Prepare to get meta: A new poll shows three-quarters of Americans, across all demographic subgroups, think public opinion polls are biased.
A poll. Of people. Telling us most people don’t believe polls.
Distrust is strongest for polls conducted by candidates, political parties and automated voice recording firms, but news media polls are not widely trusted, either, according to the survey of 1,011 Americans conducted July 24 through Aug. 4 on behalf of Kantar, the research and data management division of WPP, a British multinational advertising and public relations company.
The poll, called “The Path to Public Opinion,” found that although Americans believe polls are biased, they’re not certain who they favor: A very small percentage believes they are biased toward conservatives; a slightly larger percentage believes they are biased towards liberals; and a significant majority (68 percent) just think they are biased in some way.
Also, 67 percent of Americans claim to pay little to no attention to polls when considering for what or whom to vote. Yet 59 percent of Americans say they pay attention to consumer research when considering products or services to buy.
While poll participants are harder to find, Kantar’s research shows that the identity of a poll’s sponsor is a key determinant of people’s willingness to take part. Academics and foundations have the most positive impact on willingness (41 percent say they are more likely to participate) while social media sites get only 11 percent; news organizations, at 24 percent, run about even with political parties or candidates, at 23 percent.
Surprisingly, only 11 percent of Americans say they view social media as a viable source of information about public opinion on policy and politics, and 60 percent are less likely to take a poll conducted on a social media site. Only 6 percent say they use social media to communicate about issues and causes, while 61 percent say they use it only to communicate with friends and family.