Keynote Michael Traugott

Michael Traugott: How to Understand Public Perceptions of Polls and Their Use in Policy Making

Recent research suggests that the public is interested in poll results for a number of reasons, but public evaluations of poll results are not based on knowledge of their underlying methodology or the source of reported results. An important element of perceptions of their accuracy and trustworthiness is whether or not the results conform to an individual's own views on the subject. This view is supported by survey experiments utilizing both policy and horse race polls in different countries. The consequences of this understanding for expectations of the role of polls in a democratic society and how poll results might affect policy making will be discussed.