Where Did You Get This Number?
A Pollster’s Guide to Making Sense of the World
By Anthony Salvanto
Read by: Anthony Salvanto
Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: 5 hrs and 45 mins
Release date: 08-21-18
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
CBS News’ Elections and Surveys Director Anthony Salvanto takes you behind the scenes of polling to show you how to think about who we are and where we’re headed as a nation.
As Elections and Surveys Director for CBS News, it’s Anthony Salvanto’s job to understand you—what you think and how you vote. He’s the person behind so many of the poll numbers you see today, making the winner calls on election nights and surveying thousands of Americans. In Where Did You Get This Number? A Pollster’s Guide to Making Sense of the World, Salvanto takes readers on a fast-paced, eye-opening tour through the world of polling and elections and what they really show about America today, beyond the who’s-up-who’s-down headlines and horse races. Salvanto is just the person to bring much-needed clarity in a time when divisions seem to run so deep.
The language of polling may be numbers, but the stories it tells are about people. In this engaging insider’s account, Salvanto demystifies jargon with plain language and answers readers’ biggest questions about polling and pollsters. How can they talk to 1,000 people and know the country? How do they know the winner so fast? How do they decide what questions to ask? Why didn’t they call you? Salvanto offers data-driven perspective on how Americans see the biggest issues of our time, from the surprising 2016 election, to the shocks of the financial crisis, the response to terrorism and the backlash against big money. He doesn’t shy away from pointing out what’s worked and what hasn’t. Salvanto takes readers inside the CBS newsroom on Election Night 2016 and makes readers rethink conventional wisdom and punditry just in time for the 2018 midterms. He shows who really decides elections and why you should think about a poll differently from the forecasts popularized by Nate Silver and others.
Where Did You Get This Number? is an essential resource for anyone interested in politics—and how to better measure and understand patterns of human behavior. For any American who wants to get a better read on what America is thinking, this book shows you how to make sense of it all. http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Where-Did-You-Get-This-Number/Anthony-Salvanto/9781508268734
Anthony Salvatino has a Ph.D. in Political Science and is the Director of Elections and Surveys at CBS news where he has worked since 2002. That he has a doctorate in Political Science rather than Statistics, Math, or even Mass Communication was the first thing I learned — I always thought political polls were conducted and analyzed by Statisticians or people who were specialists in communication polling.
Today we are in a time of great chaos and mistrust we need to know there is no fake wizard behind the screen, but science and journalists. I found this book reassuring.
That he is an expert: experienced, skilled and confident is without doubt. Listening to him read his book makes me even more certain that when this guy makes a decision about who has won or lost, or tells us about how the nation feels about a political topic or candidate, that he is telling us what he believes is true as far as his numbers and analysis goes. His reading of his own story tells me that the stress and cadence are what her wants, and his humor and voice tell me he’s a bit of a nerd. It’s amazing he can make a subject as dry as how one collects and analyzes survey data at all interesting, and occasionally funny, is a miracle. And it is also evident that he enjoys his work.
But, there is a lot of explanation of things mostly political scientists care about, so I chose to listen in smaller pieces. A lot of what he knows is experiential – the way he can look at early numbers on election night and see that a lead will not hold up because those early numbers come from absentee ballots and those have a tendency to have been sent in by more Democrats and younger voters.
I’ve been stymied by politics recently and got this book to help me understand the dynamic between the media and the current administration: is it “fake news,” does the mainstream media contaminate the process. Can we trust the maje network pollsters? I don’t know if we can trust everyone. But, from his narration, education and writing I trust this one.