2006 Almanac of American Politics

In This Review

2006 Almanac of American Politics

By Michael Barone with Richard E. Cohen
National Journal Group, 2005
1,900 pp. $69.95
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The most important reference text on American politics is back in a new edition, complete with Barone's analysis of the 2004 election. With maps and capsule histories of every state and all 435 House districts, along with biographies, voting-record summaries, and political sketches of every senator and representative, this is the most comprehensive and accurate guide to the labyrinth of U.S. politics ever assembled. The capsule state histories alone make this book indispensable for any student of American life and politics; the 50 different political cultures of the 50 states in the Union play enormous but often unappreciated roles in national debates over foreign as well as domestic policy. Barone's analysis of the 2004 election sees a country tilting Republican. Unlike Ruy Teixeira and John Judis (authors of The Emerging Democratic Majority), Barone believes demographic trends continue to favor the GOP. The decline, moreover, of "old media" and the rise of new, antiestablishment media (the "right blogosphere") helped Bush, Barone maintains, by publicizing charges by Vietnam "swift boat" veterans against John Kerry and by rapidly discrediting a CBS report critical of Bush's service in the National Guard. (The "left blogosphere," meanwhile, helped Bush by pushing the Democrats leftward.) That advantage may not last. American media, says Barone, continue to evolve at a rapid pace, changing the rules of the political game in ways that even seasoned players cannot predict.