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The Essentials of Political Analysis

The Essentials of Political Analysis

Fifth Edition
Additional resources:

September 2015 | 280 pages | CQ Press

“Overall, this is the best political science research methods book I’ve seen.”

-William Field, Rutgers University

This Fifth Edition of The Essentials of Political Analysis equips students with the skills to conduct political analysis and critically assess statistical research. Bestselling author Philip H. Pollock III builds students’ analytic abilities and develops their statistical reasoning with new data, fresh exercises, and engaging examples. This accessible introduction to the essential elements of political analysis walks students through the basics—measuring concepts, describing variables, formulating and testing hypotheses, controlling for alternative explanations, and interpreting graphic displays, and nearly 50 practical exercises motivate them to use their new skills with confidence.

Using SPSS, STATA or R?  Discounted package deals available with Philip H. Pollock’s companion workbooks. See more information on the “Packages” tab or contact your SAGE | CQ Press sales rep.   

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What This Book Is About

Facts and Values in Perspective

The Scientific Approach


Chapter 1: The Definition and Measurement of Concepts
Conceptual Definitions

Operational Definitions


Key Terms


Chapter 2: Measuring and Describing Variables
Measuring Variables

Describing Variables


Key Terms


Chapter 3: Proposing Explanations, Framing Hypotheses, and Making Comparisons
Proposing Explanations

Framing Hypotheses

Making Comparisons

Graphing Relationships and Describing Patterns


Key Terms


Chapter 4: Research Design and the Logic of Control
Experimental Designs

Controlled Comparisons

Three Scenarios


Key Terms


Chapter 5: Making Controlled Comparisons
Cross-tabulation Analysis

Graphing Controlled Comparisons

An Example of Interaction

Mean Comparison Analysis


Key Terms


Chapter 6: Foundations of Statistical Inference
Population Parameters and Sample Statistics

Random Sampling

The Standard Error of a Sample Mean

Inference Using the Normal Distribution

Inference Using the Student’s t-Distribution

What About Sample Proportions?


Key Terms


Chapter 7: Tests of Significance and Measures of Association
Statistical Significance

Measures of Association


Key Terms


Chapter 8: Correlation and Linear Regression

Bivariate Regression


Dummy Variable Regression

Multiple Regression


Key Terms


Chapter 9: Logistic Regression
The Logistic Regression Approach

Finding the Best Fit: Maximum Likelihood Estimation

Logistic Regression with Multiple Independent Variables

Working with Probabilities: MEMs and MERs


Key Terms


Chapter 10: Thinking Empirically, Thinking Probabilistically
Thinking Empirically

Thinking Probabilistically



Instructor Resources Site
  • Test Bank ready for copyediting in late July/early August
  • Solutions Manual ready for copyediting/typesetting now (April 2015)
  • Student Quizzes ready for copyediting in late July/early August

“With its carefully organized material, hands-on running examples, and accessible writing style, The Essentials of Political Analysis introduces readers to the foundational principles of research in Political Science in a natural and fluid fashion.  It effectively conveys to students the idea that the methods we use in Political Science research are crucial in providing answers to real world political and social questions.  The chapters on inference in particular are extremely well executed.”

Renato Corbetta
University of Alabama at Birmingham

“Overall, this is the best political science research methods book I’ve seen. It is brief yet covers the methodological basics of quantitative research design from concept development to difference of means, chi-square, and linear regression.  It is detailed, yet comprehensible.  Best of all, the companion text offers quality datasets and walk-throughs of SPSS that bring every concept here to life.  Combined, The Essentials of Political Analysis and An SPSS Companion to Political Analysis form the backbone of our undergraduate research methods teaching.”  

William Field
Rutgers University

Still the best textbook available for a short introductory course that is accessible yet not patronising by assuming that the students cannot understand mathematics.

Dr Allan Sikk
SSEES, University College London
November 19, 2015
Key features


  • All examples updated with current data sources, including the 2012 American National Election Study and the 2012 General Social Survey
  • Treatment of visual depictions of variables and relationships and enhanced coverage of logistic regression
  • A total of 48 end-of-chapter exercises, many new or completely revised
  • More accessible discussion of spurious, additive, and interaction relationships
  • Coverage of box plots and error bar charts
  • New discussion of ways to represent probabilities in logistic regression


  • Emphasizes the supporting role of statistical reasoning in helping students describe and interpret the empirical world 
  • Chapters 1-5 focus on how to think clearly about concepts, describe variables, frame and test hypotheses, evaluate research design, and control for rival explanations 
  • The foundations of statistical inference are introduced in Chapter 6 
  • Chapters 7-9 look at statistical significance, measures of association, linear regression, interaction effects, and logistic regression

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Preview this book

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