Renegade thinkers crash the gates of a venerable American institution, shoving aside its so-called wise men and replacing their gut instinct with a radical new data-driven order. We’ve seen it in sports, and now in The Victory Lab, journalist Sasha Issenberg presents the untold story of the analytical revolution upending the way political campaigns are run in the 21st century.
The Victory Lab follows the maverick operatives and academics now calling the shots in some of the most cutting-edge war rooms, in the process transforming the highest-stakes industry in the country. Armed with research from behavioral psychology, data-mining, and randomized experiments that treat voters as unwitting guinea pigs, the smartest campaigns now believe they know who you will vote for even before you do. Issenberg uncovers the secret history of modern American politics, pulling back the curtain on these revolutionary tactics and strategies, which helped to decide the 2004 and 2008 races and have become essential to the campaigns of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Sasha Issenberg is our most acute observer of the modern political campaign. With vivid portraiture and crystal-clear prose, he takes
us beyond the charge-and-counter-charge, the rallies and stump speeches, to show us the hidden persuaders.
—Richard Ben Cramer, author of What It Takes
Sasha Issenberg cracks open the secretive realm of modern campaigns, revealing a revolution that is influencing not only who wins elections but also the fate of the nation. This is a terrific and important book.
—David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z
A magnificently reported and wonderfully written book, full of eye-opening revelations and a colorful cast of characters whose groundbreaking strategies and tactics have injected 21st-century science into politics and changed it forever in the process. The Victory Lab is essential for anyone who wants to understand what really goes on along the campaign trail and a delight for those who simply enjoy a terrific read.
—John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, authors of Game Change
Reviews and Coverage of the Victory Lab
Issenberg’s thorough analysis of the transformation of the smoke-filled campaign backroom to a data-rich network would delight a budding political statistician.
—Publisher’s Weekly, July 16, 2012
—James Surowiecki, The New Yorker, September 24, 2012
There are few other books that address the complexities of the political ground game, and those that do are too old to incorporate the rapid changes in campaigning over the last decade. Not only does The Victory Lab address the personalities and practices currently employed by modern campaigns, it also traces an under-reported element of the evolution of campaign tactics over nearly a half-century in an unusually accessible and engaging manner...The Victory Lab represents a timely, rare, and valuable attempt to unveil the innovations revolutionizing campaign politics.
—Nate Cohn, The New Republic, September 19, 2012
Sasha Issenberg's Victory Lab is a provocative, informative read. Stuffed with useful insights for journos.
—Robert Costa, National Review, September 16, 2012
There's a new book out that's being talked about a lot in political circles, The Victory Lab: The Science of Winning Campaigns by Sasha Issenberg. I'm in the process of reading it myself, and it's very enjoyable and enlightening so far...the main reason I recommend reading The Victory Lab is because I believe voters should be forewarned about how campaigns are going to try and manipulate them. While some of these cutting-edge campaign techniques are benign, I find the grand experiments in behavioral manipulation insidious and just plain creepy.
—Mark Hemingway The Weekly Standard, September 21, 2012
Second, journalists should seek to provide smarter coverage of campaign dynamics. We've seen innovations in political coverage from non-traditional outlets like...Sasha Issenberg’s fascinating Victory Lab series for Slate. Rather than churning out an endless series of gaffe reports and commentary, why not incorporate the best aspects of these approaches and develop a new model for horse race journalism?
—Brendan Nyhan, Columbia Journalism Review
Issenberg illuminates how modern campaigns exploit marginal advantages.
—Kirkus Reviews, July 30, 2012