Cover image for The evolution of presidential polling
The evolution of presidential polling
Eisinger, Robert M. (Robert Martin), 1965-
Publication Information:
New York : Cambridge University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
ix, 218 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
JK516 .E37 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The Evolution of Presidential Polling is a book about presidential power and autonomy. Since Roosevelt, virtually all presidents have employed private polls in some capacity. This book attempts to explain how presidential polling evolved from a rarely conducted secretive enterprise, to a commonplace event that is now considered an integral part of the presidency. Professor Eisinger contends that because presidents do not trust institutions such as Congress, the media and political parties - all of which also gauge public opinion - they opt to gain autonomy from these institutions by conducting private polls to be read and interpreted solely for themselves.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Eisinger (Lewis and Clark College) researches in impressive depth the use of polls from FDR through Clinton (and there is even a bit on Hoover). This is an important topic, especially as it relates to democracy and representation issues. Eisinger discusses these issues, but his focus is more on the causes of the rise of presidential polling than on its effects. He identifies and demonstrates a presidential quest for autonomy from Congress, the media, and parties as the principal cause (even though parties have paid for almost all these polls). On effects of polls, he agrees with Lawrence Jacobs and Robert Shapiro (Politicians Don't Pander, CH, Dec'00) that polls are used to help pursue politician's predetermined policies more than to shape policies. The writing style is sometimes redundant and dull, but it is clear. Eisinger tends to review others' views of normative questions more than he draws his own conclusions. A useful index and bibliography are included. The book is not of broad, general interest, but it provides detailed historical research for specialists (such as practitioners in polling and scholars on the presidency or polling). ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. J. Heyrman Berea College

Table of Contents

1 Seeking autonomy: the origins and growth of presidential polling
2 Planting the seeds of presidential polling
3 Checks and imbalances: congress and presidential polling
4 Dodging the hill: presidential polling in the post-Eisenhower years
5 Take the money and poll: parties and the public opinion presidency
6 The media are not messengers
7 Counting the people: the evolution of quantification and its effects on presidential polling
8 White House polling in the post-Watergate era
9 Presidential polling in the post-Reagan era: consequences and implications."