Public opinion has always formed an important part of society especially when the election for the presidency is just around the corner. However, since it is difficult, if not impossible, to extract input from every member of the population, science has created a method called “polling” which takes a sample few to represent the entire population. One of the most important uses of polling is Political Polls.
This type of poll gauges public opinion on subjects related to politics such as elections, legislation, and the like. These days, there have been a number of polls making headlines but are these polls even accurate and impartial? This article will help you in answering that question by providing indicators of accuracy and impartiality. Here is a video outlining how political polling works.
The goal of political polls is to gauge the political opinion of an entire nation by collecting responses from a sample of the population of voters. In order to have accurate results, pollsters must have used a sample that accurately represents population. If 40% of the voters are male, then the sample must also be 40% male. Aside from gender, the population of each state must also be taken into account. The people who are part of the sample must not only come from a single state but must come from all of the states in proportion to the population of each state. This method will ensure that the results are accurate, impartial, and represents the public opinion as close to reality as possible.
In relation to having a representative sample, having a large enough sample size is also important to ensure that poll results are accurate and impartial. Pollsters normally aim for a sample size of 1,000. However, it should be noted that a larger sample size will have a lower margin of error, meaning that it will more accurately represent the population. For example, a poll with a sample size of 5,000 will be more accurate and more representative of public opinion compared to a poll with a sample size of 1,000.
Poll Questions and Answers
The framing of the questions as well as the options for answers are very important in ensuring the accuracy and impartiality of a poll. The questions must be framed in a way that they do not ‘lead’ the person being asked to think that the pollster is biased towards a specific response. Furthermore, the order of the questions is also important as this might influence how the person will respond as the questions are being asked. It has been shown that providing only a few options is discouraged especially when asking questions other than choosing between candidates.
For example, in asking whether a person approves or disapproves of the performance of the president, the poll should provide a degree of answers from ‘strongly approve’, ‘somewhat approve’ to ‘strongly disapprove’ in order to properly measure the degree of approval or disapproval instead of making them choose outright from ‘approve’ and ‘disapprove’.
Are Political Polls Impartial?
These are three basic indicators in assessing whether a political poll is impartial or whether it accurately represents the public opinion. Polls which have a small and unrepresentative sample size will produce impartial results and are unreliable. The next time you see a poll result, be sure to assess the poll with these three indicators for you to find out whether that poll can be relied on!