The Politics of Disaster:
Tracking the Impact of Hurricane Andrew

David K. Twigg

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“Examine[s] the political implications of one of the worst hurricanes to strike Florida, Andrew in 1992. . . . Twigg has assembled an impressive array of facts.”—Florida Historical Quarterly
 
“[A] careful, nuanced approach in examining the effects of a hurricane on a region’s electoral politics at all levels of government, including localities sometimes neglected by American political science but central to disaster politics.”—Political Science Quarterly  
 
"A rigorous study of disaster's impact on elected local and state political officials, on their electoral fortunes or misfortunes, and on the local political fabric of impacted jurisdictions."--Richard T. Sylves, George Washington University
"A significant contribution to the field of disaster studies."--Naim Kapucu, University of Central Florida
From earthquakes to tornados, elected officials' responses to natural disasters can leave an indelible mark on their political careers. In the midst of the 1992 primary season, Hurricane Andrew overwhelmed South Florida, requiring local, state, and federal emergency responses. The work of many politicians in the storm's immediate aftermath led to a curious "incumbency advantage" in the general election a few weeks later, raising the question of just how much the disaster provided opportunities to effectively "campaign without campaigning."
 
David Twigg uses newspaper stories, scholarly articles, and first person interviews to explore the impact of Hurricane Andrew on local and state political incumbents, revealing how elected officials adjusted their strategies and activities in the wake of the disaster. Not only did Andrew give them a legitimate and necessary opportunity to enhance their constituency service and associate themselves with the flow of external assistance, but it also allowed them to achieve significant personal visibility and media coverage while appearing to be non-political or above "normal" politics.
 
This engrossing case study clearly demonstrates why natural disasters often privilege incumbents. Twigg not only sifts through the post-Andrew election results in Florida, but he also points out the possible effects of other past (and future) disaster events on political campaigns in this fascinating and prescient book.

David K. Twigg is director at the Jack D. Gordon Institute of Public Policy and Citizenship Studies at Florida International University.

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“Twig has assembled an impressive array of facts by pouring through scholarly documents, books, and back issues of magazines.” Florida Historical Quarterly

[A] careful, nuanced approach in examining the effects of a hurricane on a region’s electoral politics at all levels of government, including localities sometimes neglected by American political science but central to disaster politics. Political Science Quarterly

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