Election 101 — Predicting Politics

Introduction

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Throughout the election, pundits will endlessly speculate about who is ahead and the impact of the latest campaign tactic. Public opinion polls will purport to bring us what the voter thinks about candidates and issues. What is missing is an evaluation of whether the pundits and polls are getting it right and whether the information they create is useful and accurate.

Fortunately, we have books that tell us how public opinion is formed. Adam J. Berinsky’s landmark study Silent Voices: Public Opinion and Political Participation in America argues that the very process of collecting information on public preferences through surveys may bias our picture of those preferences while John Aldrich and Kathleen McGraw bring together a group of leading social scientists that developed and tested new measures that might be added to the American National Election Studies (ANES), the premier social science survey program devoted to voting and elections, in Improving Public Opinion Surveys: Interdisciplinary Innovation and the American National Election Studies.

Philip Tetlock analyzes the pundits in his groundbreaking book, Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? How do we know who to trust? Tetlock looks at how the so-called experts fare across different fields and reveals that foxes are indeed better prognosticators than hedgehogs.

Lastly, Princeton University Press is pleased to be working with Lynn Vavreck and John Sides who are undertaking an innovative and unprecedented publishing feat with their Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project. They are conducting the nation’s first internet-based presidential election poll throughout the coming months–a project that will reportedly reach the largest group of U.S. voters ever fielded in a study of a U.S. presidential race– and they are live-blogging results. Their research will eventually be published as several Princeton University Press e-books, the first one on the primaries is scheduled to release in late August, and then as a print book.

–Chuck Myers, group publisher in social sciences and editor in political science

 

Exclusive Excerpt

Click here to download an article on the Public Opinion Polls

Excerpted from The Concise Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History.

 

Featured Book

 

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Expert Political Judgment
How Good Is It? How Can We Know?
Philip E. Tetlock

 

 

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The Reading List

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Improving Public Opinion Surveys

Interdisciplinary Innovation and the American National Election Studies
Edited by John H. Aldrich & Kathleen M. McGraw
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Expert Political Judgment

How Good Is It? How Can We Know?
Philip E. Tetlock
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Hard Choices, Easy Answers

Values, Information, and American Public Opinion
R. Michael Alvarez & John Brehm
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Silent Voices

Public Opinion and Political Participation in America
Adam J. Berinsky
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Public Opinion and Democratic Accountability

How Citizens Learn about Politics
Vincent L. Hutchings
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Studies in Public Opinion

Attitudes, Nonattitudes, Measurement Error, and Change
Edited by Willem E. Saris & Paul M. Sniderman
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Facing the Challenge of Democracy

Explorations in the Analysis of Public Opinion and Political Participation
Edited by Paul M. Sniderman & Benjamin Highton

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