How many people to survey?
Poll results are prevalent in the media, especially leading up to elections or when a topic receives widespread news coverage.
The results from small groups of people are used to portray a general consensus about a population. Do you ever wonder how many people should be included in a poll to make it a meaningful reflection of a population? Now you will be able to answer your own question. After learning this, you might never feel the same about these polls again!
For this task, you will access this Web site to choose a poll on two different subjects to analyze—presidential politics and environmental issues. Once you are on the Web site, select Topics and you will see a search box that says “What do you have on…” Type in “presidential politics” to get a long list of available polls on that topic. From there, you can scroll through various polls and choose one that is of interest to you. Look to choose a poll question that relates to a major topic, not a small subtopic. Once you see a question you like, you can click on the brown graph icon to the right of the question to see a graphical representation of the poll results and information on the sample size of the poll. If you click on the brown book icon, you will see a detailed report about the poll. Once you are done with your research on presidential politics, you should repeat the process for an environmental issues survey by going back to the Home page and simply typing “environmental issues” into the search box.
For each of the two polls you chose, please answer the following questions:
- Describe the poll you chose and why you chose it.
- Analyze the number of people who participated in the sample compared to the number in the population.
- Given what you have learned about polls and surveys, do you think this is a reasonable sample size for the question polled?
- Do you think that this poll accurately reflects the viewpoint of the population as a whole? Why or why not?
- Discuss how the results of the survey can be used to tell a story or support an idea of the group that would be the most pleased with the results of the poll.