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The Audacity to Win: How Obama Won and How We Can Beat the Party of Limbaugh, Beck, and Palin

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  3,608 ratings  ·  238 reviews
The inside story of a brilliant campaign, with lessons on how the Democrats can secure victory in the future--from the author of A Citizen's Guide to Beating Donald Trump.

Since David Plouffe helped design the plan that brought candidate Obama to the White House, the lessons of that plan have become only more relevant. Today, conservative forces led by figures like Sarah Pa
Paperback, 415 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by Penguin Group (first published October 15th 2009)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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Start your review of The Audacity to Win: How Obama Won and How We Can Beat the Party of Limbaugh, Beck, and Palin
Nov 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In The Audacity to Win, David Plouffe says of the boss he got to know so well during two years of campaigning together, "He is a chess player in a town full of checkers players."

An idealist, a courageous man with a brilliant and innovative mind, Barack Obama tends to surround himself with people of like attitudes and aptitudes. That Plouffe himself is such a man is evident in this book, which is analytical but clear, high-minded but very human. Himself a chess player, Plouffe provides a fascinat
Jul 28, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
Erm.... there are people who are really outstanding at running a groundbreaking, thrilling, smart, and decent campaign that ends up bringing to power a history-making, thoughtful, effective, and supercute candidate (and for these people I for one am so so thankful). However, the skill set needed to run a campaign, a task which sounds almost legendarily complicated and boring, is not the skill set needed to talk about it in an interesting manner. Plouffe's writing is exceptionally dull (as many l ...more
Dec 23, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hist-misc
A good book to read if you are starting a company and trying to create a culture. Started with nothing and built an organization that broke all records in participation and fund raising. But they couldn't have done it without the candidate. For a guy who lived and breathed metrics there is only one chart or matrix in the whole book!! However, there are nice color pics of the "campaign family." A little long and could have used some editing. It was ok until it got past the win over Hilary and the ...more
Sep 13, 2012 rated it liked it
If Josh Lyman was a real person who wrote a book without the help of Aaron Sorkin, this is what he would write. A little dull, but strangely fascinating, I have a whole new perspective on the political process now: it is the ultimate chess game. With enough money, man power, and information, you can swing things in your direction. Sure it doesn't hurt to have a once in a generation candidate who sweeps the whole world off its feet, but Plouffe's strategy is really about the smallest of moves. He ...more
Rick Wilson
What actually goes on inside a presidential campaign? Why is Iowa so important? Where does money actually go on a presidential campaign? How many pitbulls has Sarah Palin accosted with lipstick? Should I ask my doctor if superdelegates are right for me? Why do all these godforsaken email goblins keep asking me for money? I donated $3 one time! Now it’s like a Sarah McLaughlin with mafia ties is in my inbox every 3-6 hours. “Give us the money Rick, we know you have it. Give us 3 more dollars or w ...more
I generally stay away from books about current politics because they get me agitated. This one, however, is focused pretty heavily on the hows and whys of the campaign and not so much on the ideology. I found the degree of organization required to be staggering, and the nuts and bolts of use of the internet, advertising, debate prep, location scouting, etc. to be really interesting. I'll definitely look at and judge future campaigns with a higher degree of insight. It was straight forward, well ...more
Apr 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't care what side of the aisle you're sitting on, this is a must-read. Admittedly, if you're anti-Obama, parts might be a little nauseating (Plouffe is, as one might suspect given his position, "in the tank" for Obama), but Plouffe opens up the inner workings of a presidential campaign in a way that few others have done, and the result is fascinating. Even if you're not a politico, "The Audacity to Win" provides fantastic insight into organizational systems and leadership strategies, and ma ...more
Rick Nonsense
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thorough, well paced and with good detail. I was concerned at the outset that Plouffe might be stanning Obama too hard and, yes, he is as expected fairly in the tank for Obama and the democratic party. However his obvious rigour and qualities as a campaign manager come through. He (and therefore the campaign) repeatedly show the rare trait of being able to filter out noise and focus on that which is actually important while cultivating discipline and focus internally in the organisation. The con ...more
Gavin Weinberg
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book opens up my eyes to every nuance of a presidential campaign and all that comes with it. David Plouffe told the story in a way that was reminiscent of a thriller, the book was realistic but also hopeful towards the future. The book was for sure a page-turner that I did not want to put down!
Mar 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Interesting insider account of the 2008 Obama campaign from its beginning through the election. If you enjoyed following the 2008 presidential election, then you'll enjoy this book; if not, you probably won't (unless your lack of enjoyment was primarily due to the crappy news media).

Plouffe tells a great story from a perspective he's uniquely qualified to present. As such, it is full of fairly intimate details and anecdotes about Obama and other figures within the campaign, which help to make th
Mar 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The definitive diary on the Obama campaign

President Barack Obama’s historic political campaign deserves to be studied for its innovative organization, volunteer effort, fundraising and use of technology. But it is also a compelling story about an unlikely candidate and the highly motivated expert team that pulled off one of the greatest game-changing upsets in U.S. political history. Obama campaign manager David Plouffe (rhymes with “bluff”) has written a diary-like firsthand account that deliv
Johnny Williams
A terrific outline of the campaign-- but a little on the long and self serving side for Plouffe -- and although it gave some brief behind the scenes looks --it was shy on this element and I think a disappointment to most readers because of it-- where is the insight into the Obama family -- the discussions between staff on hard decisions -- the technical discussion on the e-mail phenomenally successful application and history making political tool --etc-- this fell short--of fulfilling what most ...more
Lewis Weinstein
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A brilliant analysis of Obama's 2008 victory by the brilliant politician who managed it. It's time to re-read this to get a preview of the 2012 campaign. ...more
Myra Khan
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now I understand the complex and essentially undemocratic process that is U.S. presidential elections.
Geoffrey Kelley
Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I continued on the Obama theme and read David Plouffe’s account of the two campaigns that carried Obama to the White House. Partnered with his business associate, David Axelrod, Plouffe takes us from the first discussions about a possible entry into the Democratic primaries, and challenging the powerful front runner, Hillary Clinton. Plouffe explains how the focus was on new ways of doing politics, using social media to reach out and grow the electorate, especially minority and young voters. The ...more
Jason Young
I am coming up this summer on 18 years experience in my chosen career profession - starting humbly by inventorying cabinets of RS-232 cables and BNC connectors and all kinds of leftover watchamacallits from my employer's years of government contracting - to today where I do, um, er, I do, well, "computing things"

You know, I have the hardest time describing what I do. I say that I do "systems administration" and "software development" and "project management" or sometimes "cat herding" - but all
Lezlie Gits
If you're at all curious about what it's like to run a presidential campaign, The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory is your book. David Plouffe walks the reader through the entire campaign, from the uncertain beginnings through election night. You'll hear enormous amounts of detail on political polls, funding, Obama's team's unprecedented use of "new media" in organizing and informing his supporters, the primary battles with Hillary Clinton and the ...more
Christina Lear
Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read about an inspiring campaign during this ugly one, and this fit the bill. The presidential election strategy is super nerdy and interesting but there are tons of leadership lessons that can be extrapolated like: be true to your mission/philosophy/values when making decisions and deciding on matters of tone; don’t play by the traditional rules when you’re trying to do something that’s never been done; use data to inform your strategy and use your strategy to make decisions; and st ...more
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of Barak Obama's election battle with Hilary Clinton, and then John McCain.
It is interesting to see just how manufactured Obama was - as almost any candidate would have to be in order to compete. Every aspect of the stage play is nuanced, tested, and pitched for. For example - the playbook says the lead candidate should always remain positive, but the party can put out negative attacks (until Trump of course). How a cringeworthy and cheesy speech from Michelle tipped the balance. And
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book and am not a democrat nor did I vote in 2008. Aside from the insight into the campaign, there is this amazing insight into what Obama set out to do. Over the course of reading it I found myself agreeing and concuring wholeheartedly with obama and his campaign. But then I recalled what happened and also kept wondering how the most inspired president in recent memory failed to deliver on so much that he wanted. What wall did he run up against that caused it to fail?

Athar Naser
Thoroughly enjoyed this book which delves into the strategy that the Obama campaign employed in order to succeed against the odds.

Lots of really interesting details on comms strat and political strat. There is (naturally) lots of reference to the US electoral system and as I'm not that familiar with it some of the tactics outlined lost me a little, so if you have some familiarity with that system you will benefit greatly.

Otherwise it also served as a real eye opener on what the US democratic pr
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Axelrod's book earlier this year and while I enjoyed it, I believe that I am more of a Plouffe kind of nerd. I think that Plouffe and OFA changed the way campaigns are made - Respect. Empower. Include. With hindsight (and tidbits picked up from other books), I think that moving away from the protracted presence in key states is where Robby Mook fucked up.
Who knows what the future holds, but it's hard to imagine a better model.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Horrible last chapter and disappointing at best. I got sweep up in the actual campaign run and thought the Obama team were pioneers in some respects, but putting down all the people who did vote for the team petty. It just reminded me of Hilary and her deplorable statement. Plouffe should have been more gracious and taken the win on the candidate and the strategy and left it for that.
Will Atkins
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. I’m not sure how Plouffe could remember the details of 2 years worth of conversations, but this book is a great summary of the entire first presidential campaign by President Obama. By re-telling this story, he also provides plenty of lessons learned and nuggets for future campaign operatives.
Gordon Kwok
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the book which is describes the 2008 Obama campaign from the campaign manager himself (not some low level aide) who knows about the inner workings of the campaign. Great insight into what Candidate Obama was like and his management style. Highly recommended book to those interested in President Obama or politics.
Charlie Hannah
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great reading for any political junkie of the centrist and Democratic persuasion.

The book was well written and somewhat visual. The author took me inside the stress, pains and join if campaigning for and with Barack Obama.
Johnathan McDonald
This book was a tremendous inside account of what can only be described as the meteoric rise of Barack Obama from Senator to President.

David Plouffe is a campaign and numbers expert, and his expertise is on full display throughout.
Liang Gang Yu
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Almost 9 years since Obama first election as US president in 2008. This book is still relevant as an example of a successful presidential run - what is right and what could be problems.
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked getting a better understanding how Obamas campaign was done. Not the best writing though
Václav Zoube
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: marketing, politics
Manual, which should be read not only as a reminder, how Barrack Obama became a president, but also how Donald Trump succeeded him. His staff understood the lesson.
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David Plouffe served as the campaign manager for Barack Obama’s primary and general election victories in 2008. He was the architect of the strategy for both elections. Prior to running the Obama campaign, Plouffe served as a leading Democratic Party media consultant from 2001 to 2007, playing a key role in the election of US senators, governors, mayors, and House members across the country. He li ...more

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