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The Essentials of Political Analysis

The Essentials of Political Analysis

Sixth Edition

July 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

Give your students the SAGE edge!

SAGE edge offers a robust online environment featuring an impressive array of free tools and resources for review, study, and further exploration, keeping both instructors and students on the cutting edge of teaching and learning. Learn more at

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.

“A great resource to get students up and running on statistical analysis in politics. I recommend this book to all my colleagues. The accompanying workbook for R is also excellent.”

Sarah E. Croco
University of Maryland, College Park

“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

“The recent edition of The Essentials of Political Analysis provides a strong foundation in statistics for political science students. The integration between the main textbook and its companion is excellent. The instructor resources present effective teaching tools that complement the book seamlessly.”

Tijen Demirel-Pegg
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
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. 

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781506379593

ISBN: 9781506379616