Public opinion theory and research are becoming increasingly significant in modern societies as people’s attitudes and behaviors become ever more volatile and opinion poll data becomes ever more readily available. This major new Handbook is the first to bring together into one volume the whole field of public opinion theory, research methodology, and the political and social embeddedness of polls in modern societies. It comprehensively maps out the state-of-the-art in contemporary scholarship on these topics.
Chapter 45: The Use of Surveys by Governments and Politicians
The Use of Surveys by Governments and Politicians
The history of governments' use of polls is a story about the push and pull between the desire by political elites to gauge public opinion accurately, and the concurrent resistance by political elites to the use of surveys. Simply put, the birth and growth of polling by politicians and government officials have not been met with uniform acceptance or approval. To the contrary, politicians' use of surveys has been a struggle for legitimacy, with recent public officials decrying the use of polls even as they use them. President George W. Bush repeatedly noted when campaigning in 2000 that he governs ‘based upon principle and not polls and focus groups’ (Green, ...