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Polling and the Public
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Polling and the Public
What Every Citizen Should Know

Ninth Edition

Other Titles in:
Media & Public Opinion

September 2016 | 360 pages | CQ Press
Polling and the Public helps readers become savvy consumers of public opinion polls, offering solid grounding on how the media cover them, their use in campaigns and elections, and their interpretation. This trusted, brief guide by Herb Asher also provides a non-technical explanation of the methodology of polling so that students become informed participants in political discourse. Fully updated with new data and scholarship, the Ninth Edition examines recent elections and the use and misuse of polls in campaigns, and delivers new coverage of web-based and smartphone polling.
 
Preface
 
Chapter 1: Polling and the Public
The Importance of Polls  
The Pervasiveness of Polls  
Commissioned Polls  
FRUGging, SUGging, and Pseudopolls  
The Citizen as a Consumer of Polls  
Citizens' Views of Polls  
Polling and Democracy  
Exercises  
 
Chapter 2: The Problem of Nonattitudes
An Example of Nonattitudes  
The Use of Screening Questions  
Nonattitudes and the Middle Position in Survey Questions  
Response Instability and Nonattitudes  
Implications for Democracy and Public Policy  
Conclusion  
Exercises  
 
Chapter 3: Wording and Context of Questions
Question Wording  
Question Order and Context  
Order, Context, and Visual Effects in Self-Administered Surveys  
An Extended Example  
Conclusion  
Exercises  
 
Chapter 4: Sampling Techniques
Nonprobability Sampling  
Sampling Designs  
Sample Size and Sampling Error  
Total Versus Actual Sample Size  
Response Rates  
Weighting the Sample  
Two Extended Examples  
Conclusion  
Exercises  
 
Chapter 5: Interviewing and Data Collection Procedures
Methods of Collecting Polling Information  
Interviewer Effects in Public Opinion Polling  
Internet Polling  
Conclusion  
Exercises  
 
Chapter 6: The Media and the Polls
Standards for Reporting Results  
Substantive Interpretation of Polls  
Media, Polls, and the News Reporting Emphasis  
Conclusion  
Exercises  
 
Chapter 7: Polls and Elections
Sponsors of Election Polls  
Types of Election Polls  
Uses of Polls by Candidates  
Polls in the Presidential Selection Process  
When and Why Election Predictions Are Wrong  
How Preelection Polls Affect Voters  
Conclusion  
Exercises  
 
Chapter 8: Analyzing and Interpreting Polls
Choosing Items to Analyze  
Examining Trends with Polling Data  
Examining Subsets of Respondents  
Interpreting Poll Results  
When Polls Conflict and When Polls Surprise: Some Final Thoughts  
Exercises  
 
Chapter 9: Polling and Democracy
How to Evaluate Polls: A Summary  
Polls and Their Effect on the Political System  
Conclusion  
Exercise  
 
Websites
 
References
 
Index

“Asher’s Polling and the Public has been a mainstay in public opinion courses for the last two decades. This is not an accident. It is unrivaled as an introductory guide to the foundations of measuring and understanding public opinion. This latest edition does not disappoint. Students will continue to get Asher’s straightforward and clear approach that includes all the new developments in polling and public opinion.”

Jason Gainous, Ph.D.
University of Louisville

“I’ve used Polling and the Public for several years in my courses. The book is pitched perfectly for the undergraduate reader: the concepts are clearly explained, the examples are memorable, and the comics engage students’ interest. As a political science professor, I also appreciate the way in which Asher addresses how polling fits into bigger questions about democracy.”

Travis N. Ridout
Washington State University

Polling the Public is enjoyable to read and quite accessible. Students don’t need to have a course in statistics to understand the material, which makes it particularly useful for those with varied academic backgrounds. Polling the Public is perfect for students who are interested in learning about all aspects of polling, from sampling to the interpretation of results. They will also benefit from the book's excellent discussions of the critical benefits and drawbacks of polling as a way of measuring public opinion. The book is well written and uses current and attention-grabbing examples.”  

Jennifer Bachner
John Hopkins University

"Polling and the Public is essential reading for any course on public opinion or survey research methods. My students have found Asher's lively writing style to be an engaging introduction to complex ideas, from survey sampling to the nature and measurement of attitudes. And just as important for the study of politics, Asher introduces students to broader theories about the place of polling within democratic governing institutions.  Asher covers the art and science of polling, while providing students with a foundation of knowledge to understand current controversies in public opinion research."

H. Whitt Kilburn
Grand Valley State University

Polling the Public brings a wonderful sense of humor that would incite my students to talk about it during their next class period. It is very straightforward in manner, not reliant on jargon, and accessible to undergraduates and grad students who haven’t had many classes in public opinion. This book’s straightforward approach is useful to instructors by providing a thorough introduction to the complexities and nuances of the field.” 

Justin Wedeking
University of Kentucky

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 7

Chapter 8


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ISBN: 9781506352428
£37.99