'Wednesday' Morning Quarterback

On election day, Bob Kaiser ran a story in the Post about a political scientist at Emory University who confidently called the race back in August. Dr. Alan Abramowitz uses a complex mathematical formula that has predicted the presidential winner in every general election since 1952 (except that alt-history contest between Gore and Bush in 2000).


Barack Obama's "The Audacity of Hope" has been a Washington Post paperback bestseller for 45 weeks, as well. (AP File Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

That got me thinking about a much less complicated mathematical formula: the bestseller lists in Book World. For the previous five weeks, Barack Obama has had three books on the paperback list. His 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father, has been there throughout 2008 (120 weeks total).

Meanwhile, John McCain popped on and off the bestseller list during the campaign. His Hard Call: Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People Who Made Them was on the list for a week about a year ago. And Character is Destiny: Inspiring True Stories Every Young Person Should Know held on for three weeks at the beginning of 2007. But his bestselling memoirs, Faith of my Fathers (1999) and Worth the Fighting For (2002), fell off the list long before Barack Obama was even elected to the Senate.

Was the bestseller list telling us something about the relative levels of enthusiasm for these two candidates?

(P.S. For a great list of books about American political culture, don't miss James Marcus's essay on the National Book Critics Circle's blog.)

By Ron Charles |  November 5, 2008; 7:00 AM ET Ron Charles
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