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public opinion

what the public thinks about a particular issue or set of issues at any point in time

public opinion polls

interviews or surveys with samples of citizens that are used to estimate the feelings and beliefs of the entire population

straw polls

unscientific surveys used to gauge public opinion on a variety of issues and policies

random sampling

a method of poll selection that gives each person in a group the same chance of being selected

stratified sampling

a variation of random sampling; census data are used to divide the country into four sampling regions. sets of countries and standard metropolitan statistical areas are then randomly selected in proportion to the total national population.

push polls

polls taken for the purpose of providing information on an opponent that would lead respondents to vote against that candidate.

tracking polls

continuous surveys that enable a campaign to chart its daily rise or fall in support.

exit polls

polls conducted at selected polling places on election day.

sampling error/margin of error

a measure of the accuracy of a public opinion poll

political ideology

the coherent set of values and beliefs about the purpose and scope of government held by groups and individuals

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