Professor Vincent Price and Ph.D. candidate Talia Stroud recently published an article in the Winter 2006 edition of the International Journal of Public Opinion Research. The article is titled "Public Attitudes Toward Polls: Evidence from the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election."
Abstract: This study investigates the perceived impact of election polls, focusing on the hotly contested 2000 U.S. presidential election. Survey data from 558 individuals gathered during the final days of the election campaign are analyzed to examine beliefs that the polls greatly affect other voters, general views of polls as good or bad for the country, beliefs about whether pollsters influence their results to come out a certain way, and support for banning election-night projections. Results indicate that most respondents felt the polls had no influence on themselves while still affecting others. Respondents exhibiting these 'third-person-effect' perceptions were significantly more likely than others to believe that election polls are a bad thing for the country. Negative perceptions of polls and beliefs that pollsters try to influence results were also related to general distrust of the news media. Negative views of polls in turn were associated with increased support for prohibiting election-night projections. In general, the results illustrate the dependency of negative views about polling on fears of untoward effects on voters, in particular the fear that polls and election projections might lend support to candidates opposed by the respondent.