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What Is The Science Behind Polls?

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Channel: Seeker
Categories: Government & Politics   |   Society / Culture   |   Social Science  
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Why shouldn't we always trust polls? Trace tackles this question here.

Are We The Only Species That Votes? -
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The National Council on Public Polls (NCPP) -

When You Hear the Margin of Error is Plus or Minus 3 Percent, Think 7 Instead
"Let's start with the stated margin of error, which captures sampling variation: error that occurs because surveys are based on only a subset of the full population of likely voters. Even if this sample of respondents is selected randomly from the full population, it is not a perfect representation of attitudes in the full population. That's where the usual 3 percent error rate comes from."

How Political Polling Works
"Polls, as we mentioned, are a snapshot of the respondent's opinion in the moment the question is asked. Although many voters have a firm and long-formed opinion on politics and political candidates, other voter's views are constantly evolving -- sometimes from moment to moment. A respondent to a political poll might begin the poll with a slight lean toward Candidate A. But after a series of questions about Candidate A's views on the economy, foreign policy and social issues, the respondent might realize that he actually agrees more with Candidate B."

Why You Shouldn't Trust 'Polls' Conducted Online
"Professional pollsters use scientific statistical methods to make sure that their small random samples are demographically appropriate to indicate how larger groups of people think. Online polls do nothing of the sort, and are not random, allowing anyone who finds the poll to vote. They are thus open to manipulation from those who would want to stuff the ballot box."


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Written By: Julian Huguet

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