Opinion Polls1

A look inside Opinion Polls: Here’s what you need to know

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What are opinion polls?

Being similar to surveys or inquiries in terms of working, opinion polls are created to collect public opinions over a particular issue or a group of issues in an unbiased way. Earlier, polls were like one-on-one interviews as there used to be a trained interviewer responsible for asking questions to a group of randomly selected people that represent the population.

The inception of online surveys has revitalized the concept of traditional polling methods. In today’s time, polls are mainly conducted with the help of online poll maker software. Moreover, leveraging online polling tools play a key role in choosing a random sample from the population, making sure that the poll results are unbiased.

The concept of ‘public opinion’ is a way of uncovering political, social, as well as economic changes that occur over a time period. It was in the year 1936 when the idea of public opinion polls came into the picture. When it comes to conducting polls, most people believe in the generated results but do not trust the scientific principles behind the polling methods. However, many individuals consider opinion polls to be an ideal way of predicting election outcomes or measuring public preferences on certain social issues.

Conducting opinion polls the right way

Start with setting up a right sample 

There are mainly two ways of setting up a sample that most polling agencies rely on – 

  • Controlled Sample Method 
  • Area Sample Method 

Controlled Sample

In the case of a controlled sample method, the entire sample comes in a controlled way, i.e. by containing a variety of mixed individuals from various walks of life that sum up the whole audience. In order to set a controlled sample, it’s important to answer a few questions on a prior basis. 

For instance, what type of individuals are likely to add value to a public opinion poll? Why every person has a diverse reaction to a particular public question? Why do the rich and poor people have varying views in politics? Why do people living in the western part are not concerned about the issues faced by people living in the northern region?

By considering questions on similar lines, you might feel the importance of including different people from various sections that lead to a national sample. In the case of a controlled sample, an equal number of farmers and city residents are considered as a separate set of individuals having diverse views on a specific topic.

After addressing the sampling issue for years, the polling agencies finally adopted mathematical techniques for setting up samples. While the theory behind it is not a complete solution, choosing & setting up the sample cautiously can minimize the margin of error. Here’s a list of  considerations to pick the right sample: 

Country Section – North, East, South, West

Community Type – Big city, Small city, Town, or village

Standard of living – Wealthy, middle-class, or poor

Gender – Male, female, transgender 

Age – Kids, Youth, middle-aged, or senior citizens

It’s essential for researchers to thoroughly understand their population before they set up a sample to ensure optimum accuracy. This plays a pivotal role in arranging an accurate sample that has the right proportion of people with different genders, economic statuses, age groups, living styles, etc. 

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Area Sample

This method of sampling has become extremely popular among researchers and pollsters over the last few years. In the case of an area sample method, the cross-section sample is arranged not on the basis of the people but a cross-section of the specific area.

Setting up an area sample is considered an easy task. To set an area sample, the required information in terms of geographies like countries, states, towns, cities, or villages can be collected easily through census reports.

In order to cross-section the specific areas in a detailed way, a distinct insight collected from the polling agencies plays a huge role. It makes it easy to distinguish cities into different levels like large, medium, or small and villages according to their income, education, sex ratio, etc.

A usual area sample includes various small areas like townships, small parts of the big cities, certain blocks in the villages, etc. The sample is selected by ensuring that the aggregate of the areas truly showcases a miniature model of the population required to take part in the opinion polls. 

Phrase the questions effectively 

There’s no doubt that setting up the right sample is a crucial aspect of the opinion poll. However, it’s equally important to phrase questions in the right way for achieving accurate results.

Before you start phrasing your question, it’s important to understand that the questions in a poll need to be neutral. Therefore, always avoid ‘leading’ questions that might compromise the authenticity of the complete poll results.

For instance, let’s consider a poll question: “Is the ruling government trying to force its health-related policies on the people?” In this case, different people are likely to have different meanings of the same question due to the word ‘force’. And it will be too complicated to interpret the different answers gathered for this question. So, it’s better to avoid using such questions.

Always make sure that the phrasing of the poll questions is clear and concise so that respondents can effortlessly understand the question and its meaning. There are certain words having different meanings and intent for different people. By including such words in your question can increase the margin of error, thereby causing a discrepancy in the generated results.

Adopt a common practice of testing your poll and the added questions by sending it to a small group of people beforehand. You can ask colleagues to participate in your test poll for collecting the true feedback that could help you improve. Although, sending it to a small group of random people is the ideal way of testing your poll.

Question types to include in your opinion polls

There’s no fixed rule for recommending a particular question type that should be asked in an opinion poll. As the question types depend on the key intent behind a specific opinion poll, here are the most widely used ones: 

Closed questions: The easiest and most common question type for a poll is where respondents are supposed to give answers in either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. These types of questions can be helpful with the issues that are popular in public as they already have a particular opinion about that issue. 

For example, asking this question, ‘Do you think stock markets are a great option for investment?’ There will be answer options like ‘yes’, ‘no,’ & ‘can’t say.’ By giving a third option of ‘can’t say’, you’re making it easy for the respondents to answer this question even if they don’t have any fixed opinion.

Opinion Polls2

Open-ended questions: Popularly known as free questions, this question type is widely used in opinion polls. By using these questions, it becomes easy for the participants to fully express themselves. With open-ended questions, researchers can easily uncover the various perceptions of people related to a specific issue.

For instance, companies usually conduct opinion polls on an internal level for understanding their employees. This enables employees to freely express themselves without any defined limits. 

Opinion Polls3

Multiple choice questions: The multiple-choice questions are an indispensable part of the opinion polls. In this question type, the answer choices are grouped together as a checklist and the individuals are supposed to select either a single or multiple choices.

A multiple-choice question is used in an opinion poll when researchers want to identify how strongly a group of people feel about an ongoing social issue or how informed individuals are about the issues that impact society. 

For instance, “Among the following statements, which one comes closer to your thoughts about the people working on H-1B visa in America?”

  • H-1B visa employees play a crucial role in strengthening the American economy.
  • H-1B visa employees are a burden on the American government as they take all the facilities that are otherwise meant for American citizens.
  • H-1B visa employees are occupying the jobs that other American workers can easily perform.
  • Not Decided
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Explore all the survey question types possible on Voxco

Explore all the survey question types possible on Voxco

Benefits of using public opinion polls

Opinion polls are known to have a wider reach

As we’re living in a digitally-driven world full of technology & gadgets, most people are seen browsing the internet through their computers or mobile phones. In fact, new-age browsers have streamlined the way of answering a poll quickly. The responses of an opinion poll increase exponentially when they are available on various digital screens.

Opinion polls are simple to respond

In today’s time where it has become extremely difficult to reach out to the target audience and gather their valuable feedback, opinion polls can play a great role. As people find opinion polls easy to participate in & less time-consuming, they become a preferred option for uncovering perceptions of individuals around a particular topic.

Opinion polls are a crucial element of democracy

With the use of a public opinion poll, it becomes easy to gather the opinions & thoughts of the citizens. As the citizens can freely express their feelings or highlight their views related to a particular topic, an opinion poll gives them the freedom of expression to share feedback as responsible citizens of the country.

Opinion polls are quick and accurate

On being conducted through the use of online poll software, the effectiveness & precision of an opinion poll increases significantly. By selecting the right sample scientifically, it gets easy to conduct opinion polls. As the complete process of conducting opinion polls is digital and automated, it gathers digital data due to which responses can be tracked in real-time. Also, it minimizes the chances of human errors due to the presence of analytical tools that represent the generated results in graphical format.

By leveraging a best-in-class online poll software like Voxco, you can seamlessly create and conduct free opinion polls. Get ready to effortlessly gather opinions of your targeted respondents anywhere, anytime. 

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