Opinion Polls Essay
A poll is a sample of opinions that you take from a random group of people for analysis. Polls are a scientific and non-biased method to gather views by solving a series of questions and deriving the conclusion by extrapolating generalities. The polls definition states that the scientific method by which you conduct an unbiased survey on a random sample of people to derive an idea of these people's opinions, attitudes, and individual information.
The history of the word "poll" owes its origin to the meaning "scalp" or "head". During elections, the electoral representatives used to count heads in an open area known as the "polls".
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What Are Opinion Polls?
In any democracy, the people have the right to express their opinions about the country's leadership. Therefore, experts conduct a poll or survey called the public opinion poll on a representative group of people that help them figure out their views.
Public Opinion Poll Definition
According to Dictionary.com, the definition of a public opinion poll states that it is "a poll taken by sampling a cross-section of the public in an effort to predict election results or to estimate the public attitudes on issues."
There are trained interviewers who ask questions to the sample of people. Experts analyze these answers and come to a consensus about the interpretations. In any random sampling, the people must have an equal participating chance. Otherwise, the result might be biased.
Public Opinion Polls Examples
While it might seem that predicting election results can be a hit and miss, conducting proper opinion polls can give you a pretty good idea of the outcome. For example,
- In 1916, the Literary Digest conducted a national survey and correctly predicted the election of Woodrow Wilson as president. Similarly, by counting the survey postcards returned by the people, the Digest also managed to predict the victories of Warren Harding in 1920, Calvin Coolidge in 1924, Herbert Hoover in 1929, and Franklin Roosevelt in 1932.
Public opinion polls are also conducted to gather the general opinion of the people for a particular topic. For example,
- In January 2020, Zogby Analytics conducted an online survey on behalf of Research! America to gather people's opinions about the importance of investing in research for job creation and economic growth. Almost 50% of people believed investing in research is very important for developing these two areas.
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Political Polling Definition
Political polling is how you survey a random sample of the population to determine the public opinion and thoughts on certain political parties.
You can trace the history of political polling to the nineteenth century when people used to take the help of straw polls to record individual votes. Until people developed the more complicated public opinion polls, straw polls were quite popular.
What Does Exit Poll Mean?
In the system of political polling, exit polls are the last step. Like any other poll, an exit poll is a survey that interviewers conduct as the voters leave the balloting locations to estimate the election's outcome. Any standard exit poll questionnaire consists of three major points:
- Which candidate received the respondent's vote?
- Factors that helped the voter make their decision
- The demographic details of the respondent
This information helps experts determine what kind of people voted for the different candidates, their preferences, and the reason behind their voting.
Exit Poll Definition
The exit poll definition states that it is a kind of poll taken as voters leave their balloting locations to collect data about voters and the factors behind why they voted as they did.
Several agencies conduct exit polls all over the world. For example,
- In the USA, the National Election Pool (NEP), consisting of various broadcasting channels like FOX News, CBS, CNN, NBC, and others, conducts exit polls.
- In South Korea, the channels KBS, SBS, and MBC conduct these polls.
- In India, news and broadcasting channels like The Times Group and India Today, among various others, conduct these polls.
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How Is Voter Behaviour Affected By Opinion Polls?
Over the years, experts have conducted in-depth research into figuring out if opinion polls affect voter behaviour. The results show that there are quite a few ways voters' opinions become influenced by the polls.
Affecting strategic considerations
Many people give strategic votes to influence the outcome of an election. These votes are not based on preference. In such cases, people vote to support a party that seems to be winning instead of helping the preferred one. However, polls can affect these strategic considerations, which are based on expectations about the election results. If people feel that one party does not have good chance to win, they won't vote for that candidate anymore.
When people see that a particular party has more chances of winning based on polls, their opinion becomes more favourable. Moreover, these people evaluate the parties with low chances of winning negatively.
Inciting boomerang effect in politics
Opinion polls can also show a boomerang effect on the voters who support the candidate most likely to win. These people believe that their votes are not needed as it is already assured that their candidate will win. Therefore, they decide to vote for someone else.
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Why Are Polls Important?
Opinion polls are instrumental in helping people from different cultures understand each other as it gives everyone a chance to voice their opinion. Therefore, it provides the minorities and people whose voices do not get highlighted an opportunity to speak out. Polls are vital for the democracy of any country with people of all races, genders, religions to live harmoniously.
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