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Roper Center book sheds light on 1996 elections
June 20, 1997

How many people went to the polls in 1996? What motivated them? How influential were the political parties?

These and many other questions are addressed in America at the Polls 1996, a new book edited by Everett Ladd, Regina Dougherty, David Wilber and Lynn Zayachkiwsky at the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, the world's largest archive of survey data.

The book "features all the basic data on what Americans said they were going to do by way of their vote choice and then, ultimately, the results of November 5," said Ladd, director of the center.

The book is the second in a series of books on each national election, beginning with America at the Polls 1994.

"This publication provides a wealth of voting and polling data on the 1996 election," according to the June issue of Campaigns and Elections. "A must-read for anyone interested in the numbers."

Ladd, also a professor of political science, believes there no other publication offers this type of data. "I think there are enough research organizations and publishing houses that are providing commentary on American elections," he said. "I want our book to be seen as fair-minded. It is not arguing a case in partisan terms. That is not the task of this volume. It is a neutral resource of basic information for people who want to examine the American electoral experience, to see where it has gone."

The book looks at the election as it unfolded during the year.

"Instead of just bringing together post-election findings and summaries, we look at how the presidential and congressional races unfolded from the beginning of the campaign on to election day and, in particular, how different social groups of the population responded during these times," he said.

The picture presented in the book, according to Ladd, shows an electorate weakly tied to political parties. "What you see in the data we provide is a realignment that shows no sign of producing a new majority party," he said. "If many people are not tied strongly to one party or the other, there is a greater chance they will vote one way in one contest and another way in the other."

America at the Polls 1996 is available for $29.95. To order, call the Roper Center at 486-4440.