Opinion polls are surveys carried out to assess what the general public thinks about a particular matter. Such polls are carried out by opinion research institutes. For example, such an institute could be asked by a laundry detergent company to test whether customers like a new product. The institute then puts together a questionnaire and hands it out to a certain group of people. In this case, housewives may be chosen, under the assumption that housewives will be the ones buying the laundry detergent. In this way, an opinion pollster tries to find out whether it is worth putting a new detergent on the market. In a case like this, the opinion polling is called "market research”.
People are very often asked for their opinion in the run-up to elections. Newspapers, television stations or political parties
commission polling institutes to select people either by random or according to their age, profession, sex, place of residence etc.. They are then asked what party they want to vote for or what they don’t like about policies. Another popular question is to ask them which politicians are doing the best and worst job in their opinion. After the answers have been evaluated, it is possible to get an idea about what the outcome of the election
may be. The results of opinion polls are important to parties and politicians, because it may be possible for them to change their election campaign in such a way that they end up winning.
Gerd Schneider / Christiane Toyka-Seid