Investigating Political Polling. Essay Example

Published: 2024-01-14
Investigating Political Polling. Essay Example
Essay type:  Cause and effect essays
Categories:  Politics Political science Statistics
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1036 words
9 min read

Political polling is regarded as the process of using survey instruments to record citizen’s attitudes, opinions, and personal data (Carlson, 2018). A process is an important tool effective in campaigns that are often used by politicians to devise their strategic plans. The instruments used for election polls are designed to collect qualitative data by asking open-ended questions of voters and recording the answers (Carlson, 2018). In modern politics, polls involve survey research conducted through random sampling of voters to produce an image of public opinion while still accounting for an error in the margin. Since the early nineteenth century, political polling has been a popular tool during election campaigns (Carlson, 2018). During that era, polling was done informally in the form of a straw poll. In 1916, the first nationwide polling using a representative sample was witnessed, after which the process evolved to incorporate technological innovations such as the Internet and media outlets (Carlson, 2018). Currently, various organizations conduct nationwide polls depending on their strategic plans which are often based on political influence (Carlson, 2018). The paper focuses on investigating various aspects of political polls.

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Various types of polls are conducted in stages during political campaigns. Stages are determined in terms of sequence, which involves ways in which they are expected to inform the campaign strategy and how they are conducted (Carlson, 2018). These types include brushfire, benchmark, and tracking polls (MAEDA, 2013). Each of the polls listed above is conducted via accessing contact numbers of voters, which are often rented from greater political organizations. All of the three stages are used in all types of campaigns regardless of the size of the election campaign in question. Benchmark polls are the first to be conducted, which is often at the beginning of campaigns (MAEDA, 2013). The main aim for conducting benchmark polls is to lay baselines on the levels of voters’ knowledge, perceptions, and opinions of a particular candidate (MAEDA, 2013). Benchmarks polls usually consist of short survey questions that help portray an image of the current political landscape. This aspect helps in plotting initial campaign strategies and identify the baseline of public support of a particular aspirant or party (MAEDA, 2013).

The second stage involves brushfire polls, which are conducted to test the sentiment of the voters during a political race. The main aim of these polls is to check favorable and unfavorable ratings that enhance the evaluation of candidates’ popularity (MAEDA, 2013). Measuring support on important matters and crafting of messages like political advertising is at this particular stage (MAEDA, 2013). Campaigns will use these polls to acquire public opinions on greater issues like economic issues or foreign policies. The third stage utilizes tracking polls, which are regular and the run-up to the day of the election. These polls mostly rely on consistent inquiry that helps keep track of whether a candidate is gaining or losing popular support (MAEDA, 2013). The last stage of the polls is the exit polls, which are conducted at a polling station on the day of the election. They are used to predict the results after the campaign workers poll voters as they leave their voting stations (Toff, 2018).

It is essential that all political campaigners conduct polling. For an effective poll, there is a need for involved parties to make decisive plans based on the specificity of their agenda. When designing one’s opinion poll, it is crucial to understand the issue you are tracking (Toff, 2018). The next step is to determine the population as the target for the polling. There are different criteria considered during polls that differ in regard to population and specificity. For example, one can track presidential preference among democrats while another one can track a candidate amongst Black-Americans in Las Vegas over the age of fifty. The next step is to select a sample size to get a scale (Toff, 2018). When conducting polls, it is impossible and expensive to reach every individual in the target population. To curb this, it is essential to use a small random selection with similar demographic percentages to the population of the target (Toff, 2018). The next step involves determining the polling method effective for acquiring the most accurate data and its cost-effectiveness. Phones are the most cost-effective, reliable, and accurate, according to a suggestion from political science specialists (Toff, 2018). It is essential to choose a method that fits the budget and the intended level of accuracy (Toff, 2018).

One limitation associated with political polls is the high potential for making errors (Whiteley, 2016). Common errors during polling include margin errors, which is believed to be an unavoidable part of a scientific poll. For instance, a survey data based on a sample of 1000 people can have a margin error of plus or minus three percentage points of the original poll (Whiteley, 2016). It is therefore important to account for the margin of error interpretation and implementation of survey data. Another error often involved with political polls is nonresponse bias, which happens when poll respondents give answers that do not reflect their actual opinions (Toff, 2018). The other type of error is wording issues, which involve careless word questioning (Whiteley, 2016). Pollsters should ask questions in a way that the respondent will answer the questions freely without the fear of being expected to answer in a certain way (Toff, 2018).

In conclusion, political campaign polling is an essential part of elections both historically and in the modern-day. Results of these polls can help candidates implement and improve their campaigning strategies. In addition, these polls can be used to identify issues that need to be resolved by responsible parties or aspirants to enhance their chances of competing. The aspect can also help voters present their grievances that need political involvement to resolve.


Carlson, E. (2018). The perils of pre-election polling: Election cycles and the exacerbation of measurement error in illiberal regimes. Research & Politics, 5(2), 205316801877472.

MAEDA, Y. (2013). Public Opinion Polling and Political Process. The Annuals of Japanese Political Science Association, 64(1), 1_215-1_235.

Toff, B. (2018). Rethinking the Debate Over Recent Polling Failures. Political Communication, 35(2), 327–332.

Whiteley, P. (2016). Why Did the Polls Get It Wrong in the 2015 General Election? Evaluating the Inquiry into Pre-Election Polls. The Political Quarterly, 87(3), 437–442.‌

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