Robert P. Abelson

Robert Abelson was a Professor at Yale University.

  • Candidates, Issues, and Strategies, Revised Edition

    A Computer Simulation of the 1960 and 1964 Presidential Election

    Ithiel de Sola Pool, Robert P. Abelson, and Samuel Popkin

    A new social research technique, computer simulation, had its political debut during the Presidential campaign of 1960. The simulation, done for the Democratic Party, amounted to a new way of processing public opinion poll data. This book reports the work as it was actually done in 1960 as well as the changes in and refinements of the technique used in the Presidential election of 1964, and evaluates the successes of the simulations in predicting the outcomes of both elections.

    “Because of its novelty,” write the authors, “the Simulmatics project has been the subject of a number of sensationalized newspaper and magazine articles, even a work of fiction, Candidates, Issues, and Strategies endeavors to correct these lurid fantasies. There was no 'people machine'; nor were there superhuman manipulators pulling magic out of computes. Responsible people, not computers, ran the campaign. What was novel was the use of a research technique allowing more intelligent understanding of voter behavior”

    Commenting on this work in Book Week, Eric Larrabee wrote, “The authors pf Candidates, Issues, and Strategies are trying to recapture the good name of polling and prediction from... others who have made off with it and they are... remarkably successful. By removing some of the mystery from computer simulation they hope to restore it to its proper place....”

    While the book is for the political scientist, and for people concerned with computer simulation techniques, a great many readers will be drawn to its pages who are not specialists, but who want a realistic account of this historic use of the computer in the 1960 and 1964 Presidential campaigns.

    • Hardcover $8.95 £6.50
    • Paperback $6.95
  • Candidates, Issues, and Strategies

    A Computer Simulation of the 1960 Presidential Election

    Ithiel de Sola Pool, Robert P. Abelson, and Samuel Popkin

    “A new social research technique, computer simulation, was put to its first political use during the Presidential campaign of 1960. The simulation, done for the Democratic Party, involved a novel technique for processing public opinion poll data. But the simulation, besides being a step forward in the automating of opinion research, was also a field test of some theories of opinion formation.

    “Because of its novelty the Simulmatics project has been the subject of a number of sensationalized newspaper and magazine articles and even of a work of fiction. The present report endeavors to correct these lurid fantasies. There was no 'people machine'; nor were there superhuman manipulators pulling magic out of computers. Responsible people, not computers, ran the campaign. What was novel was the use of a research technique allowing more intelligent understanding of voter behavior.

    “Pre-election polling with scientific sampling was first applied to a Presidential campaign in 1936. By 2960, scientific polling, which George Gallup had pioneered a quarter of a century earlier, had become part of the normal arsenal of every major candidate. It was by that time a conventional operation. Scores of national surveys were conducted every year sponsored by candidates, by the mass media, and by private interest groups. Polls were even being collected in a special library, The Roper Public Opinion Research Center in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where most of the national polling organizations deposit their old IBM cards. Polling had come of age.

    “In 1960 with the aid of the public opinion poll data thus being accumulated, and with the use of computers, a new research technique—simulation—came onto the scene. A description of its first and primitive political use in 2960 is the subject of this monograph. How soon and how fully this new instrument will become assimilated into the normal practice of scientists time alone will tell, but the limited experience of the first experiment already limns broadly a visage of the future.”-from Chapter 1

    • Hardcover $8.95 £6.50