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Micro-Review: Michael Barone’s New ‘Almanac of American Politics’

I’ve been buying Michael Barone and Richard E. Cohen’s biannual “Almanac of American Politics” since 2001, so I’m happy to own the new 2010 edition, even if a few changes are perplexing to me.

First, Barone has cut out previous election results for everything but presidential races. This is a bit of a pain. A reader used to be able to thumb his copy of the almanac and see how a senator or governor or member of Congress fared in the election just passed and the election before that. No longer. Considering how many Democratic members of the Class of 2006 are targeted in 2010, it’s a real loss. (The book is 1,726 pages, 138 pages shorter than the 2008 edition.)

Second, Barone records the historic and anachronistically long presidential primaries of 2008 in a slapdash manner. Several states held binding caucuses and nonbinding primaries, such as Washington and Nebraska. Barone breaks out the data for the primaries, but not the caucuses. In the case of Idaho, which held a pivotal Feb. 5 caucus (“Obama’s success in this and other caucus states, particularly in the Midwest and West, provided his margin of victory over Clinton,” writes Barone), Barone mentions Obama’s 63-point caucus win in the context of Obama’s smaller 18-point win in the nonbinding May primary. Something I was really hoping would make it into this edition, the presidential primary vote broken down by congressional district, is nowhere to be seen. Trivia wins out over useful data.

Third — and this really doesn’t matter much — there are some truly strange photo choices. Consider:

Devalbarone
Devalbarone

Gov. Patrick isn’t actually demanding $1 billion ransom in order to shut off his planet-destroying laser, but you’d never know it.

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