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About The Book

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.

About The Author

Clarke L. Smith/CBS News

Anthony Salvanto, PhD, is CBS News Director of Elections and Surveys. He currently conducts all polling across the nation, states, and congressional races, and heads the Decision Desk that projects outcomes on Election Nights. He appears regularly on Face the Nation, the CBS Evening News, CBS This Morning, and more. Where Did You Get This Number? is his first book.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (August 21, 2018)
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501174841

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Raves and Reviews

“At CBS News we all knew Anthony Salvanto was the best of the best in polling, but in this book we discover he’s also a great storyteller. Salvanto mixes election night dramas with candid insight into the strengths and weakness of polling and the growing influence that public opinion sampling plays on everything from the products we buy to the candidates we choose for public office. An excellent read for politicians, journalists and voters." —Bob Schieffer, CBS News

"A revealing look at the numbers, how they're derived and interpreted, and how they sometimes fail us. Timely reading for the coming midterm elections." —Kirkus Reviews

“Anthony Salvanto's Where Did You Get This Number? is a witty, approachable, relevant and fun read…Whether you are a political junkie, or someone who uses market research to better understand your customer, or simply want to better understand how Trump beat Clinton, it is must reading. After doing research and surveys for hundreds of clients around the world, I wish all of them had read this book to understand how to turn data into insight and actionable intelligence. My favorite parts include his anecdotes about tasting his grandmother's spaghetti sauce to explain to non-statisticians how you can understand the entire public from just talking to some of them, and how picking the right movie to see with your diverse family is why all averages and percentages are not created equal. The book is a great resource to not only understand surveys and polls, but more importantly, to better understand other people…a real page-turner that's hard to put down.” —David B. Rockland, Ph.D., retired Chairman and CEO, Ketchum Global Research & Analytics

“My admired friend Anthony Salvanto has written a good book about polling and you had better read it if you want to understand how professionals go about getting the right readings as they take the temperature of our country.” —Peggy Noonan, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, The Wall Street Journal

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