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Making History:
The Life of Charles H. Backstrom

(1.6 MB; 188 pp.)

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From Warren Motifsky
I remember Charles during the Karl Rolvaag recount following the 1962 Governor's election. Rolvaag eventually won that election by 91 votes. During the court proceedings where they recounted the votes Charles would show up with the latest story about how they decided every last contested ballot. That proceeding went on for months before Rolvaag was given the victory. Charles's book, Recount, was a classic about recounting elections.
     After Minnesota I went to CBS News where I started their election unit. We did the national and 50-state projections. I also did the first exit polls ever while at CBS. I had something to do with the sampling of precincts for the State of Minnesota that Charles used for his election projections. It was easier for me to do as we had computer files of all recent past elections from which to draw the samples. The implementation and analysis were all Charles.
     On the few occasions when I made it back to Minnesota I always stopped to see Charles and Barbara. They were my fondest memory of my days at the University. I never took one of Charles's classes. Nonetheless, I learned a lot about the love of poking around in data from Charles. I also learned a lot about being a fine human being from watching him and the way he went about his research and his other interactions with his fellow teachers. I started to say "peers," but the rest of them were not in Charles's class. He was head and shoulders above them in every way I thought important.



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