Who are you going to vote for in the next presidential election? I don't know either. I haven't seen a single debate yet. But seeing as there's plenty of time before we have to decide, I'm not too worried. And I just came upon The Undecided Voter's Guide the the Next President: Who the Candidates Are, Shere They Come From, and How You Can Choose (Harper Perennial, 377 pages, $14.95) by Time magazine reporter and ABC News political analyst Mark Halperin....
Most of the candidates, Republican and Democrat (and one Independent), are featured in the book. The format is organized and easy to read. First you get a resume-type listing of the particulars — both personal and professional. Then a thorough accounting of where the candidate stands on major issues. Then a lot of biographical information where you'll learn things you might not have known, like why the Brooklyn-born Rudy Giuliani grew up a Yankees fan and not a Dodgers fan.
What follows is are explanations on the following topics. (I'll use Giuliani as the example):
Areas of Political Controversy
Why Giuliani Can Win a General Election
Why Giuliani Can't Win a General Election
The Best Case For a Giuliani Presidency
The Worse Case For a Giuliani Presidency
What to Expect if Giuliani is President
What His Supporters Say
What His Critics Say
Then we get some more facts, stories, quirks, habits and hobbies. Did you know, for example, that Giuliani's preferred alternative career would be sports announcer?
At the end of each section Halperin gives a listing of sources where you can read more about the candidate.
My only beef with this otherwise thorough and informative book is that all candidates are not covered equally here — and some not at all. The perceived frontrunners — Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama — get the most space, while Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich and Bill Richardson get listed under "More Republicans/Democrats." A couple of candidates — Sam Brownback and Newt Gingrich — aren't in the running anymore.
But that's what happens when you put out a book like this so far in advance of the election. Others are sure to drop before the primary elections and who knows, someone else might enter the ring. And candidates who stick it out may flip-flop on an issue or two. Anything can happen.
If you want a fun, quick way to figure out who you're most aligned with politically, check out this Who's Your Candidate? quiz. You might be surprised to find out where you stand.