No. 22




Why public opinion polls are necessary

15 December 2010


RiTo No. 22, 2010

Research has shown that the positions of politicians and journalists influence the opinion of voters more than pre-election public opinion polls.

At the same time, the so-called tactical election behaviour where the voters take the results of polls into account in forming their election preferences does not show the weakness, but the strength of democracy. At the elections the voter should be able to use all available information in order to decide which political power best represents him or her. The knowledge about the support of political forces among other voters can also be considered such information. Thus, it can be said in conclusion that pre-election public opinion polls are certainly necessary. And in spite of the scepticism that is sometimes demonstrated before the public, the political parties actually have no doubts about it but even order additional polls, so that they could set targets for election campaigns better. But public opinion polls also have an important role for the voters. The results of polls can fulfil that role if at their presentation it is known how much the polling results can be extended to reality, and if the facts that were revealed by the polls are kept apart from the fantasy of the interpreters of those facts. If that can be achieved, the public opinion polls contribute to the democracy of elections and more carefully planned decision-making at elections.

Full article in Estonian