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The Essentials of Political Analysis

The Essentials of Political Analysis

Fifth Edition
Additional resources:

October 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

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