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Elections and Exit Polling

Fritz J. Scheuren and Wendy Alvey
John Wiley
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Sarah Boslaugh
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Political polls are very much in the news these days, and after the disputed 2000 and 2004 presidential elections the wise statistician may wish prepare for this November’s election by boning up on the issues (relating to polls, not politics), if only in anticipation for the questions curious friends and colleagues may raise. News coverage of polls also offers an excellent opportunity to explain basic statistical concepts to people, whether in the classroom or in the mass media, in terms of issues which interest them.

Elections and Exit Polling is an excellent basic guide to election polling, consisting of introductory material written by the editors and essays or excerpts of essays by various experts in the field. Much of the material could be used in any social science class, as it requires only elementary mathematical understanding; more technical material is included in an appendix which will be of interest to those studying or working in statistics. Chapters cover the 2000 presidential election, the 2004 presidential election, the 2006 mid-term elections, a global view of polling (including examples from Mexico, Turkey, Sweden, Japan, and Canada), and recommendations for conducting quality exit polls. All chapters include ample footnotes and reference lists, making this volume an excellent starting point for anyone considering research or employment in this field.

The book is dedicated to Warren Mitofsky, a survey statistician whose many accomplishments include the development of random digit dialing techniques for telephone surveys. In 1967 Mitofsky began working on election coverage for CBS News and he and George Fine introduced the now-common practice of exit polling (interviewing voters as they leave the polls) that year during the gubernatorial election in Kentucky. In 1993 Mitofsky left CBS to found Mitofsky International and became a global consultant on exit polling.

Fritz J. Scheuren is Vice President for Statistics at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago and served as the 100th president of the American Statistical Association. He has published over 250 journal articles on sampling, survey design, process quality, auditing and missing data. Wendy Alvey has over 25 years of experience as a policy analyst and senior statistician in government and the corporate world. She helped develop census policies to protect respondent confidentiality and has conducted extensive research on the statistical uses of administrative records.

Sarah Boslaugh ( is a Performance Review Analyst for BJC HealthCare and an Adjunct Instructor in the Washington University School of Medicine, both in St. Louis, MO. Her books include An Intermediate Guide to SPSS Programming: Using Syntax for Data Management (Sage, 2004), Secondary Data Sources for Public Health: A Practical Guide (Cambridge, 2007), and Statistics in a Nutshell (O'Reilly, forthcoming), and she served as Editor-in-Chief for The Encyclopedia of Epidemiology (Sage, 2008).

The table of contents is not available.