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The Essentials of Political Analysis

The Essentials of Political Analysis

Sixth Edition
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August 2019 | 368 pages | CQ Press
“Pollock and Edwards explain the nuts-and-bolts of research design and data analysis in a clear and concise style. The Essential of Political Analysis is an intuitive introduction to complex material, replete with examples from the political science literature that add relevance to statistical concepts. This text offers students an excellent balance between the technical and the practical.”
—Francis Neely, San Francisco State University

Gain the skills you need to conduct political analysis and critically assess statistical research. 

In this Sixth Edition of The Essentials of Political Science, bestselling authors Philip H. Pollock III and Barry C. Edwards build students’ analytic abilities and develop their statistical reasoning with new data, fresh exercises, and accessible examples. This brief, accessible guide walks students through the essentials—measuring concepts, formulating and testing hypotheses, describing variables—while using key terms, chapter-opening objectives, over 80 tables and figures, and practical exercises to get them using and applying their new skills.

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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Tables, Figures, and Boxes
About the Authors
Facts and Values in Perspective  
The Scientific Approach  
What This Book Is About  
Key Terms  
CHAPTER 1 • The Definition and Measurement of Concepts
Learning Objectives  
Conceptual Definitions  
Operational Definitions  
Measurement Error  
Reliability and Validity  
Working with Datasets, Codebooks, and Software  
Key Terms  
CHAPTER 2 • Measuring and Describing Variables
Learning Objectives  
Essential Features  
Levels of Measurement  
Describing Variables  
Transforming Variables  
Key Terms  
CHAPTER 3 • Proposing Explanations, Framing Hypotheses, and Making Comparisons
Learning Objectives  
“All Models Are Wrong, But Some Are Useful”  
Proposing Explanations  
Framing Hypotheses  
Common Mistakes in Hypothesis Writing  
Making Comparisons  
Graphing Relationships and Describing Patterns  
Key Terms  
CHAPTER 4 • Research Design, Research Ethics, and Evidence of Causation
Learning Objectives  
Establishing Causation  
Experimental Designs  
Selecting Cases for Analysis  
Conducting Research Ethically  
Key Terms  
CHAPTER 5 • Making Controlled Comparisons
Learning Objectives  
The Logic of Controlled Comparisons  
Essential Terms and Concepts  
Effect of Partisanship on Gun Control Vote, Controlling for Gender: An Illustrative Example  
Controlled Mean Comparisons  
Identifying Patterns  
Advanced Methods of Making Controlled Comparisons  
Key Terms  
CHAPTER 6 • Foundations of Statistical Inference
Learning Objectives  
Population Parameters and Sample Statistics  
The Central Limit Theorem and the Normal Distribution  
Quantifying Standard Errors  
Confidence Intervals  
Sample Size and the Margin of Error of a Poll  
Inferences with Small Batches: The Student’s t-Distribution  
Key Terms  
CHAPTER 7 • Tests of Significance and Measures of Association
Learning Objectives  
Statistical Significance and Null Hypothesis Testing  
One-Sample Significance Tests  
Two-Sample Significance Tests  
The Chi-square Test  
Measures of Association  
Criticisms of Null Hypothesis Testing  
Key Terms  
CHAPTER 8 • Correlation and Linear Regression
Learning Objectives  
Bivariate Regression  
Educational Attainment and Voter Turnout in States Example  
Multiple Regression  
Some Practical Issues: Multicollinearity, Parsimony, and Missing Data  
Analyzing Residuals to Evaluate Linear Regression Models  
Key Terms  
CHAPTER 9 • Logistic Regression
Learning Objectives  
The Logistic Regression Approach  
Logistic Regression Approach to Vote Choice in the 2016 Presidential Election  
Finding the Best Fit: Maximum Likelihood Estimation  
Logistic Regression with Multiple Independent Variables  
Graphing Predicted Probabilities with Multiple Independent Variables  
Key Terms  
CHAPTER 10 • Conducting Your Own Political Analysis
Picking a Good Topic  
Getting Focused and Staying Motivated  
Reviewing Prior Literature  
Collecting Data  
Writing It Up  
Maintain a Scientific Mindset  
Key Terms  


Instructor Resources Site

Instructor Teaching Site (Password Protected)

SAGE edge for Instructors, supports your teaching by making it easy to integrate quality content and create a rich learning environment for students. 
  • Test banks provide a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • Sample course syllabi for semester and quarter courses provide suggested models for structuring your courses.
  • Editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia presentation for your course. 
  • Instructor manual is provided for each chapter, including learning objectives, chapter summary and outline, discussion questions, exercises, and Web resources, to support your teaching.
  • Solutions manual accompanies exercises in the book.
  • All tables and figures from the book are available for your use in class lectures or discussions.

Student Study Site
Student Study Site (Open Access)

SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help students accomplish their coursework goals in an easy-to-use learning environment.
  • Mobile-friendly eFlashcards strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts. 
  • Mobile-friendly practice quizzes allow for independent assessment by students of their mastery of course material.
  • Learning objectives reinforce the most important material.
  • Screencast videos, created by author Philip Pollock, of the guided examples from each chapter, intended to enhance understanding of key topics
  • Meaningful multimedia links facilitate student use of Internet resources and further exploration of topics.
Key features
  • New content around advanced methods, like network analysis and matching methods, create opportunities for classroom discussions and stimulate interest in political science research.
  • QR codes linking to author videos reinforce learning by enabling students to hear first-hand from the authors about the material that was discussed in the book
  • New material on conducting original research guides students through the process of writing a research paper. 
  • Discussions of research ethics introduces students to the ethical responsibilities that political scientists owe society, human subjects, and the discipline. 
  • Updated figures and examples throughout the book bring concepts to life by connecting the chapter material to current events such as the 2016 Presidential Election.  


  • An emphasis on the supporting role of statistical reasoning helps students describe and interpret the empirical world.   
  • The essentials are presented in a non-statistical context within the first five chapters to enable students think clearly about concepts, describe variables, frame and test hypotheses, evaluate research design, and control for rival explanations.  
  • With these essentials in place, students are able to appreciate the pivotal role of inferential statistics—introduced and applied, with increasing sophistication, in Chapters 6 through 9
  • The final chapter, “Conducting Your Own Political Analysis” guides students through the process of writing an effective research paper.
  • SAGE edge online resources provide students helpful tools, including eFlashcards, practice quizzes, and more, in one easy-to-use online environment. 

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