Advice from an old pro who learned from losing; How to win votes: The Politics of 1980, by Edward N. Costikyan. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. $12.95.
Take off your jackets and roll up your sleeves. You will shortly be up to your elbows in practical politics.m If Edward Costikyan were giving a political science lecture instead of writing a book, he might start it that way. For in this compact volume by the author of "Behind Closed Doors: Politics in the Public Interest" the veteran New York City politician gives the reader the full benefit of his experience and insight. Mr. Costikyan, in addition to being a trial lawyer, served for years as a district leader of the Democratic Party, and was head of the party's city organization under Mayor Robert Wagner. In 1977 he sought the Democratic nomination for mayor; he lost, but readers of this book get the benefit of some of the wisdom he gained thereby.
In just 200 pages Mr. Costikyan speaks volumes about the politics of yesterday, today, and tomorrow in the United States. He'll help you understand what happened to old-style party politics -- and if you think you've heard enough o that, don't stop reading: This is a fresh viewpoint. He'll tell you how to use the tools of the new politics -- polls, the media -- as well as when it can be to a candidate's advantage to buck the trend.
Most of all, he wants to tell the office seeker, for city council or president of the US, how to get those notorious nonvoting Americans to the polls -- to vote for the "right" candidate. He shows how, in most elections, converting only a small percentage of those stay-at-homes can mean victory.
Ever the practical politician, Mr. Costikyan illustrates his points about nonvoters with his own poll, taken in Hartford, Conn., by a major public opinion firm. Voters and nonvoters were questioned right after the Hartford municipal election of Nov. 6, 1979, and their answers form the basis for Mr. Costikyan's conclusions.
Getting nonvoters to the polls has the look of a plausible strategy for an independent candidate like John Anderson.
However, should Mr. Anderson decide to go after the nonvoters at this stage, the Costkyan rationale would indicate he might well be starting too late. He says it takes persuasive arguments on fresh issues, and a good deal of time, to make believers out of nonvoters.
Among the many books on politics being published as the 1980 political tide rises this must be one of the most readable and useful -- to candidate and constituent alike.