Polling and the Public

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1998-02-01
  • Publisher: Cq Pr

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How can a public opinion poll of only 1,500 Americans accurately represent the entire population? Asher demystifies this and other polling issues with clear descriptions, colorful anecdotes and such up-to-date examples as polls concerning doctor-assisted suicide and NATO expansion. He explains how the wording and ordering of the survey questions, and the interviewer's techniques profoundly affect the response the pollster gets. Public opinion polls are pervasive, influencing discourse and decision-making on practically every issue of public life. Yet they are poorly understood and often misused. Asher explores how polls are constructed, conducted, and interpreted-and what role they have in influencing the very attitudes they measure. He discusses the use of polls in campaign politics, media coverage of public opinion, and he guides readers to make their own judgments.

Author Biography

Herbert Asher, professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State University, serves as counselor to the university president

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Polling and the Publicp. 1
The Importance of Pollsp. 2
The Pervasiveness of Pollsp. 3
Commissioned Pollsp. 5
The Citizen as a Consumer of Pollsp. 14
Citizens' Views of Pollsp. 15
Polling and Democracyp. 20
The Problem of Nonattitudesp. 25
An Example of Nonattitudesp. 27
The Use of Screening Questionsp. 28
Nonattitudes and the Middle Position in Survey Questionsp. 35
Response Instability and Nonattitudesp. 38
Conclusionp. 42
Wording and Context of Questionsp. 44
Question Wordingp. 46
Question Order and Contextp. 56
Conclusionp. 61
Sampling Techniquesp. 62
Sampling Designsp. 63
Sample Sizep. 70
Total versus Actual Sample Sizep. 75
Response Ratesp. 76
Weighting the Samplep. 78
Conclusionp. 81
Interviewing and Data Collection Proceduresp. 82
Methods of Collecting Polling Informationp. 83
Interviewer Effects in Public Opinion Pollingp. 87
Internet Pollingp. 92
Conclusionp. 94
The Media and the Pollsp. 95
Standards for Reporting Resultsp. 96
Substantive Interpretation of Pollsp. 103
Media, Polls, and the News Reporting Emphasisp. 109
Conclusionp. 113
Polls and Electionsp. 116
Sponsors of Election Pollsp. 116
Types of Election Pollsp. 117
Uses of Polls by Candidatesp. 132
Polls in the Presidential Selection Processp. 134
When and Why Election Predictions Are Wrongp. 139
How Preelection Polls Affect Votersp. 147
Conclusionp. 149
Analyzing and Interpreting Pollsp. 150
Choosing Items to Analyzep. 151
Examining Trends with Polling Datap. 163
Examining Subsets of Respondentsp. 165
Interpreting Poll Resultsp. 173
When Polls Conflict: A Concluding Examplep. 176
Polling and Democracyp. 179
How to Evaluate Polls: A Summaryp. 180
Polls and Their Effect on the Political Systemp. 183
Conclusionp. 190
Referencesp. 191
Web Sitesp. 206
Indexp. 207
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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