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Public Opinion Polls

Directions for the Internet Resource Assignment on Public Opinion Polling:

Overall directions
First, explore the two websites noted on the assignment worksheets. Go through the various resources and explore and learn from the various public opinion survey reports available. Part of the assignment is the exploration you will undergo while visiting the Gallup Organization and the Pew Research Center.

For each website you visit, choose one survey to explore. You may choose any survey, not just those dealing with political issues. It may be a poll about something in pop-culture. These too are scientific surveys and since my objective is to expose you to methodology, choose something that interests you.

If, for whatever reason, you choose a survey that does not have the information you need to complete the assignment (i.e. you find some article explaining the results of a survey without detailed information about the methodology), then find another. There are plenty of surveys on each website that contain the information you need to complete the assignment.

The Assignment Questions
1) The first question asks you to select one question from the survey and simply write it down. I am asking for the exact wording of one question you select from the survey. I am not asking for all questions. I am asking for the word for word exact question because I explained that the phrasing of questions is related to validity.
2) The second question asks you to specify when the poll was conducted. Identify the exact dates as this is related to reliability. Be careful not to make the mistake of providing the press release date.
3) The third question asks you to write down the percentage breakdowns for the question you selected for question #1. Simply copy down the data
4) The fourth question asks you to describe the methodology. Here is where you will find that information:
a. Gallup Organization  usually at the bottom of the article page describing the survey results. There is usually a section at the bottom called “Survey Methods”.
i. Also look for a link in that section titled, “View methodology, full question results, and trend data.” Click this link for access to a .PDF file that often contains even more information
ii. NOTE: If the survey topic you are reading about does not contain any information about methods, or otherwise does not give you enough information to properly complete the worksheet, then move on and find another polling topic that provides the information that will allow you to complete the assignment. Some of the survey articles on Gallup do not provide enough information about the methods used. Use one that does.
b. Pew Research Center  usually on the right side near the top of the article describing the survey results. There are usually two links that will be of interest for you in completing the assignment.
i. One is labeled, “Complete Report”. This describes the methodology.
ii. The other is labeled, “Topline questionnaire.” This will help you find questions, dates, and percentage breakdowns.
5) The last question is the most important. This is where you analyze the methodology and comment about issues such as question wording, sample size, weighting, etc. Basically analyze the poll after having read my explanations in the first two pages. Put effort into your analysis and explain your conclusions.

For further reading on the Internet if you someday want to learn more:
National Council on Public Polls

Wikipedia pages on reliability, validity, margin of error, confidence intervals, samples, and surveys

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