Government 90nl Election Polling and Public Opinion Course Web Site: Fall 2007, Harvard University Thursdays 3:00-5:00 pm. Location: CGIS N-108

Chase H. Harrison Preceptor in Survey Research, Department of Government, FAS E-mail: Office: CGIS, N407 (617) 384-7251 Office hours: Thursdays, 12:00-2:00 pm and by appointment

Course Description Political polls and other survey methodologies are frequently used to understand and explain both voter intentions and public opinion. This course will examine the theoretical and practical issues involved in using polls and surveys. We will explore the normative assumptions involved in polling, study possible sources of error in survey measures, and discuss the prospective implications of polling for policy and governance. This course will provide us with an opportunity to critically examine the intersection between research methods and political discourse by focusing our attention on election and public opinion polls, particularly as they are reported in the media and used as a source of political information by the general public and political leaders. It is not necessary for students to have any specialized mathematical or statistical background for this course. Seminar Requirements: Seminar Participation: Because this is a seminar, preparation and participation is expected. Each week, students should upload two or three questions on the weeks readings to the course web site. These should be uploaded by 12:00 p.m. (noon) on the day of the class. Each week, one or two students will also be responsible for presenting short critical discussions of selected class materials. Methods Summary: (15% of final grade) Each student will be responsible for preparing a short synopsis of a methodological issue involved in survey research or polling. Students will produce a short (1 – 2 page) handout describing a methodological issue, and will provide a brief (five minute) overview of the issue at the start of the class. Each student will be responsible for one methods summary. Presentations will be spread out over the course of the semester. Sample topics might include “Internet sampling methods,” “cell phone coverage bias in telephone surveys,” or “race of interviewer effects.”

September 12, 2007

Survey Critiques: You will get more out of this course, and enjoy it more, if you are actively searching for and critiquing actual survey results. Each student will be responsible for writing two short (2 – 4 page) critiques of a survey, survey question, poll, or interpretation of a survey. The critique should focus on one particular aspect or issue of the report and should be some aspect of survey methodology covered in the course. You should provide a copy of (or link to) to the relevant survey report or release you discuss, although any relevant parts for your discussion should be presented in your paper. The first critique must be received by the start of class November 1, and the second is due by the start of class December 13, 2007. Critiques handed in after these deadlines will be penalized ½ letter grade (5 / 100 points) for each day or portion thereof ( 1 – 24 hours) it is late. Students who complete two critiques by November 15 will have the option of writing a third critique by December 13. In this case, the critique with the lowest grade will be dropped. Research Proposal: Each student is expected to write a 2 – 4 page research proposal on a topic of their choosing. The proposal ideally is a summary and outline of the paper they hope to present as their final work in this course, and students are encouraged to meet with the instructor early in the semester to discuss topics and approaches for the final paper.. Proposals must be handed in at the start of class on November 15. The grade for the final research paper will be penalized ½ letter grade (5 / 100 points) if a research proposal is not submitted in good faith by this time. Final Research Paper: Each student is expected to write a final paper (15-20 pages, double spaced, 12 point) on a topic of their choosing. The final paper should be submitted in both electronic (*.doc or *.pdf) and paper versions. The final paper is due Wednesday, January 9, 2008, at 2:00 p.m. The paper will be penalized ½ letter grade (5 / 100 points) for each day ( 1 – 24 hours) it is late. All papers must be received by Sunday, January 13, in order to receive any credit. Grading: Seminar participation, including questions and discussions of readings (25%) Survey Critiques: (20%). Methods summary (15%) Final paper (40%.)


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Required Readings: Three books have been ordered for your purchase in the Harvard Coop: Lavrakas, Paul J. and Michael M. Traugott: Election Polls, the News Media, and Democracy. New York: Chatham House (Seven Bridges). (2000) Manza, Jeff, Fay Lomax Cook and Benjamin I. Page. Navigating Public Opinion: Polls, Policy, and the Future of Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press. (2002) Weisberg, Herbert F. The Total Survey Error Approach; A Guide to the New Science of Survey Research Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (2005) Most other readings will be available through the course web page or on reserve in the Harvard College Library. In a small number of cases, the course web site will direct you to interactive papers published on the World Wide Web. A small course pack will be available for purchase in Gnomon Copy (1304 Mass. Ave.)

Tentative Schedule and Readings:

CP: Course Pack L: On Reserve in Lamont Library Note: POQ: Public Opinion Quarterly IJPOR: International Journal of Public Opinion Research APSR: American Political Science Review AJPS: American Journal of Political Science JOP: Journal of Politics

Sept. 18: 4:00 – 5:00 Special Introductory Session CGIS N-450 Sept. 20 Welcome, Introduction, and Logistics Meets in Regular Classroom: CGIS N-108 Weisberg pp. 1-28; pp 297-308; pp 325-331.


September 12, 2007

Sept. 27 What is public opinion? Herbst, Susan: Numbered Voices; How Public Opinion Polling Has Shaped American Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (1993) Conclusion (CP) Lippman, Walter M. The Phantom Public (1927) pp. Selections (CP) Gallup, George and Saul Forbes Rae: The Pulse of Democracy (New York: Simon and Schuster. 1940.) pp. 257-272 (CP) Verba, Sidney "The Citizen as Respondent: Sample Surveys and American Democracy" APSR: 90:1 pp. 1 - 7 (1996) Taylor, Humphry S. "The Value of Polls in Promoting Good Government and Democracy." pp 315-324 In: Manza, Cook, and Page

October 4 Voter Turnout and Prediction Steven Rosenstone and John Mark Hansen, Mobilization, Participation, and Democracy in America, chap 5 (CP) Daves, Rob. "Who Will Vote? Ascertaining Likelihood to Vote in a Probable Electorate in PreElection Polls.” (pp 206-260 Traugott & Lavrakas) Weisberg, Herbert F. The Total Survey Error Approach; A Guide to the New Science of Survey Research. pp 29-42; 205-257 Baretto et. al. "Do Absentee Voters Differ from Polling Place Voters?: New Evidence from California" POQ 70:2 pp. 224-234. (2006)

October 11 Media Coverage of Electoral and Public Opinion Polls Ladd, Everett Carll: "Polling and the Press; A Clash of Institutional Imperatives" POQ 44:4 pp. 574-584 Iyengar, Shanto, and Donald Kinder. News that Matters. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. Selections (CP) Bauman, Sandra L. and Paul J. Lavrakas: "Reporters use of Causal Explanations in Interpreting Election Polls." (162-181 Lavrakas and Traugott) Weisberg, Herbert F. The Total Survey Error Approach; A Guide to the New Science of Survey Research., pp. 72-129 Traugott, Michael M. and Mee-Eun Lee. "Public Attention to Polls in an Election Year." (185205 Lavrakas and Traugott) Weisberg, Herbert F. The Total Survey Error Approach; A Guide to the New Science of Survey Research., pp. 72-129


September 12, 2007

October 18 Public Opinion Polls and Politics Hardy, Bruce W. and Kathleen Hall Jamieson (2005): "Can a Poll Affect Perception of Candidate Traits?" POQ 69:5 pp. 725-743. Son, Young Jun and David A. Weaver: "Another Look at What Moves Public Opinion: Media Agenda Setting and Polls in the 2000 US Election" (2005) International Journal of Public Opinion Research Vol. 18 No. 2 pp. 174-197 Traugott, Michael. "Impact of Media Polls on the Public." (CP) Robert S. Erikson, Costas Panagopoulos, and Christopher Wlezien "The Likely (And Unlikely) Voters and the Assessment of Campaign Dynamics" POQ 68:4 pp. 588-601. (2004) Daves, Robert P. and Frank Newport: Pollsters Under Attack; 2004 Election Incivility and It's Consequences" POQ 69:5 pp. 670-681 (2005) October 25 Pre Election Polls Lavrakas, Paul J. and Michael W. Traugott. "Election Polling in the 21st Century. Challenges and Opportunities" Lavrakas and Traugott pp 321 - 333 Visser, Krosnick, Marquette and Curtin; "Improving Election Forecasting: Allocation of Unlikely Respondents, Identification of Likely Voters, and Response Order Effects." Lavrakas and Traugott: 224 - 260) Bartels, Larry M. and C. Anthony Broh: "A Review: The 1988 New Hampshire Presidential Primaries" (POQ) Vol. 53 No. 4 pp. 563-589 Lau, Richard: "An Analysis of the Accuracy of Trial Heat Polls in 2002" (POQ) 58:1 pp. 2 - 20 Voss, D. Steven, Andrew Gelman and Gary King. "A Review: Pre-Election Survey Methodology: Details from Eight Polling Organizations, 1988-1992." POQ: 59:1 pp. 98-132 (1995) Taylor, Humphrey M. "Horses for Courses: How Different Countries Measure Public Opinion in Very Different Ways" The Public Perspective 6:2 (February/March 1995) (CP) "Tracking Polls: How We Did Them: A Roper Center Symposium…" The Public Perspective, 8:1 (December/January 1997) pp 44-48 (CP)


September 12, 2007

November 1 Exit Polls: More Accurate than Elections Themselves? Mitofsky, Warren J. "A Short History of Exit Polls" Moore, David W. How to Steal an Election. (2006). New York: Nation Books. Selections. (CP) Weisberg, Herbert F. The Total Survey Error Approach; A Guide to the New Science of Survey Research., pp. 159-204. Traugott, Michael M., Benjamin Highton and Henery E. Brady. "A Review of Controversies Concerning the 2004 Presidential Exit Polls" Report to the National Commission on Elections and Voting New York: Social Science Research Council (2005) "Report on Mexico's Standoff" Transcript of Interview between Andrew Kohut and Warren Mitofsky, July 6, 2006 (Pew Research Center) Biemer, Paul, Ralph Folsom, Richard Kulka, Judith Lessler, Babu Shah and Michael Weeks. “An Evaluation of Procedures and Operations Used by the Voter News Service for the 2000 Presidential Election“ (2003) POQ: Vol. 67 pp. 32-44 Supplementary Reading: Neil Nevitte and Glen Cowden. The Quick Count and Election Observation; An NDI Guide for Civic Organizations and Political Parties. Washington, DC: National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. (2002) pp. 57-80; 112-120 Freeman, Steven F. "Who Really Won -- And Lost -- The 2004 Presidential Election" Paper presented to the 61st Annual Conference of the American Association of Public Opinion Research, Montreal, Canada, May 19, 2006. Lindemann, Mark. "Beyond Exit Poll Fundamentalism: Surveying the 2004 Exit Poll Debate" Paper prepared for presentation at the 61st Annual Conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, Montreal, Canada, May 18-21, 2006 (July 1, 2006 revision) Frankovic, Kathleen A. "News Organizations Responses to the Mistakes of 2000; Why They Will Continue to Project Elections" (2003) POQ: Vol. 67: pp. 19-31. CBS News Internal Evaluation of Calling Decisions in 2000 Merkle and Edelman: "A Review of the 1996 Voter News Service Exit Polls from a Total Survey Error Perspective" Mitofsky, Warren and Joe Lenski: "Adventure in Baku; Exit-Polling Azerbaijan" (November 2005) Online publication: Konner, Joan. "The Case for Caution: The System is Dangerously Flawed" POQ (2003): Vol. 18 pp. 5 – 18


September 12, 2007

November 8 Measuring the Accuracy of Pre Election Polls Traugott, Michael L.: "Assessing the Performance of Pre-Election Polls in 2000" (POQ) Vol. 65 pp. 389-419. Ladd, Everett Carll: The Pollster's Waterloo, Wall Street Journal, 19 November 1996 Wasserman, Gerals S: "Were the Polls Right? No, Only Once in 4,900 Elections Would Chance Alone Produce Such Failures" (Working Paper with Interactive Spreadsheets) ( Taylor, Humphrey: "Why Most Polls Overestimated Clinton's Margin." The Public Perspective, Vol. 8 no. 2 (February/March 1997) Mitofsky, Warren J. 1998. "Was 1996 a worse year for polls than 1948?" The Public Opinion Quarterly 62(2):230-49. Traugott, Michael L.: "The Accuracy of Pre-Election Polls in the 2004 Presidential Election" (POQ) November 15 Controversies Surrounding Nonscientific Polls Krosnik, John. "A Review: Question Wording and Survey Results: The Case of Aetna Life and Casualty" POQ Taylor, Humphry: "Advocacy Polls: Hired Guns or Loose Cannons?" The Public Perspective, Vol 1 No. 1, November/December 1989 (pp 41-42) Chris Mooney, "John Zogby's Creative Polls," The American Prospect vol. 14 no. 1, February 1, 2003 . Traugott, Michael and Mee-Eun Kang "Push Polls as Negative Persuasion Strategies" pp. 281300 in Traugott and Lavrakas “The Perception of Bias in Polling: What Should We Expect of Ceaser's Wife?" (Section in The Public Perspective; 9:5 August/September 1998 pp 32 - 37 Blumnethal, Mark M. (2005) "Toward an Open Source Methodology: What We Can Learn from the Blogosphere" POQ 69(5) pp 655-669 Tom Rosenstiel: "Political Polling and the News Media Culture: A Case of More Being Less" POQ 69(5) "What Was Wrong With the CBS News 800 Number Call In?" (Symposium in: The Public Perspective: Vol. 3 No. 3 pp 18 - 24) (CP) The AMA Spring Break Poll (Sources Linked On-line) National Council on Public Polls Standards of Disclosure: "" American Association of Public Opinion Research Code of Ethics 2005


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November 22 Thanksgiving Recess – No Class Meeting

November 29 Attitudes and Nonattitudes Converse, Philip E. "The Nature of Belief Systems in the Mass Publics." In Ideology and Discontent. Edited by David Apter. New York: Free Press. (CP) Zaller, John R. "Diffusion of Political Attitudes" in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Vol. 53 No. 5 pp 821-833 (1987) Bartels, Larry M. "Uninformed Votes: Information Effects in Presidential Elections." American Journal of Political Science 40 (1996): 194-230. Krosnik et. al. "The Impact of No Opinion Options on Response Quality: Nonattitude Reduction or Invitation to Satisfice" POQ Berinsky, Adam J. Silent Voices. Princeton: Princeton University Press (2004) Ch. 1-2 and Conclusion (L) December 6 The Impact of Public Opinion Measures on Public Policy Page, Benjamin I. And Robert Y. Shapiro. (1983). “Effects of Public Opinion on Policy.” APSR, 77, 175-190. Manza, Jeff and Fay Lomax Cook. "The Impact of Public Opinion on Public Policy: The State of the Debate." In: Manza, Cook, and Page (pp. (17-32) Erickson, Robert S. Michael A. Mackuen and James A. Stimson "Public Opinion and Policy: Causal Flow in a Macro System Model." pp 33 - 53 In: Manza, Cook, and Page Jacobs, Lawrence R. and Robert Y. Shapiro "Politics and Policymaking in the Real World: Crafted Talk and the Loss of Responsiveness." In: Manza, Cook, and Page (pp. (54-75) Shapiro, Robert Y. and Lawrence R. Jacobs. "Public Opinion, Foreign Policy, and Democracy: How Presidents Use Public Opinion" pp 172 - 200 In: Manza, Cook, and Page Cull, Steven and Clay Ramsey. "How US Policymakers Misperceive US Public Opinion of Foreign Policy" pp 201 - 218 In: Manza, Cook, and Page December 13 Open Week Material and Readings to be assigned based on course focus and student preferences


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