Public Opinion Polling

Archive Report

Concern About Polls in Election Year

Confusion Over Voter Preference for President

Public opinion polls are often referred to as the country's fifth estate. Some persons charge that polls have come to exert undue influence over the other four by relaying to the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and the news media what “the people” think and want. It is hardly surprising that the pollsters, like all powerful groups, are being subjected to scrutiny and criticism. And it is even less surprising that polls are receiving particular attention as the 1976 election approaches.

Pre-election surveys represent only a small fraction of all polling. Less publicized but far more extensive and profitable is the research conducted for business, government, foundations. pressure groups and even churches.1 But ...

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