Jeffrey D. Alderman, a pioneering polling expert for ABC News and a former editor with the Associated Press, died Nov. 15 in New York 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. He created the first ABC News exit poll in 1980. He also developed “tracking polls” that were sensitive to changes in voters’ views and ABC’s 50-state poll, which could anticipate the outcome in the electoral college.
Alderman also pioneered ABC’s overnight polls to get quick public reaction to major news.
ABC News anchor Peter Jennings credited Alderman with teaching the network’s journalists about the power — and the limitations — of political polling.
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 and then the New York office of the AP. He left in 1970 to do freelance writing and work for the News Election Service, which oversaw the gathering of votes for AP and other national news media. He returned to the AP in ’73 and from 1974-77 was AP enterprise editor.
Survivors include his wife, Joanne, two daughters, his mother and a sister.