Nedzi, Lucien N.
September 1971
Public Opinion Quarterly;Fall71, Vol. 35 Issue 3, p336
Academic Journal
The article comments on the need to create a legislation concerning public opinion polls of political processes in the U.S. In May 1968, the author claims he introduced a bill to require certain disclosure of information by public opinion pollsters. The bill would apply to polls relating to elections, political candidates, and political issues which are published in newspapers or magazines of general circulation. That bill attracted over sixty co-sponsors, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican. The public opinion polls are now a major, and growing, factor in U.S. politics. Public officials, the voters, and the media have made them important. And so has the growing expertise of the pollsters themselves. The intelligent citizen who wants to know whether the polls do accurately reveal public opinion is quite helpless in the face of a lack of either verification or background information. To some extent, people understand there is self-regulation. A pollster has an obvious interest in establishing a reputation for accuracy. However, in the absence of background data, no outsider is in a position to evaluate or challenge. Since polls are deemed to measure only the sentiment of a specific period, the fact that election results may show a contrary result can always be met with the explanation that there was a shift in sentiment between poll and election.


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