Most news media are "data rich but analysis poor" when it comes to election polling. Since election polls clearly have the power to influence campaigns and election post-mortems, it is important that "spin" not take precedence over significance in the reporting of poll results. In this volume, experts in the media and in academe challenge the conventional approaches that most news media take in their poll-based campaign coverage. The book reports new research findings on news coverage of recent presidential elections and provides a myriad of examples of how journalists and news media executives can improve their analysis of poll data, thereby better serving our political processes.
Preface -- Introduction -- News Media's Use of Presidential Polling in the 1990s: An Introduction and Overview -- Developments in Media Polling -- Election Polling in Historical Perspective -- Page One Use of Presidential Pre-Election Polls: 1980-1992 -- The Use of Focus Groups to Supplement Campaign Coverage -- The Methodology of Media Polls -- How Pollsters and Reporters Can Do a Better Job Informing the Public: A Challenge for Campaign '96 -- A Review of the 1992 VRS Exit Polls -- Methods of Allocating Undecided Respondents to Candidate Choices in Pre-Election Polls -- Media Polls in the 1992 Election -- The 1992 Election and the Polls: Neither Politics Nor Polling as Usual -- The Evolving Use of Public Opinion Polls by The New York Times: The Experience in the 1992 Presidential Election -- Problems of Character: Was It the Candidate or the Press? -- Public Reactions to Media Polls -- The People, the Press and Campaign '92 -- Media, Momentum and Money: Horse Race Spin in the 1988 Republican Primaries -- Conclusion -- The Media's Use of Election Polls: A Synthesis and Recommendations for 1996 and Beyond