The Role Of Surveys Essay

1125 words - 5 pages

Surveys are used to collect data on many different issues, products, and events; they have become so popular that many individuals and organizations will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars obtaining accurate and relevant survey answers. One area where surveys have had an even greater impact is in the political arena. Surveys are popular tools to gauge how effective a politician performed or simply to determine whether a person is conservative or liberal their political ideology. These surveys are often analyzed for bias, as a slanted survey can potentially cause a public figure or organization to make far reaching decisions. Two political surveys taken from surveymonkey.com are particularly interesting to compare and contrast. One examines the public’s specific view of President Obama’s healthcare reform law, while the other asks general questions which determine the respondent’s political leanings. A careful study of the two surveys shows some the strengths and weaknesses of each, as well as gives hints to who is really being targeted by the survey.
The first survey being studied was sponsored by CNN and asked twenty nine questions that dealt with all aspects of healthcare reform. This survey was extremely effective in determining the general public’s view of healthcare reform; this was evidenced by follow up polls that had similar results. This was the main purpose of the CNN survey. Advocates on both sides of the aisle argued that the public was sympathetic to their side and an objective and comprehensive survey was a great way to determine which side had a more valid claim. The survey not only shed light on whether or not Americans supported healthcare reform, but the core reasons why they did or did not. The questions were phrased in a neutral way that was meant to avoid charges that the survey was meant to find a predetermined answer to the questions. (Asher, 45) This made the survey fair for virtually any American voter to take without fear that their answers would be interpreted in a way that was favorable to one side regardless of their true feelings. Due to this objective phrasing, the CNN survey must be considered a successful effort to gauge public opinion in a nonbiased way regarding healthcare reform.
The CNN poll sought out both a broad as well as a specific audience; it was intended to be discussed by American voters in general, and those with the power to alter or eliminate the healthcare reform bill specifically. After all, if the researchers at CNN thought their survey would have no chance of influencing legislators they would not have invested the time or the effort in crafting and distributing such a survey. Since the poll looked to sample such a large audience, the questions had to be fair and clear to understand, but created in a way that covered all angles of a very complex issue. (Webster, 80) This appears to have been done; the survey takers avoiding “biased” words like “leading candidate”...

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