EM 4: Are Opinion Polls Useful? (1946)

Are Opinion Polls Useful?By Ralph Nafziger
Professor of Journalism, University of Minnesota
(Published January 1946)

What Was the Old-Fashioned Way of Polling Opinion?

  • How accurate was the old way?

What Are Public Opinion Polls?

  • How widespread is their use?

How Are Polls Made?

  • How many are questioned?
  • How is the sample set up?
  • How are the questions phrased?
  • What kinds of questions are asked?
  • How are interviewers trained and supervised?

Why Do Polls Get Different Results?

  • Does chance enter in?
  • Are the differences significant?
  • How U.S. Public Opinion in Prewar Shifted in Response to Events Abroad

Is It Important to Know Public Opinion?

  • What’s public opinion to a democracy?
  • Do elections tell enough?
  • Do polls stimulate discussion?

What Types of Information Can Polls Find?

  • What value are pre-election polls?
  • Are polls reaching new fields?

Do Polls Form Public Opinion?

  • What influence have they?
  • Do they help load the bandwagon?
  • What do studies reveal?

Should Congressmen Rely on Poll Results?

  • Is the public always right?
  • Is the minority important?
  • Have polls a place in government?

Should Polls Be Financed and Used by Federal Agencies?

Should An Unbiased Check Be Made of All Polls?

To the Discussion Leader

  • How can leaders arouse interest?
  • What kind of discussion meeting is best?
  • Handbooks to help discussion leaders
  • Questions for discussion are important

For Further Reading