Where Did You Get This Number? A Pollster’s Guide to Making Sense of the World

Anthony Salvanto. Simon & Schuster, $26 (230p) ISBN 978-1-5011-7483-4
Salvanto, the director of elections and surveys for CBS News, does an admirable job of explaining how polls actually work and how polling data is compiled in this approachable overview. Salvanto plainly states polls aren’t concerned about people as individuals; they are about trying to find out what people share (or don’t share) with others concerning a particular topic. While he goes into great detail explaining how samples are put together and participants are contacted, the real meat of the book is in the details of particular polls and their findings. Salvanto takes readers beyond election day polling and into more complex realms like social issues—a survey he conducted in late 2017 revealed gun owners and nongun owners agree on more things than either group would expect. In a postmortem of the polling leading up to the 2016 presidential election, Salvanto reveals the key role “Reluctant Republicans”—those who didn’t back Donald Trump in the polls, but ended up voting for him—played in determining the election. Salvanto’s explanations and real-world examples add nuance to the numbers and graphs that fill the news. General interest readers and news junkies alike will come away with a greater appreciation of how polls and surveys are conducted, as well as a much clearer sense of what they mean. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/18/2018
Release date: 08/21/2018
Downloadable Audio - 256 pages - 978-1-5082-6873-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-5082-6874-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-5082-6875-8
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-5011-7485-8
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