Friday, August 20, 2010

Polls and Politics

Public opinion polling has evolved through time and has adopted different methods from data collections to the presentation of results. They have evolved so fast to level that the politicians are threatened that the traditional rule of judgment and decision making have been shifted from the government and is at the discretion of pollsters and public.  Results from the pollsters are keenly followed by the members of the public especially the presidential opinion polls that have a remarkable impact on the elections besides gauging the public opinion.  In no surprise that pollster opinion polls have had a significant impact on politics in Washington. In these question and answer essay, an analysis is presented from different pollster polls and how they portray the public view of different issues.

Why is a random representative sample (called a probability sample) important for getting accurate poll results?

A probability sampling method utilizes random selection which means all members in the population have an equal enhance of being selected.

 This reduces the researcher bias in sampling.  In carrying out a probability sampling, the researchers are therefore in position to make inference on the whole population because each member has an equal probability of being chosen. Random selection eliminates the probability of disproportionate number of respondents from a given group. The sampling variance in this case is more or less like that of the whole population which enhances the accuracy of the outcomes.  This sample gives the opportunity for an impersonal choice to take place rather than the researcher.

The accuracy the sample is further enhanced by its size.

 A high sample size enhances the accuracy of the sample statistic which will be as good as the parameter.  The accuracy of a random representative sample is not greatly influenced by the population size (William, 2006)
Q1. Does the question posed by the pollster meet the standards for a good question? Why or why not?

The question posed by the pollster meets the standard of good question because they are objective rather than subjective.  They don't have the subjective forms like 'you' but are stated in the objective forms of for instance, 'should'.  There this eliminates the researcher bias in influencing the outcome of the questions (Gallup, 2007) (Holt, 2009)

Q2. What are the facts collected and presented by the poll?

The facts collected and presented by the poll range from the country's direction, the anticipated bill to bail out the economy with its expected impact includes the Federal government support for ailing homeowners, economy's condition, public perception of the government and political parties including Bush's approval rating and trust in the government (Holt, 2009)

Q3. Which response was given by the largest number of the respondents to the poll?

Nine in every ten American believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction. A whooping 93% believe that the congress is on the wrong path while a paltry 7% think the Congress is on the right track. On the economy, 89% of US citizens believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction.  On the Bailout bill, only 28% approve against 53% who disapprove with 34 % believing the bailout will change the economy and 38% believing it will not (Holt, 2009)

Q4. "There are few people who never trust the government in Washington." According to the poll's results, is this a valid generalization? Explain your answer

Yes, it's a valid generalization going by the figure that only 9% don't trust the government in Washington against 1%, 16% and 74% who trust the government Always, Most of the time and Some of the time respectively. The reason being that most of the house occupants especially republicans are pre-occupied with their own agenda apart from that of enhancing the lives of Americans. An example is the diversion of national resources to wars in the Middles East other than revamping the economy (Holt, 2009)  

Q1. How many sampled adults say they would vote for a woman for president?

In the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of September 8-11, 2005, 86% of the sampled adults said they would vote for a woman president.  The number of respondents was 86% of 533= 458.38 which is approximately 459 respondents (Polling Report, 2009)

Q2. How many respondents think vote-counting needs to be made more accurate?

According to the CBS News Poll of December 9-10, 2000, the numbers of respondents who think vote counting needs to be made more accurate were 80% of 1,114= 891.2 i.e approximately 891 respondents (Polling Report, 2009)

Q3.What percentage of respondents either strongly or moderately favor new federal laws limiting the amount of money that an individual or group can contribute to national political parties?

According to the CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll of March 9th-11th , 2001, the number of respondents that either strongly or moderately favor new federal laws are 76%(=51%+25%) of 1, 015 were 771 respondents (Polling Report, 2009)


The public opinion was measured by conducting a random survey of 1, 112 adults in the whole nation among them 281, 416 and 415 were Republicans, Democrats and Independents respectively.  The poll was carried out by CBS News/ New York Times poll held between Januarys 11thand 15th 2009. The results of the poll showed that 22% of Americans approved the overall performance of George W. Bush with a whopping 73% disapproving his presidency.  Dialing of phone lines was done from RDD samples which included the cell numbers as well the land lines.  The findings were based on the interviews carried out by way of telephone where 1,112 adults either 18 years or older were quizzed. The poll had a 95% confidence level with a margin error (sampling error) of + 3%but the error among the subgroups was much higher (CBS News/New York Times Poll, 2009)

The respondents were asked whether they approve or disapprove George Bush's in the he handled his presidential job. Below are the historical results from January 2008 to January 2009 based on the poll conducted by Gallup Poll between these times (Saad, 2009)

Bush went home with a net approval rating of -27 percentage points only managing to beat Richard Nixon who had -42 in the poll conducted by Gallup in August 1974 shortly before he resigned because of the Watergate scandal. Bush received a bump of 9% between the Election Day and President Obama inauguration from the 25% recorded in November last year.  Bush has had a distinction of having received the highest approval rating of 88% after the success of the initial Gulf War and at the same time he goes down in history as the president with the highest disapproval rating of 13%.