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Polling Lecture

# Polling Lecture - Polling How do we measure public opinion...

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Polling How do we measure public opinion? Elections Public actions: protests and rallies, letters to newspapers and elected officials Public opinion polling Measuring Public Opinion How can public opinion polls capture public opinion when they only contact 800 to 1,000 respondents? Random Sampling From mathematical probability theory we know that a randomly drawn sample of a population will reflect the distribution of the total population. The key of sampling is that each person has an equal chance of being selected. Example: If we take out 100 M&M candies from a jar that contains 100,000, the distribution of colors in our sample of 100 will be very similar to the distribution of colors in the jar of 100,000. Public Opinion Polling Example:

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Polling firms used computers to randomly create telephone numbers. Polling Accuracy As the sample of a population increases the sample is more likely to reflect the total population. Most national public opinion polls today have sample sizes of 800-1,000 respondents which produces an error probability of around +/- 3.0%. Interpreting Poll Results News media sources will report three important things Sample size Error Point Estimates Example: Source: ARG; 768 Registered Voters, Margin of Error +/- 3% Question: “What if the election for president were being held between George W. Bush, the Republican, and John Kerry, the Democrat? For whom would you vote - Bush or Kerry?” All Bush 46% Kerry 47% Undecided 7%
The point estimates are listed above.

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