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ABC Polling Expert Dead at Age 56

November 16, 1999

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Jeffrey D. Alderman, a pioneering polling expert for ABC News and a former editor with The Associated Press, died Monday after battling cancer. He was 56.

Alderman was director of polling for ABC until June. He worked at the network for more than 20 years on polls that measured both political races and social trends.

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He created the first ABC News election exit poll in 1980. He also developed ``tracking polls″ that were sensitive to changes in voters’ views and ABC’s 50-state poll that could anticipate the outcome in the electoral college.

Alderman also pioneered ABC’s overnight polls to get quick public reaction to major news. The technique was first used to measure views on the verdict in the John Hinckley trial in 1982 and it has since become a staple of news polling.

Peter Jennings, ABC News anchor, credited Alderman with teaching the network’s journalists about the power _ and the limitations _ of political polling. ``Jeff was something of a pioneer around here in educating us to the value of exit polls,″ Jennings said.

From 1974 to 1977, Alderman was the enterprise editor of the AP, a job in which he assigned and edited feature stories for use on the news cooperative’s main national wire.

``Jeff was a terrific editor,″ said Jonathan Wolman, AP’s managing editor. ``Good with facts, good with words and good with people. I was stunned to discover when he went to ABC that he was good with numbers too.″

Alderman was born in Holyoke, Mass., and began in journalism as a college student, working summers for the Holyoke Transcript-Telegram and later in the Boston bureau of the AP.

Alderman went to work for the AP in 1968 in New York on the general desk, which edits stories for national distribution. He left in 1970 to do free-lance writing and work for the News Election Service, which oversaw the gathering of votes for AP and other national news media.

Alderman returned to the AP in 1973 and in March of that year was named energy editor, overseeing coverage of the worldwide crisis during the Middle East oil embargo.

Survivors include his wife, Joanne, and two daughters, Liz and Merry; his mother, Eleanor Alderman, and a sister, Wendy Cohen.

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