⌛ The Pros And Cons Of Public Opinion Polls
Specific examples can be provided in order to Analysis Of Andrew Jacksons Speech On American Indian Removal the issue resonate with the The Pros And Cons Of Public Opinion Polls. When the convention adopted a strong civil rights platform, Southern delegations bolted and nominated their own candidate, Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. Get Access. Quick polls may generate many responses, but the results can be wildly inaccurate. A representative The Pros And Cons Of Public Opinion Polls of twelve hundred people can accurately reflect the The Pros And Cons Of Public Opinion Polls opinion of the entire population of The Pros And Cons Of Public Opinion Polls United States. They can be easy to some, but The Heroic Characteristics Of Beowulf and difficult for others.
Public Opinion Polls \u0026 American Politics
Didn't find the answer you were looking for? Ask a Question. Ellie Hoe answered. Public opinion gives a random idea of the views about the individuals as a whole. The advantages of public polls are that we can get the overall picture of how much individuals agree or disagree with a certain fact. The overall percentage shows the trend whether the implementation of certain idea would result in favorable outcome or not.
The public opinions from the website make no distinction about the individuals whether they are male or females or belong to which age group. This can serve as disadvantage as we cannot identify the segments who have presented their views. When the convention adopted a strong civil rights platform, Southern delegations bolted and nominated their own candidate, Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. The pair was faced with an unenthusiastic constituency.
In contrast, the Republican Party united behind Thomas E. Dewey, the popular governor of New York. California Governor Earl Warren, future chief justice of the Supreme Court, was the vice presidential candidate. Pollsters and the press anticipated that Dewey would win by a landslide. Dewey by a heavy margin and devote my time and efforts to other things. Normally, incumbents such as President Truman run low-key campaigns, and challengers such as Governor Dewey work hard to win. Dewey campaigned like a front-runner, remaining aloof and dignified while avoiding discussions of controversial issues.
Roles were reversed in the presidential campaign. Traveling in a special Pullman railroad car nicknamed the Ferdinand Magellan, after the explorer who circumnavigated the world, Truman covered 32, miles and gave rousing speeches. At each stop, Truman would introduce his family to the crowd, answer questions, and shake hands. Newsweek polled fifty political journalists a month before the campaign, and all of them stated that Dewey would win.
By Election Day, polls indicated that Truman might pull an upset, but journalists stuck to their story that Dewey would win by a landslide. Reports filtered in throughout Election Night that Truman was leading in the popular vote, but the press continued to report that he could not emerge victorious. Louis, where he was presented with one of the papers bearing the infamous headline. Nonpartisan survey research organizations, such as the Pew Research Center and the Field Poll in California, provide data to news organizations and academics. Commercial pollsters, including Gallup and IBOPE Zogby International , provide polling services to clients and also share their data with the press, scholars, and the public through their websites.
The amount of polling data available today from commercial polling firms, academic survey research organizations, campaign organizations, trade associations, interest groups, media outlets, and online sources is almost overwhelming. There are great variations in the type and quality of polling data. A public opinion survey fielded by a reputable organization using proper social scientific techniques differs greatly from a quick poll An online poll, usually consisting of one or two questions, that is asked of a nonrepresentative, self-selected sample of respondents. Questionnaires used to measure public opinion include a variety of question types. Closed-ended questions Items on a questionnaire that provide respondents with a fixed number of options about a topic from which they can choose the one that best fits their position.
Open-ended questions Items on a questionnaire that allow respondents to reply to a question in their own words. This type of question elicits more information from respondents and can be useful in gaining insight into sensitive topics. The drawbacks of open-ended questions are that people may not want to take the time to answer them and they are more time-consuming for pollsters to analyze. In rare cases, studies have tracked the opinions of the same groups of people over years, even decades. The views of the women who attended Bennington College in the s were tracked through the s.
Duane F. Alwin, Ronald L. Cohen, and Theodore M. A public opinion poll A short questionnaire administered to a sample of people to ascertain the views of a larger population usually conducted by a commercial organization. A poll generally consists of a short questionnaire administered over a brief period of time to a sample of between six hundred and fifteen hundred people.
A survey A questionnaire typically administered by academic or government researchers to a representative sample people drawn from a larger population. Surveys consist of longer questionnaires designed to examine the foundations and consequences of opinions in some detail. Researchers may administer the survey to thousands of subjects interviewed over an extended period of time. Michael W. Traugott and Paul J. New York: Chatham House, Scientific polls and surveys are considered to be the gold standard for measuring public opinion.
They adhere to established procedures that help ensure the accuracy of their results, which includes using proper techniques for drawing a sample and designing questions. Scientific polls and surveys are administered to a sample of people who are representative of a larger population. The sample is drawn using probability sampling, meaning that each person in the population has a chance of being included in the sample. It is possible to get an accurate accounting of public opinion with a relatively small sample.
A representative sample of twelve hundred people can accurately reflect the public opinion of the entire population of the United States. On the other hand, large samples that are not representative may not reflect public opinion accurately at all. Question wording is another important consideration when measuring public opinion. Questions need to be clearly stated, and they should not lead the respondent to choose one answer over another. Answer options that do not provide the public with clear alternatives also are problematic. A Fox News poll taken after the State of the Union Address does not provide clear options for respondents. The answers are double-barreled because people can agree with one part of the answer but not the other.
For option A, you may believe that President Obama gave a wonderful speech but not reconsider at least one item on his agenda. Similarly, for option B, you may agree that President Obama gave a good speech, but you may have changed your mind about his agenda. There are many ways in which polls and surveys can be administered, including through face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, mail questionnaires, and online questionnaires.
Each of these methods has pros and cons. Face-to-face interviews are advantageous for administering long, complicated surveys, yet they are costly and subjects may be reluctant to talk to a stranger about their opinions. Telephone interviews are relatively easy to administer, but getting a representative sample has become more difficult as many polling organizations rely on landline telephone directories to recruit respondents, and people increasingly are relying on cell phones.
Young people are not well represented in landline polls. Mail questionnaires are a low-cost method that allows subjects privacy when answering questions, which can yield more accurate results. However, mail surveys often suffer from low response rate, as people simply opt out because the questionnaire is self-administered. Online polls have become a more popular option in recent years as the majority of the public has access to the Internet. Studies indicate that online polls are no less reliable than other forms of polling.
They have the advantage of being cost-effective, and allowing respondents privacy when answering questions. Online polls also provide opportunities for innovation, such as getting reactions to video clips of campaign ads. The limitation of online polls is that it is more difficult to get a representative sample using the Internet than with some traditional methods, because not all of the public is online. Also, online surveys are self-administered, and people can drop out before they are completed, especially if the questionnaire is lengthy.
Exit polls Face-to-face interviews with voters taken as they leave the voting booth to determine their candidate preference in the election and their positions on issues. They are fielded in a small number of voting precincts with states with the goal of acquiring representative data. They are used to predict the outcomes of elections and to determine the characteristics of voters who supported particular candidates. Exit poll data can reveal, for example, who female, Latino, Republican voters favored in an election campaign. Until , each news network had its own in-house exit polling operation. VNS released the exit poll data that prompted the networks to prematurely declare the results of the presidential election, and the organization subsequently was disbanded.
Exit poll data in the presidential election and midterm elections were provided to major television news organizations and the Associated Press by the National Election Exit Polls conducted by Edison Research. News organizations use exit polls to declare a winner, sometimes when few of the actual returns from the voting precincts have been recorded. This practice has raised concerns, especially since the major television networks all rely on exit poll data from the same source—the National Election Exit Poll.
While exit polls are often accurate, if the sample of voters is unrepresentative of the population, the survey questions are poorly written, or interviewers are not trained to properly administer the poll, the results can be wrong, as was the case in the presidential election. Some scholars allege that media reports of exit polls can depress election turnout. When the media declare the winner in a presidential election on the basis of exit polls before the voting booths have closed across the country, people who have not yet voted may decide not turn out.
Network television newscasts declared Ronald Reagan the winner of the presidential election on the basis of exit polls hours before the voting booths had closed on the West Coast. A controversy ensued around the allegation that West Coast voters were discouraged from casting a ballot because they felt their vote was irrelevant. The networks agreed voluntarily to refrain from declaring a winner in elections until after all the polls have closed nationwide—an agreement that has not always been followed.
A quick poll usually consists of one or two questions that are posted to a website, blog, discussion board, social media platform, or podcast. Quick polls have become standard features of websites of news organizations, political leaders, issue advocacy groups, political parties, candidates, bloggers, and even average citizens. They can be distributed through website sidebars, e-mail links, Facebook postings, and Twitter feeds. There are many platforms available that make it easy for just about anyone to field a quick poll.
Quick polls also can be administered through robo-polling Administering automated polls by phone using a recorded voice to ask the question and requiring respondents to answer by pressing the touch pad on their telephone. Quick polls do not conform to the established protocols for conducting scientific polls, and they generally are not reliable indicators of public opinion. They often use an unscientific convenience sample Respondents to unscientific polls who are self-selected. Most respondents to quick polls are self-selected, and they may have a strong interest in the topic. Often it is possible for people to register their views more than once, which can bias the outcome of the poll.
Quick polls may generate many responses, but the results can be wildly inaccurate. In addition, quick poll questions can be designed in a way that elicits a particular response that is then used to promote a particular position. Do you favor or oppose designating bike lanes in your city? Quick polls can be a fun way to generate interest in political affairs. People can express their views easily, and they often get immediate feedback about where they stand compared to others.
The results of quick polls often are revealed in visually appealing graphics. Reporters and bloggers use the results of quick polls to generate story lines and supplement the text of their pieces. However, quick polls can be misused when the results are interpreted as if they truly reflect public opinion rather than the views of the people who chose to take them. Quick polls provide snapshots of political opinion that are used by the media, interest groups, parties, and candidates. Despite their name, push polls are not legitimate public opinion polls. They are a form of advertising masquerading in the form of an opinion survey. No one collects or analyzes data from a push poll. However, push polls can influence vote choice in campaigns by incorporating negative attacks on a candidate into the questions asked or associating a candidate with a particular issue position which may or may not be accurate.
Push polls were used against Republican candidate John McCain during the presidential primary. Voters in Ohio received phone calls from Opinion Access Corporation asking if they would be more or less likely to vote for Barack Obama if they knew that he had voted to let convicted child sex offenders out early. While these allegations were untrue or taken out of context, the information was spread to voters. Push polls have been outlawed in certain states and they have been condemned by the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers AAPOR , the organization that upholds standards for polling and survey research. There are a variety of ways of measuring public opinion aside from polls. The different sides of an argument expressed in public debates or at a community meeting reflect public opinion.
The positions taken in letters to the editor, blog and social media posts, and the comments in response to news stories and editorials are all indicators of public sentiment. The commentary that people post in response to news stories can provide a rich source of information about public opinion, especially when people take the issue seriously and are respectful when expressing their views. This commentary also can be careless and vitriolic, as people resort to personal attacks or post quick reactions to complex issues. Focus groups Facilitators convene a small group of subjects to engage in a structured discussion about a topic.
A facilitator asks questions of a group of between eight and twelve people who can engage in a conversation about the topic. Focus groups not only are useful for gaining in-depth insights into what individuals think but also aid in understanding the group dynamics behind public opinion. Focus groups can reveal when people feel comfortable expressing their beliefs, when they will confront others about their views, when they will withdraw from a discussion, and when they are influenced by the opinions of others.
David W. Stewart, Prem N. Shamdasani, and Dennis W. Rook, Focus Groups: Theory and Practice , 2nd ed. Focus groups have been used to allow college students to reveal their views about government and their role in a democratic polity. Talking with students in a group setting, researchers discovered that young people are more interested and engaged in politics than survey-based studies indicate, and that they are thinking creatively about ways to become involved, especially using social media.
Nicholas V. Longo and Ross P. Focus groups are used extensively in election campaigns to determine what voters are thinking about and which candidates they prefer. Online news stories provide comment sections where people can discuss issues and events. These comments are an expression of public opinion. Public opinion polling dates back to the early days of the republic. In this environment, it is important to differentiate between quality polling data generated through established scientific methods and unreliable information produced by quick polls.
The press depends on polls as a source of information for its stories, and polling organizations need the media to publicize their results. For almost two centuries, the press has commissioned polls from professional organizations or sponsored their own in-house polling operations. Today, major news organizations join with well-established polling firms to measure public opinion. Digital polls Polls administered through Internet platforms and smartphones that run the gamut from sophisticated surveys to quick polls.
These polls can be taken online, on an electronic tablet, or on a cell phone. The potential for polls to not only measure public opinion but also influence opinion has increased. The results of public opinion polls are prominently depicted in all forms of media. News organizations regularly include poll results in their stories about political issues, events, and leaders. Poll results released by the press, candidate organizations, and political parties feature prominently during elections in news stories, commentary, and campaign media.
Political websites and blogs offer quick polls where people can record their views on myriad topics instantaneously. Poll results frequently run on the ticker on cable television news broadcasts and on media organization websites. Poll results make headlines. They can be presented in the form of eye-catching visuals to highlight their prominence. The story discussed the results of a Washington Post -ABC News poll that indicated that most Americans want to keep government benefits, such as Medicare and Social Security, and would oppose plans to cut these programs to reduce the national debt.
Almost three thousand people weighed in with their thoughts about this poll story within just a few hours of its posting. These comments represent another expression of public opinion. The poll story became the most popular piece on the Washington Post website for the day, and thousands of people recommended it to their friends on Facebook. Pundits and experts who appear in the media make extensive use of poll results when making their case. They appear with charts and graphs depicting poll results to emphasize that the public shares their views. They use opinion polls to speak on behalf of the public, whether or not they are truly representing the views of the people. Elites and the mass public use public opinion polls in a variety of ways.
Opinion leaders use poll results to convey information to others who rely on their guidance when making political decisions. Digital media have not only created more opportunities for the public to share their opinions but have also made it possible for average citizens to field their own polls and collect opinion data. An opinion leader A broker who imparts information about politics and government to other people. Opinion leaders are attentive to media messages and pass on information in a simplified format to people who pay less attention to politics.
The two-step flow model A communication model where the media disseminate information that is processed by opinion leaders, who simplify messages and pass them on to opinion followers. Opinion leaders have the respect of opinion followers because of their status in a social group, their role as a political expert, or their celebrity. Paul F. Lazarsfeld, Bernard R. Source: Adapted from E. Katz and P. Celebrities can use their prominence in the media to promote causes and influence public opinion. Opinion leaders may be members of the public who are especially attentive to political matters. People who are in the same social group will seek cues from opinion leaders who share their interests and who can simplify their voting decisions or provide them with shortcuts for taking positions on complicated issues.
Pundits, political experts, and public officials can be opinion leaders when they are held in esteem by citizens. Media personalities, including television news anchors, talk show hosts, and prominent political bloggers, increasingly have taken on the role of opinion leaders, especially when they have ideological views similar to people who follow them.
Ronald S. Celebrities from the entertainment industry can become opinion leaders. Actor George Clooney has used his celebrity to bring attention to violence in the Sudan. The opportunities for the public to express their opinions through the media have skyrocketed in the information age. The interactive features of digital media make it easy for people to express their views and share their opinions with others. Quick polls can be incorporated into just about any news or political site, and they can be shared virally through social media and e-mail. Online forums allow people to post their views and react to the opinions of others. Digital polls, which use Internet platforms and smartphones to administer questions to members of the public, have proliferated in the information age.
These polls run the gamut from sophisticated survey instruments to one-question quick polls. Online polls are a standard feature of news websites, political party and candidate sites, interest group and trade association sites, blogs, social media sites, and Twitter feeds. The quality of online polls varies greatly as well. Online polls administered by reputable organizations to a representative sample of the public yield reliable results.
Quick polls taken by a convenience sample of people who come across the poll and decide to take it are generally inaccurate. Digital media have made it possible for members of the public to conduct their own informal polls to solicit opinions about government and politics. There are online platforms, such as YouPolls. These informal poll results can be used to stimulate online discussions about issues, leaders, government institutions, and political events. Some of these citizen-initiated polls deal with serious debates facing the nation, such as taxes and immigration policy.
Some opinion forums are designed more to entertain than to elicit serious opinions. Comedian Stephen Colbert hosts the Colbert Nation Forum on his website, where fans post often humorous statements and videos about current issues and events. The results of live polls are displayed below images of the event as it takes place, which allows viewers to see fluctuations in opinion over time. The public was invited to participate in a nationwide poll gathering reactions to the address using their smartphones and iPads.
Reactions from Democrats, Republicans, and independents were tracked and displayed on the bottom portion of the television screen on cable news channels. While the sample was not representative, hundreds of thousands of people took part. A major issue confronting opinion researchers is whether or not polls released in the media actually influence opinion. It may be the case that polls not only reflect opinion but also can change people views about candidates and issues.
Public judgment, informed opinions about issues, requires that people be open to diverse viewpoints and consider the outcomes when supporting policy positions. Some scholars believe that a democracy requires media that provide a place where citizens can gain a broad perspective on political issues and events. However, in the current high-choice media environment that offers literally hundreds of options for getting information, people increasingly are exposed solely to viewpoints consistent with their own beliefs.
The media landscape is populated by cable news programs, talk radio shows, online news sites, and blogs that represent extreme liberal and extreme conservative positions on issues. Many people who tune into these opinionated sources of information shield themselves from other perspectives, thus cutting off the potential to meaningfully debate policy options. Communication scholars Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Joseph Cappella label this phenomenon the echo chamber The idea that people pay attention to media that conforms to their ideological views to the exclusion of media that offer alternative perspectives.
With more than three hundred cable channels alone to choose from, people gravitate toward niche media that often feature like-minded hosts. Blog readers visit sites that are in line with their views and avoid those that challenge their opinions. Scholars have identified negative and positive consequences of the echo chamber effect. On one hand, selective exposure to ideological media may have deleterious effects on democratic discourse as people take extreme positions on issues and refuse to make compromises that are often necessary to achieve workable public policies.
At the same time, people who come to feel strongly about their political beliefs are more likely to participate in politics. The relationship between the media and public opinion has grown increasingly complicated. Poll results and opinion forums have proliferated in all forms of media. The vast number of political media sources has made it possible for people to expose themselves only to news and information that conforms to their personal ideological and partisan perspectives.
The implications for democratic politics are both negative and positive. In the information age, a wealth of material about issues, as well as the stands Americans take on these issues, is available from the media, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Accessing and sorting through the often complicated and conflicting material on issues can be a daunting task, especially when not all available information is reliable or of high quality.
Only a small segment of the population has the motivation or the opportunity to become informed about most issues, especially when the costs in terms of time and effort are high. As a result, there is a knowledge gap among the public about issues. Highly educated people from upper-income brackets have a greater command of issues and thus more influence on policies that effect society than people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
Creative civic education initiatives can help alleviate the knowledge gap on issues and assist people in developing informed opinions. Deliberative forums can help young people develop informed views on issues and even take action. Knowledgeable opinion leaders and subject-area experts can meet with people in classes, clubs and organizations, private homes, or online to share information about issues. Forums have been held across the country on the topic of climate change, which is a highly contested issue with much conflicting evidence. Experts provide information followed by discussions that are facilitated by citizen participants.
Effective forums have a clear focus, such as the effect of climate change on the local area. Specific examples can be provided in order to make the issue resonate with the participants. Communities of people who are interested in climate change can form offline and continue to interact online through discussion boards and social media. Matthew C. Althaus, Scott L. Collective Preferences in Democratic Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press, A study examining the ways in which public opinion surveys influence democratic deliberation in ways that favor particular groups in society.
Asher, Herbert B. A valuable guidebook providing insight into how polls are designed and reported. Bennett, W. Lance, and David L. Paletz, eds. Foreign Policy in the Gulf War. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, A comprehensive study of public opinion, media, and foreign policy focusing on the Gulf War period. Brooker, Russell, and Todd Schaefer. Public Opinion in the 21st Century. New York: Wadsworth, An introductory text examining the ways in which Americans make their opinions known to political leaders. Donsbach, Wolfgang, and Michael W. A handbook covering topics in public opinion ranging from the development of public opinion research, methods for ascertaining opinion, and uses of public opinion data. Erikson, Robert S. A text covering key topics in public opinion, including the history of polling, methodological issues, and the role of public opinion in a democracy.
Glynn, Carroll J. Shapiro, Public Opinion. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, A comprehensive overview of public opinion in scholarship and practice. Goidel, Kirby, ed. Political Polling in the Digital Age. A collection of essays about the challenges of public opinion polling in the new media era. Herbst, Susan, Numbered Voices. An insightful study of the development of consequences of public opinion polling that questions the extent to which polls truly represent the voices of the mass public.
Lippmann, Walter, Public Opinion. New York: Free Press, A classic work that explores the relationship between the press and public opinion, arguing that the media make events known to the public that they cannot directly experience, thereby influencing opinion. Stroud, Natalie Jomini, Niche News. New York: Oxford University Press, Warren, Kenneth F. New York: Cambridge, A study examining the ways in which the public acquires information from elites and the mass media and translates it into opinions.
Ask a Silly Question A respected Canadian journalist employs humor to raise important issues about the power of public opinion polls to shape policy. A lively documentary consisting entirely of government materials that were used to influence public opinion about the atomic bomb during the Cold War. Constructing Public Opinion A scholarly and engaging examination of the ways in which politicians and the media use polling data to construct public opinion. Originally titled Public Opinion , this Academy Award winner stars Gregory Peck as a reporter who pretends to be Jewish to uncover opinions about racial and religious prejudice. Magic Town When the small Midwestern town of Grandview is found to replicate Gallup poll results for the entire nation, a pollster Jimmy Stewart uses the town to gauge public opinion, causing its citizens to change their behavior while shouldering this great responsibility.
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