This chapter explores both the direct and indirect effects of public opinion polls in order to better understand how they help construct our self images and our sense of democratic consensus. The potential effects of polls on the public and political process are many. Indirect effects include the way polls affect important elites in the political process, whose actions ultimately affect the public at large; the effect of polls on the campaign strategies employed by political candidates. The widespread reporting of opinion polls by the news media underscores the importance of considering the impact of these polls on the public. The impact of polls on perceived consensus can extend beyond simply telling people whether their own opinion is in the majority or minority and how aggregate opinion is changing over time. The chapter looks at ways in which polls may directly and indirectly influence the public, ranging from voter behavior to the construction of America's self image.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)