How are polls conducted? poll

How are polls conducted?


Table of Contents

Conducting a poll means running a survey through a sample of the population. The one who conducts this poll is called a pollster. Pollsters have a topic in mind and then go on to conduct a poll to get people’s opinions and views on the topic. Later, the results of this poll will be generalized to the entire population. These are also called public opinion polls.

How are polls conducted? poll

Polls are also conducted in the election process. There are various types of polls: opinion, benchmark, bushfire, entrance, exit, deliberative opinion, tracking, and the straw poll; they are used during various phases of the election process. Pollsters conduct these polls in order to attract more voters to their candidates and later to see if their candidate is winning the election or not.

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How are polls conducted?

Polls rely on the most when it comes to politics. It is challenging to take people in confidence and make them know that their vote is going to matter and make a difference. 

In the case of opinion polls, it is vital to select a sample that is representative of the population since the results are going to be generalized. 

Take a look at how to make a poll effectively which will yield the most accurate results:

  • How many to question?

The size of the sample defines how your results are going to be. If selected appropriately, even a smaller sample can give suitable results regarding the opinions and views of the entire population. The aim is to obtain the same results like the ones which would be derived if the pollster had surveyed each and every person in the population. 

Hence, we can say that the size of the sample does not matter as long as its representativeness is enough and fulfilled. The trick to get a perfect sample is to see if all the members of the population have fairly equal chances of getting into the sample group. 

Therefore, the pollster can examine the selected sample until he is satisfied and sure that the members selected are from all the possible demographics and will sum up the entire population. 

  • Setting up a sample

Setting a sample for polling to be conducted have various ways. From those, two highly used methods are:

Controlled sample: As the name suggests, samples in this way of sampling, are controlled so that the sample group includes all the types of people from all the demographics. This is the most commonly used sampling method. 

People from around the country will have different opinions and views on how politics work and the people involved in it. While selecting a sample, make sure you include a representative of all those peoples from different parts of the country, with different occupations, various age groups and lifestyles, etc. 

Example: Students and people with jobs might have different views about politics. They might have different opinions on which candidate would be good for the country and why. So the pollster will have to include a sample of both these two groups in his sample group. 

Area sample: The hint lies in the name. In this way of sampling, only one demographic is focused on, and that is the area of the voters. This is a method of polling that is growing day by day. 

In this, the polling authorities collect information and facts about different parts of the country like developed cities, towns, districts, etc. 

Example: a polling organization will collect facts about big cities, medium-sized cities and small towns in a country. Each of these parts of the country is bifurcated into north, east, west and south. A sample of each of these parts is selected to be included in the poll.

The interviewers are then instructed to interview every third or fourth household in the selected area. This practice is the best way to avoid biases and human errors that generally occur while selecting a sample.

Explore all the survey question types
possible on Voxco

Explore all the survey question types possible on Voxco

  • Framing poll questions

The next step, which goes hand in hand with setting up the right sample, is framing the right questions. Imagine having a perfect sample, but it did no good to the survey because the questions were poorly phrased. The points you need to keep in mind while phrasing your poll questions are:

    • Let the question be neutral. Don’t frame a question that has a hint of the answer which you think is right. This will cause a bias in the result as humans tend to give a response to which the questions is hinted. This will put your result’s credibility at stake and might end up getting unintended or incorrect responses. 
    • Questions should be clear. Assume that people are on the edge when it comes to attending a survey. A little inconvenience can drive them away from taking your survey. If your questions are not clear, well you are one step towards making that happen to your poll. Frame questions with easy and simple to understand words. Avoid using words that can mean various things in the same context. 
    • Frame relatable questions. Include the questions on the issues that the common public can relate to and can answer. Having technical and complicated questions can confuse the respondents. And this will ultimately lead to meaningless answers. 
  • Types of questions to ask

The form of questions depends on what information it is supposed to be giving. 

    • Yes or no questions are most commonly used due to their simplicity and directness. It includes questions like “do you think ABC candidates can improve the education system?” the answer to this can be either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. As you can see, there is not much to interpret here and the results will be simply some percentages of people who agrees and disagrees with the question. 
    • Next is open-ended questions. These questions let the responders express their views freely and in brief. These are generally intended to bring out what the population is thinking and why is it thinking that way. Interpretation of such questions can be challenging as it includes analysing the meaning of what the respondent is trying to say. 
    • Multiple-choice questions. This is a form of a question that has a checklist as the answer option. People are meant to select the option that they think best represents their views about the topic. MCQs can help to bring out how much the respondents have knowledge about the topic and which of the listed opinions they hold regarding the same. 

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  • Trained interviewers 

Modern-day polls are conducted on a personal level. For example, the Gallop poll has 800-1000 employees from all over the country to survey personally.

People who belong to the upper economic class generally prefer surveys through online mail channels. Giving them the benefit of convenience makes it easy for the interviewers to conduct the survey. That being said, it makes it difficult for them to control the sample of the poll since anyone can take the mail polls. 

Interviewers are hence trained not influencing the results through biases or errors. They are also supervised for their performances. These interviewers are more likely to be recommended by political leaders. Their social-political efforts are monitored to examine who is fit for the job. An interviewer’s true performance is determined during the polling analysis based on how well he does his job.

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