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What does a poll mean?

Definition: Poll is defined as an opinion of the public wherein either randomly selected group of people or almost all the members of a specific community are asked carefully crafted question to gather information of choice. A poll can also be defined as a process conducted to collect feedback or opinion from a set of people on a certain issue or a subject. It is believed that selecting respondents randomly ensures unbiased results of the poll.

Example: One of the most prominent examples of polling is elections. At the time of elections, contestants and political parties create voting polls focusing on people's issue preferences, their engagement in the elections, opinions about the candidates, feedback on campaigns and also to understand voter preferences.

The New York times after analyzing the 2016 US presidential election campaign claimed that online polls overhauled traditional telephone polls. Apart from professional polls, informal polls popping up on news portals, social media, and every other online platform engages the audience to fetch their opinion on specific issues or subjects haunting us in daily life. Today, enterprises of all sizes, media houses, or independent freelancers want to create polls to gauge public opinion on a particular topic or a series of topics affecting their products/services either directly or indirectly.

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Types of Polls

Whoever wants to create a poll, has to create either a single question or a set of poll questions that are then used to determine or predict what people believe, how they feel about something, and/or in what way will they act. Sensing the growing need of a holistic poll maker, many online survey tool vendors, as well as new enterprises, started offering an online platform to create a free poll. It is effortless, easy, and efficient to create a poll using these tools. However, before you create your own poll, here are the nine major types of polls you must know.

  • Opinion Poll: The opinion polls is conducted conducted to collect opinions from a specific set of a sample. The motive behind conducting an opinion poll is to gather the opinion of a certain population by asking them a series of questions related to an issue or a subject and then inferring general responses in ratio or within confidence intervals.
    Example: The United States Presidential elections 2020 are fast approaching and yet Democrats haven’t announced their candidate against President Donald Trump representing the Republican party. This might be the reason, an array of opinion polls are being conducted in the USA to gauge the strength of Trump against various democrat office bearers like Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, etc. The results suggest that Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren both are promising candidates against Donald Trump in the coming election.
Know more about: 'Opinion Polls'
  • Benchmark Poll: A benchmark poll is probably the first poll conducted even before the start of a campaign. Often, a benchmark poll is conducted even before the candidate announces his/her nomination for the office. Nevertheless, in rare instances, it is conducted after the announcement with a parallel motive of raising funds. To create a poll a proper benchmark to compare performance is created and is generally done before the start of the campaign. The results of the benchmark poll help in analyzing where the contestant stands compared to its competitors.
    Example: Joe Biden is in the process of strongly claiming presidential election nomination representing Democrats. Joe and his supporters are constantly in the process of creating a poll (benchmark poll) that will push his image as the strongest candidate and a lead runner in the race for the Democratic nomination. On the contrary, a benchmark poll run by Fox News predicts that 39 percent of voters think Trump will win again and 52 percent find it hard.
  • Bushfire Poll: Bushfire polls lie between benchmark and tracking polls and can be taken multiple times depending on the need and motive. The stiffness in competition and expenses on the campaign required to enhance the image, reputation, awareness of the brand determine the number of bushfire campaigns conducted. These polls are created with a focus on voters and are often lengthy covering varied questions on pressing issues.
    Example: With less than a year to go for 2020 elections, President Donald Trump faces an uphill climb to win the presidency again. Almost all the bushfire polls conducted during his regime show high disapproval. One of the pollsters conducted a poll in January 2016 wherein 52 percent disapprove of his performance and 49 percent strongly disapprove and 49 percent said they will definitely vote for someone else.
  • Tracking Poll: A poll conducted at fixed intervals either with the same set of questions or with fresh questions averaging over a trailing period. Suppose a tracking poll is conducted on a weekly basis, then for each fresh poll, the data from the previous poll is used after discarding the older data.
    Example: Healthcare came out to be one of the most pressing issue voters are concerned about in a tracking poll conducted in early 2018. In mid-2018 tracking poll concluded that voters are interested to see hear candidates speaking about healthcare in the congressional campaigns. In succeeding tracking polls, the issues escalated towards foreign policy, visa policies, climate change, etc.
  • Entrance Poll: A poll conducted before voters casting their vote is called an entrance poll. Usually, the entrance poll is taken to understand the voter's opinion on voting and other similar electoral issues. As there is less scope of people differing from their original opinion, the margin of error in the entrance poll is very less compared to that of an opinion poll.
    Example: In the previous 2016 US Presidential election poll - an entrance poll conducted by the Wall Street Journal predicted that the 44 percent likely voters were in the mood to support Hillary Clinton, and 40 Percent voters were in favor of Donald Trump. Although the poll results predicted Hillary taking a 4 percent lead over Trump, we all know how the unbelievable happened.
  • Exit Poll: Contrast to entrance poll, an exit poll is taken immediately after the voter exits the polling station. These polls are conducted to gauge the winning candidate way before the votes are counted and the results are declared. However, the exit polls do carry a greater margin of error as people are reluctant to share the factual information hence chances are more people might mislead the pollsters by giving false information.
    Example: CNN published an exit poll after the 2016 voting concluded. According to the poll, 52 percent male were in favor of Trump and 54 percent of women were in favor of Hillary. Young voters in the age group of 18 to 44 were supporting Hillary and those between the age group of 45 to 65 were supporting Trump. About 57 percent white population was supporting Trump and about 74 percent black population was supporting Hillary. Even though the exit poll clearly indicated voter inclination more towards Hillary, Donald Trump overcame all the odds and became President of the United States.
Know more about: 'Exit Polls'
  • Deliberative Opinion Poll: A deliberative opinion poll is a unique form of polling wherein public opinion research is used in a new as well as constructive way. The deliberative opinion poll comes up with an assumptive conclusion of public opinion - if they had an opportunity to gather more knowledge and more information pertaining to the issue.
    Example: Date - March 2008, Place - San Mateo, California - a Coalition group in the county called ‘Threshold 2008’ sponsored a deliberative poll to discuss and survey the opinion of participants regarding housing shortages. For two days a weekend sample of 238 participants was considered on the basis of policy perspectives, question experts, and came up with a countywide Assembly on Housing Choices that was based on a deliberative opinion poll.
  • Push Poll: A push poll is considered less as a polling method and more as an interactive marketing technique. The poll is designed and created with a single motive to alter or influence the view of respondents. The goal of the push poll is to reach masses, irrespective of their will and is designed with suggestive and inclined questions ensuring each respondent is pushed to adopt an unfavorable response benefitting the pollster's candidate.
    Example: When Barrack Obama was contesting the US Presidential elections a half-hearted attempt was made to influence Jewish voters with many push polls that were created to link Barrack Obama with various anti-Israel institutions. In addition to that, a large number of push polls were created to project Obama as a Muslim candidate and his policies Pro-Muslim.
  • Straw Poll: A straw poll is considered as an ad-hoc or an unofficial poll conducted to understand the opinion or behavior of people related to some issue. Straw polls are often used as a medium to approximate the strength of a certain candidate in the election, to understand support he is getting from the constituency, to analyze if the campaign is going in the right direction or not.
    Example: On Feb 24, 2019, the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA)’s straw poll ended at midnight. About 1500 respondents from various age groups, race, background, nationality, ethnicity, etc. (an unbiased sample) participated in the poll giving a majority to Bernie Sanders (64%) as their most favorite Presidential candidate.

Tips to Create a Poll

If you want to create a poll that is meaningful, highly engageable, and supportive to your goal, you not only need a free online poll maker but you also need a strategy to create a poll. One major secret to creating a great poll is writing good poll questions, which make sense, which are easy to understand, and which prompt the desired action.

The first obvious decision you have to make while creating a poll questionnaire is to decide whether you want close-ended or open-ended questions. Open-ended questions allow respondents to express their feelings, on the contrary, close-ended questions give respondents a fixed set of options to choose from. Well, this is just a part of creating a good poll questionnaire, the real secret lies not in asking good questions, but in a way, you will be asking them. Here are a few tips that will help you create a poll matching your expectations

  1. Use close-ended questions intelligently: There is a narrow poll and survey, one of them being length and simplicity. A poll has to be simple; but, open-ended questions make it complicated and time-consuming to answer. Try using one or two close-ended questions per poll with optimal options to answer.
  2. Maintain the neutrality of each question: Avoid being bias by restricting yourself from phrasing questions, or by adding an opinion in the question. Don’t ask ‘our xyz product is liked by all, how much do you like it?’ here the question itself is declaring your product is liked by others pushing respondents to rate your product even if they do not like it. Try asking ‘Did our xyz product fulfilled all your expectations or it failed to satisfy you?’
  3. The optimal choice of answer options: Remember, a poll is quintessential unless it has a wide scope of providing honest and thoughtful answers. A poll offering limited or restrictive answer options raises questions over its credibility. Imagine, for the above question Did our xyz product fulfilled all your expectations or it failed to satisfy you? You used only two options ‘Yes’ and ‘No’, then you are actually harming the fabric of the poll as respondents do not have a legitimate option to respond; instead, are forced to provide dishonest feedback. Instead, if you give answer options such as ‘Extremely Satisfied’, ‘Very Satisfied’, ‘Not so Satisfied’, ‘Unsatisfied’, ‘Very Unsatisfied’, ‘Extremely Unsatisfied’ then you could get a balanced set of answers and respondents will find it easy to convey their opinions in an unbiased manner.
  4. Seek a single opinion in every question: A question within a question is called a double-barrelled question, which needs to be avoided in a survey and in a poll. Such questions are confusing and leave a definitive margin of error which is irreparable giving vague poll results. Suppose, if you ask ‘Do you like the color of our newly launched product and its aroma?’ such question will not only confuse respondents but might also force them to skip the entire poll. Therefore, the best way is to split the question and make it a close-ended question; as if, ‘Do you like the color of our newly launched product?’ And ‘Do you like the aroma of our newly launched product?’
  5. Test your poll before distribution: Wearing pollster shoes is a responsible task. There is no greater sin than to create your own poll laden with mistakes and errors. Therefore, test your poll before sending it or sharing it with the respondents. One of the best ways is to ask your friends, colleagues, or other staff members to take the poll as they are the ones who will share their feedback and let you know any redundancies they noticed in the poll.

How to create a poll?

If you go online you will find a lot of online poll maker options, each developed with a vision to bring efficacy, ease, and efficiency in creating a poll. Being a low code platform offering drag-and-drop interface, no technical or coding knowledge is necessary ensuring even a novice can create a poll seamlessly. For further assistance, here is a stepwise brief on how to create a poll using QuestionPro

  1. Login to your QuestionPro account
  2. Click on the right-hand corner and select the second option that says ‘Polls’

    Poll-Button

  3. Click on ‘+Create a New Poll’
  4. Enter the Poll Name and click on ‘Create a Poll’

    Create-a-poll

  5. Go to Edit Question and type the question
  6. Choose the Answer type from the options present below the Answer box
  7. There are three answer options to choose from ‘Single Choice', ‘Multiple Choice’, and ‘Text Box’

    Answer-options

  8. Choose the relevant option
  9. Edit the answer options
  10. Eureka! You have successfully created a poll Create-a-poll-easily
  11. Share the poll link on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or through QR code in a single click Share-the-poll
  12. Embed the poll in your website by copying the HTML Code Embed-in-website

Advantages of creating an online poll

Polls are becoming increasingly popular amongst businesses, political parties, and media houses. Due to the ability to respond to polls with minimal effort, maximum accuracy, and without constraints, people are happy to participate more in an online poll. Additionally, polls stand out on social media and in visual news feeds, making them more noticeable and appealing to respond. Due to the increased engagement, online polls provide greater flexibility in gathering data related to a product in an effective and efficient manner. Here are few advantages businesses can achieve through online polls.


  1. Online poll reaches a wider audience

    Increased internet penetration rate and increasing dependence on handheld devices like mobiles and tablets have increased the reach of an online poll. It is as easy to send an online poll to the Global audience as sending it to your own colleagues. The wider reach and ease in poll distribution makes an online poll creator a sound choice for enterprises looking to expand their business in new territories.

  2. An online poll is easier to respond

    Whether it is a professional, student, or a seasonal worker, everyone spends a lot of time online; either on the desktop or on their mobile phones. In addition to that, a multifunctioning browser makes it possible to easily notice and participate in an online poll easily between other tasks. Furthermore, the length and simplicity of an online poll make responding a lot easier.

  3. Polls provide a faster and more accurate result

    Online polls are designed to provide faster and sophisticated results. It is possible to interpret real-time responses and even display the results to participants as well. As most of the times, close-ended questions are asked in a poll no data entry is necessary to interpret the poll results. Additionally, few questions and unbiased opinions reduce the error margin to give near accurate poll results.

  4. Option to choose the audience

    one of the best things about online polls is the flexibility to choose the type of audience required to take the poll. You can send the poll to various respondents having different sex, age groups, race, demographics, etc. ensuring unbiased opinions.

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