StudyGuide - Final Study Guide 1 Public Opinion Polling and...

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Final Study Guide 1. Public Opinion Polling and Elections A. Self-reports vs. Actual Voting Patterns 1) It's one thing to say you'll vote, but it's another thing to actually go out and vote a) 1996 pre-election survey i . 69% “absolutely certain” they would vote in the election ii . Actual turnout in 1996 was about 49% b) Respondents self-reports greatly inflate their likelihood of voting i . Researchers try to screen voters because if all respondents who claimed they would vote were allowed through the screen, the projected election results would be distorted in favor of the party whose supporters are least likely to vote ii . Historically, the poor and the least educated are the least likely to vote, and these people tend to support Democratic candidates iii .Screening is more accurate closer to the election; screening becomes a challenge in the early days of the campaign a . The danger is that shifts in the polls of likely voters are often due not to people changing their mind but rather to change in the composition of who counts as a likely voter 2) Methods of identifying Likely Voters a) Pollsters first ask respondents whether they are registered and then ignore the choices of the unregistered b) Registered respondents are asked a set of questions designed to measure their likelihood of voting c) They then use one of two methods at this stage i . Cutoff method a . Divide registered respondents into those more and less likely to vote (above or below the cutoff value of voting likelihood) and then count the preferences only of the most likely b . For instance, if they anticipate a 60% turnout, they count the preferences of the 60% most likely to vote ii . Probable Electorate method a . The pollster weighs registered respondents by their likelihood of voting b . For instance, the preferences of a voter estimated at 30% likely to vote would be weighted only 0.30 as much as a certain voter d) Which method is better is a matter of debate, but the important point is that the type of screen and its application can have important consequences for a poll result 2. Accuracy of Public Opinion Polls A. Early in the Election Cycle 1) Polls conducted early in campaigns often give a misleading view of what will transpire on Election Day because events change beyond the pollsters' control 2) Similarly, primaries are difficult to poll accurately even in the final week of the campaign, as preferences leading up to primary elections are historically volatile
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(voters focus late, and they choose within their party rather than between parties) B. Late in the Election Cycle 1) General election polls conducted late in the campaign, such as in the final week, show an excellent record of accuracy 2) This is reassuring not just because we might sometimes want to know outcomes in advance; it assures us that opinion polls should also be reasonably accurate as snapshots of public opinion at the moment, even when we lack the feedback of an election to verify C. Exit Polls – a poll of voters taken immediately after they have exited the polling
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This note was uploaded on 04/02/2008 for the course PS 141B taught by Professor Hussey/gussin during the Fall '07 term at UCLA.

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StudyGuide - Final Study Guide 1 Public Opinion Polling and...

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