Should Political Polls Influence Political Decision-making?

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“In no country is public opinion so powerful as in the United States” stated British journalist James Brice in 1900 (Erikson, 3). He was very perceptive as the use of polls of the public was increasing. Politicians traditionally have the goal of re-election. Because of this, many politicians are swayed by the results of polls of the public. The question is, of course, are the political polls correct and how much they should effect and influence political decision-making. This has been something that politicians have had to ask themselves for many years, and in the end there is four main lines of thought on political polls. Walter Lippman, George Gallup, Herbert Blummer, and Lindsay Rogers generated these thoughts in an effort to explain the problems with polls and how much, if any, consideration politicians should give to them. Walter Lippman was a major critic of the polls as well as bit of an elitist. He believed that the mass public could be influenced by elite propaganda and therefore were incapable of making the best decisions. The general population that is polled does not have all of the latest, correct information to make an educated informed decision (Erikson, 3). When Lippman was speaking of this it was the early 1920s were people only received the news if they brought a newspaper and then it was limited to how much information was published. Today you can find out almost anything on the Internet, which in some was discredits this line of thought a bit. Lippman thought that while the leaders of the country should be elected by the public, it would be best if scientifically oriented people were to make the public policy as they had a clearer picture of what was currently happening (Erikson,3). To a certain point, I th... ... middle of paper ... ...e answer to any question. All four, Lippman, Gallup, Blummer and Rogers have good points for how much credence polls should be given, though I think that Gallup and Lippman are a bit extreme for today’s culture. Lippman wanted to ignore the polls too much and Gallup wanted to enforce the polls too much. I think that polls are just one more tool in a politician’s toolbox. Like Lindsay Rodgers I agree with Edmund Burke that politicians should use their best judgment to make decisions. While I do want the people who’s job it is to represent me to pay attention when I do make the effort to let them know my opinion on a particular issue, I try to trust them to watch out for the best interest of my community. Works Cited Erikson, Robert S., and Kent L. Tedin. American Public Opinion: Its Origins, Content, and Impact. New York: Pearson Longman, 2005. Print.
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