- The measurement of opinions on specific issues through interviews with a representative sample of the group whose views are to be described. Polls are often referred to by the name of the interviewing company, as in Gallup poll. The most common topics in polls are voting intentions and political party support, views on the government of the day and its policies, and views on major current public issues; hence opinion polls are regularly used to forecast election results, often successfully. Opinion polls were an important source of data for social scientists for decades before social surveys became widespread; for example, Gallup polls provide data as far back as 1937 in Britain. Some polling companies now seek to create cross-national comparative data-sets.
Dictionary of sociology. 2013.
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