What are voting polls?
Voting polls are research tools to understand opinions and decisions made by the public in the case of events such as elections. These polls are conducted with a randomly selected sample within the target population that would be influential in generalizing the opinion received to the entire population.
Traditionally, polls used to be conducted verbally, using ballot boxes or through electronic clipboards. However, in the recent past, polls as a whole embraced digital technology and now almost all the polls are conducted online. Statistical methods are being invented to implement voting polls via online mediums such as social media or blogging websites.
Voting Poll Methods
There are three main voting poll methods:
The primary voting poll conducted in the campaign is called the benchmark voting poll. Generally, it is carried out either prior to the candidature being filed or right after it depending on the funds they collect.
Irrespective of whether the campaign is political or not, benchmark voting polls serve multiple purposes.
- A benchmark poll helps election candidates in gaining a clear understanding of where they stand in the voting race before putting in any effort in campaigning activities.
- The outcome of the benchmark polls is helpful in deciding whether a specific candidate should apply or refrain from contesting the election.
- A benchmark poll can also be used to understand the populace that will be voting in candidates' favor and/or against him/her.
- The results of the benchmark polls also play a major role in understanding and strategizing the course of the remaining election campaign. Candidates can focus on potential voters who can probably vote in their favor if they are convinced effectively. Besides the election campaign is then designed by focusing on transforming such voters.
Brushfire Voting Poll:
A poll conducted between benchmark and tracking polls is called as brushfire voting polls. Often, the frequency of brushfire polls depends on the budget of the campaign as well as on the intensity of competition. The main focus of brushfire polls is to determine the number of people voting in favor of the candidate who is conducting the polls.
A brushfire poll also serves different purposes in an election campaign:
- When candidates are interested to understand the progress they achieved in the election campaign within a demographic, they create a brushfire poll and distribute it. Apart from knowing their progress, they also end up with the information about electorates who will vote for and against them.
- The brushfire poll plays an instrumental role in providing insights about messages and slogans that are performing well for candidates. The same poll method can be used for competitor analysis and obtain insights about what the competitors have to say about them. Depending on the poll outcomes, candidates can take time to prepare their strategies to fight the election in a more efficient and effective manner.
- In a brushfire poll, a lot of candidates usually force central challengers to give up and join a stronger candidate.
Tracking Voting Poll:
Also called the rolling poll, wherein online polls are conducted across multiple time periods to collect reponses frequently. The results are analyzed using the moving average method of the feedback most recently collected, for instance, in the last week or 10 days.
How to create Voting Polls?
With poll softwares such as QuestionPro, an electoral candidate can create a poll in minutes. Here is a step by step guide on creating a poll with this software.
- Login to your account.
- After the candidate logs in, he/she should click on the “Create a Poll” button.
- Assign a name to this poll.
- Once the poll has been given a name, a dashboard will appear which is where the poll question can be edited. This poll can then be sent via social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, QR code or embedded on the website.
- Results can be analyzed in real-time from the “Reports” dashboard.
Voting Poll Questions
The chronological order of the following questions can define the success of a voting poll and the impact of the answers too.
- In this election, which candidate would you vote for?
- Are you satisfied with the current president’s performance?
- Are you inclined to vote in the midterm Congressional elections?
While creating voting poll questions, keep below points in mind to gain maximum responses and deep insights into the choices of voters.
- Include both the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates in the questions.
- Randomize the order of Democratic and Republican candidates so that some respondents hear the Democratic candidate first and others hear the Republican candidate first. Randomizing the display of options are an attempt to make the presentation as similar as possible to what voters will actually see while casting their votes..
- Phrase the voting polls questions such that they don't sound biased.
- One of the major concerns in determining voter's choice can be the question of whether respondents will answer honestly when asked for their candidate choice in an election. However, this isn't been a major problem so far as most voting poll results have been very accurate. Generally, only about 5% of people refuse to answer the vote choice question.In case the election polls or voting polls were distributed by email, send a follow-up question in an effort to obtain a preference.
Scope of Errors in Voting Polls
There are four main types of errors in voting polls. These errors are noticed over the course of time, which need to be resolved if you want to have almost flawless results from the polls.
- Margin of Error in the Sample:
Voting polls are usually sent out to a sample from a population and it is highly probable that the results obtained from this sample may be skewed. Margin of error is the difference between a sample and the entire population. Opinions of a sample may be slightly different than what the population would say.
Margin of error is reduced by calculating the poll response averages or conducting a poll with a larger voting population of around 500-1000 members.
- Bias due to Non-responsiveness:
There are instances where the respondents ignore the poll via multiple mediums, such as face-to-face or online. In the recent times, this rate of response has been reduced to 10%. It is not possible to get results from this 10% of the population which will represent the entire population and the results achieved will be highly biased.
- Bias due to Response:
A lot of respondents tend to answer a poll uninterestedly and this can cause response bias. Respondents answering voting polls conducted to understand sensitive factors such as ethnicity or race will mostly not submit their true thoughts and opinions.
- Words used in a voting poll question:
The voting poll question formation, the intent behind asking a particular question and the order of asking those is very important. If a candidate is shown more love and support if he/she is projected to be a “good leader”. This can lead to respondents favoring those candidates who truly are not capable to perform according to the expectations. Error due to the usage of specific words can be minimized by rotating the questions among the same population or creating different sets of questions and dividing them within the entire population.
Importance of Voting Polls
- It is crucial to understand which sections of the public are highly likely to support a candidate and the sections which are against them.
- Insights about a particular topic can be achieved using voting polls by obtaining the perspective of the respondents.
- Voting polls are also vital for people belonging to different demographics in understanding one another.
- There is a section of the society which has almost no access to various media sources and voting polls can be key for them to express themselves to try and be a part of the change.
- Pollsters find primary elections more challenging than general elections, as the number of candidates is more and includes names that might be unfamiliar to voters. Long lists of candidates can create difficulties in a telephone survey, and randomizing the order of candidates may not be possible. Online voting polls remove this barrier and make it easy to keep it unbiased.
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