John Sides, Michael Tesler, Lynn Vavreck
The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America
Princeton University Press 2018
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books Network December 3, 2018 Lilly Goren
In Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America (Princeton University Press, 2018), co-authors John Sides, Michael Tesler, and Lynn Vavreck explore the underlying question of American identity as a key component within the political landscape that was used during the 2016 primary and general election. Identity Crisis delves into the way that the Republican primary battle was shaped by this question of identity, specifically the ways in which candidate Donald Trump was able to leverage embedded tensions around social identity, especially in regard to issues like immigration. Through the use of substantial data sets that dive into voters’ choices over time, Sides, Tesler, and Vavreck are able to parse policy and issue preferences, how those choices coordinate with partisan inclinations and candidate selection, and what shifted during the course of the election cycle in 2015 and 2016. This incredibly compelling book, accessible to academics and non-academics, examines the tensions around American identity and what it means to be an American today, while exploring how that very idea is contested and seen through partisan lenses. The book examines not only an understanding of individual identity, but also the ways that group identity continues to contribute to further partisan cleavage and polarization. The authors also find interesting backlashes within this political dynamic, as responses to antagonistic attacks on certain groups prompts a variety of responses among voters. Identity Crisis will help readers understand what happened in 2016—from a variety of perspectives and considerations of different dimensions of American politics.