Find three different public opinion polls (from different sources) on the same current political issue (for example, the national debt, Social Security, health care reform, climate change, etc). Discuss the findings of these various polls. Are the results of the three polls similar or different?
The purpose of this written assignment is to demonstrate your understanding of concepts from Module 6. Find three different public opinion polls (from different sources) on the same current political issue (for example, the national debt, Social Security
The purpose of this written assignment is to demonstrate your understanding of concepts from Module 6.
Find three different public opinion polls (from different sources) on the same current political issue (for example, the national debt, Social Security, health care reform, climate change, etc). Discuss the findings of these various polls. Are the results of the three polls similar or different? Why do you think that might be the case? How might the sample, sample size, type of poll, time period in which the poll was conducted, or wording of the questions have affected the results?
Are there any other elements that may have affected the results of the polls? Be sure to include the actual polls (or links to the polls) with your response. You can find links to public opinion polls (as well as various other news sources) at the page below.Your essay should be roughly 2-3 pages in length (double-spaced), 12pt font, 1 inch margins. Please upload your essay in .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf formats.
Opinion polls are similar to surveys or an inquiry designed to gauge public opinion about a specific issue or a series of issues in a scientific and unbiased manner. Previously, polls used to be one-on-one interviews wherein a trained interviewer would ask questions to randomly chosen people representing the population.
With the evolution of online surveys, traditional polling methods became distinct. Now online polls conducted using an online poll maker software rule the polling methods. Furthermore, the online polling tools help in selecting a random sample of everyone in the population, ensuring unbiasedness in the poll results.
The development of ‘public opinion’ as a concept, intimately connects to social, political, and economic changes that occurred over centuries. By 1936, people truly became aware of something called public opinion polls. Not long after that, some people started to think that such polling practices are a threat to democracy. In addition to that, people began to question the legitimacy and method used to conduct polls.
An exciting fact about polls – people believe in poll results, but not many believe in the scientific principles on which polling methods are based.
Conversely, many people believe that opinion polls do a commendable job when it comes to predicting election outcomes or while measuring public outcomes on specific social issues.
Even then, researchers conduct opinion polls, people participate in them and provide us a way to understand how people think and feel about any given topic
On April-14 2019, CBS News conducted a series of public opinion polls to understand how many people think marijuana should be legalized. The result was terrific, a record high of 65% of people expressed their view in favor of marijuana legalization.
The CBS News conducted a series of opinion polls. The poll questions were focused on marijuana and its legalization. In the same polling series, they asked, ‘Do they support for legal marijuana use?’ 65% said yes.
One of the questions they asked in the same series was ‘Compared to most drugs, legal marijuana’s impact on society is…?’ 66% said less dangerous.
The next poll was with a question ‘Legalizing marijuana use is…?’ 52% polled in favor saying ‘good for the local economy.’
Interestingly, CBS News linked their poll with the upcoming presidential election. The last question of the polling series was ‘If presidential candidate supported legal marijuana…?’ But the poll result dismayed many. About 56% of people said it made no difference to their voting choice.
There are different ways to set up a sample. However, the two most commonly used methods perceived by many polling organizations are (1) The controlled sample method and (2) Area sampling method.
In a controlled sample method, the sample is set in a controlled manner, ensuring it contains a variety of people from different walks of life making up for the whole population. Before actually setting a controlled sample, there are a few questions to be answered
For example, what people will bring value to the cross-section of a public opinion poll? Why everyone has a different reaction to public questions? Do poor and rich people have different views on politics? Why are people in the south not much concerned about the pressing issues in the north or west-coast region?
Come up with similar questions, and you will feel the necessity to include people from all sections and all corners to make up a national sample. In a controlled sample, equal farmers and city dwellers are considered as a different set of people having different views on a particular topic.
The polling organizations were addressing the sample setting issue for years. Finally, they came up with mathematical techniques to set up samples. Although, the theory they put forth is not an absolute solution, great care while selecting and setting up the sample reduces the margin of error. Here are a few considerations to choose the right sample
Pollsters or researchers must understand that, before setting up the sample, certain facts about the population must be understood and followed to ensure accuracy and effectiveness. If possible gather population figures from the latest census reports or use trusted external sources to know how effectively you can set up a miniature population sample.
With a proper understanding of the representing population, an accurate sample can easily be arranged consisting of an equal percentage of males and females, different age groups, economic classes, living styles, and communities.
The area sample over the years is becoming more favorable to researchers and pollsters. In an area sample, the cross-section or the miniature sample is set up based on a cross-section of the area and not of people.
Setting up an area sample is relatively easy. In an area sample, the information related to different geographies such as countries, states, cities, villages, or towns can be easily acquired through census reports and other sources.
To cross-section the areas in an elaborate manner, a distinct insight gathered from polling organizations helps a lot. It helps in distinguishing cities into bigger, medium, or smaller and villages based on their per capita income, education, etc. and knowing towns within the borders.
A typical area sample consists of several small areas such as townships, small sections of the big cities, blocks in the villages, etc. The sample is set and chosen by ensuring that the sum of the areas represents an accurate miniature model of the population anticipated to participate in the opinion polls.
Phrasing the questions
Indeed, setting up a sample is an essential ingredient of the opinion poll. Nevertheless, phrasing questions in the right manner to yield excellent results also has equal importance.
Before phrasing the question, you must be aware that a poll question has to be neutral. Hence, avoid ‘loaded’ or ‘leading’ questions which might jeopardize the transparency and authenticity of the entire poll results.
For example, let’s analyze the poll question “Is the government forcing its health-related schemes on the people?”
Well, don’t you think different people will take various meanings of the question only because of the word ‘force’? Do you know it will be complicated as heck to interpret the answers to this question? Now, we will consider another question “Have you ever read a book?” Don’t you think the question itself insults the poll participants? Moreover, the question is too general and will yield vague answers. Avoid such questions.
Ensure the poll questions are phrased clearly and concisely so that respondents or participants do not misunderstand the question and its intent.
For example, during one of the polls conducted during a gulf war, it was found out that the word ‘salvage’ has a different meaning for different people. Some thought it meant ‘paper and tin can drive’ and for some, it said ‘bring the boys back home.’ Thus, using such a word in question phrasing would mean an increase in the margin of error leading to a discrepancy in results.
Focus on picking questions with which the participants could easily connect for answering in an unbiased manner. As far as possible, avoid complicated or technical questions failing to connect with the audience as such questions will again yield meaningless answers.
Make it a common practice to test the poll and question phrase by asking a small group of people to participate in the test poll. Motivate colleagues and friends to participate in the test poll and get their feedback to either move on or iterate the poll further. However, trying it out on a small number of a random sample is the best way to test your poll.
It is hard to recommend a question type or a precise question to ask in an opinion poll. Generally, the type of poll question depends on the motive behind the opinion poll or the kind of information a researcher intends to gather from it.
Closed questions: The most common type of poll question is the one where respondents have to answer in either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ format. Such questions are helpful when the issues concerning polls are out there in public, and they have already formed an opinion regarding that issue.