What Goes Into a Political Poll?

Caption: The graph shows the results of opinion polls showing President George Bush's approval ratings from February 2001 to August 2006.

It's hard to turn on the television without seeing or reading about some kind of poll. Perhaps the poll indicates what kind of soap people prefer. Perhaps the poll states the minivan preferences of families. In terms of political circles, polls often focus on presidential candidates or campaign issues.

Polls have been used for a long time. They question what people think and feel. They help campaign managers alter their candidate's issues. They help towns make future plans. Polls can be social, economic, or even political in nature.

Polls are used as a tool. They are a source of information. They offer short-term probability. They can be easily skewed so they need to be clearly understood. The information from polls can be used or misused. One needs to be skeptical when interpreting the results. Therefore, one needs to understand the difference between a good one and a bad one.

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