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Election Polls

Learn everything about election polls, how to use election surveys using examples, things to consider while creating election polls and surveys and much more.


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What are Election Polls?

Definition: Election polls is a process of deploying surveys or polls in the election year to focus on issues prioritized by people, analyze engagement of people in the elections, understand what people think of the electoral candidates, and to whom people favor on voting day. Even though elections are not at the forefront, election polls are conducted with focused questions to identify public opinion about ruling and opposition parties, performance of the elected candidate or to predict the results of the concluded elections. In fact, election polls are used by many electoral candidates to understand pressing issues in their constituencies, flaws in the campaigns, and to analyze voter’s mindset.

One good thing about deploying election polls is, one can easily convert qualitative data into quantitative data. The same data is then interpreted to derive insights for making better decisions or to help take informed decisions. As we are specifically speaking about the election polls, one should understand that polls conducted before voting day are considered as opinion polls and polls conducted after voting day are presumed to be exit polls. The data collected through all such online election polls or surveys is always beneficial for designing election campaigns, understanding people’s opinion about the candidate, and entry polls or exit polls helps in predicting the election results before official declaration of the election results.

Example: Since 2020 US presidential elections are just around the corner, research organizations, independent researchers, political parties/candidates, and freelancers will start conducting election polls. Since neither Republicans or the Democrats have announced their candidates for the 2020 US presidential elections, the online polls should start with a question like

How closely have you been following the news about candidates for the 2020 presidential elections?

  • Very Closely
  • Fairly Closely
  • Not too Closely
  • Not at all Closely
  • Don’t know

The purpose of this poll is to understand public opinion about the forthcoming elections.

Using Election Survey

There is a broad difference between poll and survey, but during election time political parties and the candidates use both these options with different motives. However, election polls is probably one of the areas in America that has survived for years unchanged and unaltered even after the technology evolution. The only difference that we can see is polling method shifted from personal interview calls to online polls.

The political parties and election candidates create a poll with different motives. Election polls can be carried out to identify the most pressing issues in a specific constituency, to gauge public opinion about different candidates, to predict outcomes of the election, to find flaws in the current election campaign, and also to design the election campaign.

These surveys also help in understanding about the candidates who are contesting in the election and their likely agenda for proposed work they wish to do once they have won the elections. This data is important for the voters as it helps them understand the candidate, their profile, what are the developmental plans they have. This data helps voters understand their preferences of whom to cast the vote.

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Things to consider while creating Election Survey

  1. Election survey don’t convey the opinions of those who create them.
    Election surveys only collect data. It’s not about the preferences of those who have created it. It is the information collected from a sample.
  2. Election survey only predict the results.
    Election polls can predict results and give a fair idea of what is going to happen on the day of results.

Errors in Election Survey

Margin of error in the election polls is mostly due to sampling error, which may exist due to random sampling. Usually, a margin of error of +/- 3 % plus or minus 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level or 95% result accuracy. This means, even though you conduct the same survey 100 ties then the expected result will give not more than 3% error. However, there may be other types of error, which need to be avoided. Here are some of the errors of election survey:

  1. Coverage error: This error occurs when the population of a certain area cannot be reached. This may be due to geographical constraints or similar factors.
  2. Measurement error: This error occurs when what was planned to measure couldn’t be measured due to fault in the measuring instrument, types of questions asked and the corresponding answer options, design of the survey and inexperienced interviewer in case of face-to-face interview.
  3. Error due to non-responsiveness: This error occurs when there is no response from the sample, who need to be surveyed. Telephone survey houses historically would practice making 20 or more callbacks to collect information from people, who initially didn’t answer their phones. However, this practice is fast disappearing because of the high cost associated with it and this has been replaced by online surveys where if a sample is nonresponsive they can be replaced with another sample.

How to conduct election poll survey?

  1. Determine the form of media to be used: Decide on the form of media you wish to use that will reach even a big and a diverse audience. Prefer using a renowned online poll maker tool to create a poll. With such tools, it becomes a lot easier to design, create, share, and analyze the poll. Online surveys on the other hand, can also be created using an online survey software to create surveys and share it with a large number of people and there are various mediums used to deploy surveys such as: through a website, by using QR codes, through mobile phones/mobile apps, and through social media posts.
  2. Ask the right questions: Keep the poll questions to the point and ask those questions that are absolutely necessary and have relevance to the ongoing election atmosphere. Asking the right questions will evoke the right responses from the respondents.
  3. Keep the poll survey short: Keep the voting polls survey short and to the point. Avoid including too many questions. Enthusiasm of the respondents may drop and they might end up not filling out the entire survey. This can affect the data collected.
  4. Keep the polls open for a short amount of time: Once the election poll survey is deployed keep it open for a short period of time and let your respondents know how long the poll will be open for. But if the poll survey is sent through emails then it might take a bit longer to receive the responses. In either case, set a deadline to receive the responses.
  5. Close the poll: Close the poll and calculate the result once the response is received. Take steps to announce the results to the people who took the poll survey. If there were efforts made to represent population through meticulous demographic segmentation, chances are poll results could be very close to actual results.

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Example of Election Poll Survey Questions

While creating election poll survey there are some factors that need to be taken into consideration: Questions to be asked in survey, length of election poll survey, and the information or data you intend to collect.

Here are a few election poll survey questions:

  1. Do you plan to register so that you can vote in 2020 election?
    • yes
    • No
    • Don't know
  2. How certain are you that you will vote in the upcoming elections?
    • Absolutely certain
    • Fairly certain
    • Not certain
    • Don’t know/
  3. Who are you planning to vote in the coming elections?
    • Republicans
    • Democrats
    • I don't plan to vote
  4. Do you think Donald Trump has done his job as President well enough to deserve reelection, or do you think it is time to give a new person a chance?
    • Reelect Donald
    • New Person
    • Undecided
  5. What would you say is the most influencing factor for you to vote?
    • Immediate Family Members
    • Friends
    • Relatives
    • Media
    • Others (Please specify)
  6. Are your parents/spouse/relatives going to vote for the same candidate as you?
    • Yes
    • No
    • I am not sure
  7. Which do you identify the most with politically?
    • Republican
    • Democrat
    • Independent
    • Libertarian
    • Others (Please specify)
  8. Do you think media influences election polls?
    • Strongly Agree
    • Agree
    • No opinion
    • Disagree
    • Strongly Disagree

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