Contemporary Public Opinion: Issues and the News

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  2
Wordcount:  474 Words
Date:  2022-03-29

Why were the public opinion polls so wrong in 2016?

The major problem with the survey on public opinion polls in 2016 was selection bias. This problem occurs when the sample is drawn not representing the actual population under study. It leads to errors by underrepresenting or over-representing some opinions. In the survey of 2016 presidential election, selection bias played a part. Although most predictions were in the direction of Hillary Clinton's success, they did not predict the vote margin. In the Electoral College, Clinton lost to trump although she had won the popular vote by a small margin. Polling inaccuracies were caused by the use of uncertain models of voters which assumed the groups of people that voted at very high rates; social desirability bias whereby the respondents did not show that they were Trump supporters; and nonresponse bias whereby fans of Trump were less responsive to surveys(Klasnja et al. Pg161). A combination of these errors led to considerable inaccuracies in foretelling the outcome.

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What would you do to improve public opinion polling techniques?

A political survey must meet some requirements for it to be accurate. First, it must have a suitable method of sampling. Using a simple random sample is one of the ways used in obtaining a representative sample. Through random sampling, every person in the target population has equal chances of being interviewed. Secondly, it should have enough sample size. However it is not possible to question the whole population of USA, a reasonable proportion of the population should be considered when sampling. Thirdly, it must avoid selection bias when making samples. This avoidance reduces overestimation and underestimation during surveys. Studying the three aspects will shape public opinion polling to be more applicable(Klasnja et al, Pg161).

Finally, do you think that constantly seeing public opinion poll results reported in the news is healthy for democracy? Why or why not?

In conclusion, continually seeing results of public opinion poll reported in the general news is not healthy for democracy. The main work of a democratic government is to ascertain that political leaders follow the will of the public. However, government policy does not respond adequately to public opinion to the critical issues. Also, when the desires of the elite people are in danger, officials of the government mostly assume the views of the poor and consider those of the affluent people. Lower-income groups of people are not very likely to express their political views. Due to this reason, their ideas are masked by the opinions of the wealthier people(Klasnja et al. Pg168). Thus, it is not democratically healthy to keep on seeing the public opinion polls results on the news.

Works Cited

McCombs, Maxwell. Contemporary public opinion: Issues and the news. Routledge, 2017.

Klasnja, Marko, et al. "Measuring public opinion with social media data." The Oxford Handbook of Polling and Survey Methods. 2016.

Cite this page

Contemporary Public Opinion: Issues and the News. (2022, Mar 29). Retrieved from

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