Presidential Polls and the News Media

Presidential Polls and the News Media

Presidential Polls and the News Media

Presidential Polls and the News Media


Experts in the media and academe challenge the conventional approaches that most news media take in their poll-based campaign coverage. They report new research findings on news coverage of recent presidential elections and provide numerous examples of how journalists and news media executives can improve their analysis of poll data. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.


This volume is a direct outgrowth of an initiative we began in 1988 to study and improve the way that election polls are used by the news media. This effort has involved a collaboration of faculty and resources from Northwestern University and the University of Michigan. Participating units in Evanston have included the Northwestern University Survey Laboratory, the Institute for Modern Communications, the Medill School of Journalism, and the Department of Communication Studies. In Ann Arbor, the Center for Political Studies at the Institute for Social Research and the Department of Communication have been the collaborating organizations.

As part of our effort, we organized a national conference of media polling experts in 1989, published an edited volume in 1991 that focused on the media's use of polling in the coverage of the 1988 Bush/Dukakis election, gave papers and participated in panel discussions at several professional association meetings, published other articles, and modified our curricular offerings to inform our students in journalism, communication studies, and political science about this important topic area.

The present volume contains chapters from many of the same experts who contributed to the previous edited volume (Lavrakas and Holley, 1991). As explained in Chapter 1, this set of chapters presents more original research than the previous volume, with more of an "academic" bent to several of the chapters. Also, it addresses more applied aspects of using information gathered via election surveys and other related methods, such as focus groups, in the production of election coverage by describing several case studies of actual and potential "stories" in the 1992 Bush/Clinton/Perot election.

We thank the many experts who contributed the chapters in the book. We also extend a special thanks to Jenna Powell of the Northwestern University Survey Lab for her editing and layout skills in bringing this volume to production quality. Unlike its predecessor, this volume is unfortunately missing the insightful participation of I.A. "Bud" Lewis, senior journalist and pollster for the Los Angeles Times, who died in 1990.

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