scene. Detailed profiles of every member of Congress and every state governor (as well as the President and Vice President), incorporating data drawn from multiple sources relating to voting records, interest group ratings, campaign expenditures, and the like, tell us who our leaders really are and how they got elected. As a statistical resource on national politicians, the Almanac is a rich trove of reliable and engaging information.

But statistics don't tell the whole story of this book. The Almanac itself tells the story of who we are as a country, state by state, district by district. Michael Barone's analysis of individual congressional districts takes the history, economics, and demographics of each district into account as these factors bear on political trends and voting behavior. As such, the Almanac, an up-to-date look into the current political scene, shows us where we came from and where we are going as an electorate.

And it's great fun as a source for trivia games! Example:

Q. What U.S. Senator celebrated his 86th birthday by attending a Lady Gaga concert?

A. Frank Lautenberg, D., New Jersey
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96251054) out of 5 stars Indispensable Guide for Political and Public Policy watchers 12 May 2013
By James B. Casey - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been purchasing this helpful guide since 1976 and have found it increasingly valuable and informative as the years pass. Available on even years (election years), the latest available now is 2012. It will soon be succeeded this Fall by the 2014 version. I have the 2010 and 2012 volumes right near my TV set as the news shows feature this or that Senator, Governor and Representative. The volumes are packed not only with biographical and voting record information about the individual office holders, but census and political assessments of their districts and States. I literally use this resource every day. If you are interested in public policy and the political wars of our day, this is a superb resource and worth every penny of the $50 to $60 price tag.
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