SAFE SEATS are legislative districts in which the incumbent is almost guaranteed reelection. If the incumbent garners over 55% of the vote, then his/her seat is considered safe. The minority party has virtually no chance of gaining the seat. In 1996 nine Republican and six Democratic incumbents had no major party opposition in the general election. Those are very safe seats. Safe seats are also seats where one party is virtually guaranteed to win. The Center for Voting and Democracy points out that only one in five U.S. House seats are won by less than 10%. The Center calls this "monopoly politics" because there is so little competition in most congressional districts.
In 1998, almost 100 congressional districts were not contested by one of the major political parties. See: MARGINAL SEAT; TARGETING.
References: Center for Voting and Democracy, igc.org/cvd; Juliana Gruenwald and Deborah Kalb, "GOP Likely to Yield Seats But Still Control House", Congressional Quarterly: Weekly Report, Vol. 54 ( September 28, 1996).
SAMPLE. The sample is the key element to successful public opinion polling. A sample is a part, or a subset of the population, whose opinion the pollster is attempting to reflect by the results. In order to conduct a poll the pollster needs a target population. In preelection polls the target population is registered voters, preferably likely voters. The statistical procedures of probability theory are applied to select the sample (subset) of the target population. The pollster will use a random method of selection, usually with the help of a computer to insure that everyone in the target population has an equal chance of being selected. Random-digit dialing is the predominant method of sampling for election surveys. Those who are selected are called respondents, and are usually contacted