Observers of politics in America often reduce democracy to demography. Whatever portion of the vote not explained by the class, gender, race, and religion of voters is attributed to the candidates' positions. But are these really the only--or even the main--factors? Sociologist Jeffrey Alexander explains what happened, and why, during the 2008 presidential campaign. Drawing on examples taken from a range of media coverage, participant observation, and interviews with leading political journalists, Alexander argues that images, emotion, and performance are the central features of the battle for power. Largely overlooked by pundits, these features are, in fact, the primary foci of politicians and their staff. Obama and McCain painstakingly constructed and projected heroic self-images for their campaigns. Though an untested senator and the underdog in his own party, Obama succeeded in casting himself as the hero--and McCain the anti-hero--and the only candidate fit to lead in challenging times.--From publisher description.