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This guide contains information about American and international governments and elections.

Books and eBooks - CSU Only

Lost in a Gallup : Polling Failure in U.S. Presidential Elections

A sweeping look at the messy and contentious past of US presidential pre-election polls and why they aren't as reliable as we think. Polls in U.S. presidential elections can and do get it wrong—as surprising outcomes in 2020, in 2016, in 2012, in 2004, in 2000 all remind us. Lost in a Gallup captures in lively and unprecedented fashion the stories of polling flops, epic upsets, unforeseen landslides, and exit poll fiascoes in presidential elections since 1936. Polling's checkered record in elections has rarely been considered in detail and, until now, has never been addressed collectively. Polling embarrassments are not all alike. Pollsters have anticipated tight elections when landslides occurred; they have indicated the wrong winner in closer elections; state polls have confounded expected national outcomes. Exit polling has thrown Election Day into confusion. The work of venerable pollsters has been singularly and memorably in error. It is a rare presidential election not to be marred by polling controversies. Lost in a Gallup casts a critical eye on major figures in election polling such as George Gallup, a prickly founding father of public opinion research.

Book cover of The Elections of 2020

The Elections of 2020 by Michael Nelson

The Elections of 2020 is a timely, comprehensive, scholarly, and engagingly written account of the 2020 elections. It features essays by an all-star team of political scientists in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 general election, chronicling every stage of the presidential race as well as the coterminous congressional elections, paying additional attention to the role of the media and campaign finance in the process. Broad in coverage and bolstered by tables and figures presenting exit polls and voting results in the primaries, caucuses, and the general election, these essays discuss the consequences of these elections for the presidency,

Public Opinion - Measuring the American Mind

The new edition of this popular textbook provides a comprehensive, accessible introduction to public opinion in the United States and describes how public opinion data are collected, how they are used, and the role they play in the U.S. political system. Bardes and Oldendick introduce students to the history of polling and explain the factors a good consumer of polls should know in order to evaluate public opinion data. Public Opinion: Measuring the American Mind is the only text to devote significant space to the history of polling, the use of polling in America today, and to explain the methods used for survey research. 

The campaign manager : running and winning local elections

Successful campaign manager and three-time mayor of Ashland, Oregon, Catherine Shaw presents a clear and concise, must-have handbook for navigating local campaigns. This handbook gives political novices and veterans alike a comprehensive and detailed plan for organizing, funding, publicizing, and winning local political campaigns. Finding the right message and targeting the right voters are clearly explained through specific examples, anecdotes, and illustrations. Shaw also provides in-depth information on assembling campaign teams, precinct analysis, canvassing, and dealing with the media. The Campaign Manager is an encouraging, lucid presentation of how to win elections at the local level. Updates to the fifth edition include an entirely new chapter on social media and its influence on campaigning, new coverage on how to put together a campaign plan, and a new appendix on how to campaign on a budget.

Political Polling in the Digital Age

The 2008 presidential election provided a "perfect storm" for pollsters. A significant portion of the population had exchanged their landlines for cellphones, which made them harder to survey. Additionally, a potential Bradley effect -- in which white voters misrepresent their intentions of voting for or against a black candidate -- skewed predictions, and aggressive voter registration and mobilization campaigns by Barack Obama combined to challenge conventional understandings about how to measure and report public preferences. In the wake of these significant changes, 

Campaigns and Elections American Style

Dramatic changes in political institutions and behavior over the past three decades have underscored the dynamic nature of American politics, confronting political scientists with a new and pressing intellectual agenda. The pioneering work of early postwar scholars, while laying a firm empirical foundation for contemporary scholarship, failed to consider how American politics might change or recognize the forces that would make fundamental change inevitable. In reassessing the static interpretations fostered by these classic studies, political scientists are now examining the underlying dynamics that generate transformational change.

Exit Polls: Surveying the American Electorate 1927-2010

Every two years, exit polls become the most widely analyzed, written about and discussed data-set in the United States. Although exit polls are known for their use in predicting elections, they are in fact the best tool for explaining election results. Exit polls are taken from actual voters, whereas pre-election polls that tally people's intended votes are estimated to overstate the number of people who will actually go to the polls. Exit Polls: Surveying the American Electorate is a groundbreaking new reference work that explores for the first time the trends in longitudinal variables asked in the national Election Day exit polls from their beginning in 1972 to the present. 

People and Their Opinions

Utilizing both a critical thinking approach and a comparative perspective throughout the text, Sobel and Shiraev provide comprehensive coverage of public opinion while also teaching students the basic skills necessary for measurement, understanding, and interpreting. Written in an accessible and engaging manner, this text provides a unique and practical introduction to the field of public opinion. The book begins by "schooling" the reader in how to think critically and then helps students apply those techniques as they encounter the concepts of public opinion. The text also employs a comparative perspective, demonstrating the effect and nature of public opinion in other countries while also placing American public opinion in context.

Election Datasets

Data & Statistics

Published By Congress

Published By the Census & Government Agencies

Compilations By Researchers

  • Election Resources On the Internet 

    Links to Internet sites worldwide that provide complete and detailed national and local election statistics, as well as other election resources.

  • The United States Election Project 

    The United States Elections Project strives to provide timely and accurate election statistics, electoral laws, research reports, and other helpful information regarding the United States electoral system. Disseminate research conducted by Dr. Michael McDonald.

CSU Databases

  • CQ Voting and Elections Collection (CSU Only)

    United States election voting reference works with downloadable election data. Covers the American voter to major and minor political parties, actual races for Congress, the Presidency, and governorships. Election data can be downloaded in csv or tsv and earliest date of coverage varies by office: President (national summary: 1789; county detail: 1920); Senate (national summary: 1908; county detail: 1968); Governor (national summary: 1824; county detail: 1967); House (national summary: 1824; district detail: 1968)

Web Sources

A nonpartisan organization that provides election results data at the federal, state, and local election races. This resource provides historical state electoral voting patterns and results with interactive maps. 

A nonpartisan organization providing data on several points at the federal, state, and local elections. This resource has a robust database of voter turnout data for recent and past elections. Ballotpedia provides extensive information about candidates, state court systems, party information, and much more. 


Presidential, Congressional, and Statewide office elections by precinct, 2002–2012 (some states have earlier data, and most also have 2014 data). It usually includes gubernatorial elections and some other statewide offices as well.

A project at MIT (formerly at Pew Research) tracks how efficient and effective states are in administering elections. Ranks and measures the states on 17 indicators (e.g., voter registration rate, turnout %, voting wait time, provisional ballots rejected, etc.). Data available in .csv and as an interactive report; 2008-2018.

* *From Jeremy Darrington's U.S. Elections: Election and Voter Data Guide. It is an excellent guide to find data sources for a variety of topics related to elections and politics. 

Prediction Markets

Prediction markets are marketplaces for the exchange of predictions on uncertain future events. While stock exchanges find the price of stocks and futures markets find the price of commodities, prediction markets find the probability of some real-world event happening. Traders buy or sell shares based on their predictions of the event happening.

Harvard Dataverse

What is Harvard University's Dataverse?

Harvard Dataverse is a free data repository open to all researchers from any discipline, both inside and outside of the Harvard community, where you can share, archive, cite, access, and explore research data. Each dataverse is a customizable collection of datasets (or a virtual repository) for organizing, managing, and showcasing datasets.


Visit the Harvard Dataverse Site for more information on its datasets.