The Influence of Polls on the Election

The Influence of Polls on the Election

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2008 Election Tracking Poll – Surveys ( between barack obama and Mc. Cain) USA elections

Answer the following questions

1 What impact do polls have on elections today?
2 If you were a pollster and you had to survey 1,500 people in 24-hours, how might you do that in a way that would ensure maximum accuracy in your data?
3 Can too much polling be bad for democracy?

The Influence of Polls on the Election

As Erikson (59) notes, tracking polls are known to influence, the elections from time in memorial and various studies have been carried out to explain why this happens. A common phenomenon is the replication of the opinion polls results in the election. This mainly arises due to people shifting their candidate preference based on the opinion of the majority, commonly referred to as the bandwagon. With the media putting too much emphasis on the polls, the electorates are compelled to conform with the majority’s opinion as they assume that collective minds cannot be wrong and that they must have done some research. An analysis of the 2008 United States elections shows that in the September exit polls Barrack Obama was leading in all the polls. This same result would be reflected in the elections outcome (Wei 186).

A survey may be subjected to a credibility test to ascertain its accuracy. An accurate survey can only be achieved through using a sample of persons who are a true representation of the country’s demography. For instance, 1500 persons may be grouped into the categories of gender, race, age, income, religion, party, political philosophy, and gay/lesbian/bisexual. The 2008 polls incorporated this ideology and thus there was a true representation of the country’s diversity. Furthermore, in the gender category, out of the 1500 persons, 53% should be female and the 47% male (Wei 178).

Many arguments have been presented to demonstrate how excessive polling leads to bad democracy since people vote based on the opinion of the majority. While this may be true, a contrary opinion may be drawn with reference to the Bradley Effect where a popular candidate in the polls of the gubernatorial race lost in the 1982 elections. More notable is the fact that the bandwagon phenomenon provided a platform for Americans to elect an African – American as their 44th president, thus deviating from the racial –favoritism voting tradition.


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