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Some opinion polls are also hidden ways of promotion a policy point. I remember several mails that presented themselves as polls but were in fact trying to get you to question a particular political candidate or issue in favour of another.

People love polls. Think about all the magazines with reader polls. Many pool don't tell you anything more then the opinions of the 10 people who took the poll and as your story illustrates sometimes they don't even tell you that much.

As for the reliability of the poll results that's another question. Leading questions or answer options are one issue but how the poll is conducted, who the respondents are, what the sampling frame is (i.e. how representative is the group you are interviewing compared to the population you are making statements about)are all questions to ask to assess the relevance of any poll results.

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Sat Jan 28th, 2006 at 11:33:15 AM EST
Another promotional use of polls involves leading questions. By producing an artificially high/low number in support of a particular policy you can push the media to:

(a) reopen a debate


(b) start building rationalisations for why people feel so strongly about the issue and why other polls didn't show this before.

Now, this approach isn't always successful, but especially as part of a broader campaign it's a good way of poisoning debate.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Jan 28th, 2006 at 01:47:36 PM EST
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