How are political surveys used?

This is a Presidential election year and candidates will rely on polls - the use of surveys to collect information from voters to determine what kind of person people are willing to vote for.

In this assignment we will look at how political polls are used by candidates. We will also test our own surveys created in class can determine the outcome of this year's election.

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Task A: How do candidates select platforms and campaign strategies?

Answer the following questions based on the the reading.

  1. What are some examples of personal stories Democratic candidates are sharing about themselves in their campaigns?

  2. Which candidates have revealed personal information as part of their campaigns?

  3. Which candidates have chosen not to use their personal lives or backgrounds in their campaigns?

  4. According to the article, how did former President Bill Clinton change the way campaigns are conducted?

  5. Why is there a "30-year gap" in candidate John Edwards' story, according to the article?

  6. Why might Dr. Howard Dean's upbringing not be considered "compelling"?

  7. How might regional differences account for candidates' campaign styles, according to the article?

  8. How might economic or class differences affect the amount of information a candidate chooses to disclose about him- or herself, according to the article?

  9. Why did a reporter ask Dr. Dean, "Does your wife know you're running for president?"

  10. Was there any indication that John Kerry could be the winner of the Democratic Primaries after reading this article?

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Task B: Answer the following questions based on the reading.

  1. How has the public's confidence in President Bush's handling of international crisis changed in the last five months?

  2. According to the poll cited in the article, how does a majority of the public now feel about his ability to make good economic decisions?

  3. What conclusions do the reporters draw from the survey with regards to the public's opinion of the Democratic presidential candidates as the potential future leadership of the country?

  4. Which poll results surprise you? Which do not surprise you?

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Task C: Create a poll of your own:

  1. Team up with your group and create a political survey.

  2. The questions of your survey should answer the following question: What kind of candidate do people want to vote for in a presidential election? This means that all of the answers to your survey's questions helps to answer the question;What kind of candidate do people want to vote for in a presidential election?

  3. Think about what kinds of information a potential Presidental candidate might be interested in; the values, opinions, interests held by voters.

  4. Phrase your questions so that you can find out how much, or how little someone feels about the issues raised in your survey's questions no one feels exactly the same as the next person - specially when it comes to politics!

  5. Use the following guidelines for creating your group's survey. There are also resurces provided below to add to your knowledge of polls.

  6. See your teacher when you have completed a rough draft of your survey's questions and answers.

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Task D: Tally the results from your poll

  1. Add up the number of respondents to each of the questions in your survey.

  2. Write a summary: What kind of candidate do people want to vote for in a presidential election?

  3. Write a review of the work you did:
    1. What part of the assignment did your group enjoy the most?
    2. What was the most difficult part of the assignment?
    3. What value does your survey have? Did it determine what kind of candidate do people want to vote for in a presidential election?
    4. Did your ideas about political surveys change? How?

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George W Bush

John Kerry

Howard Dean

John Edwards

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How do candidates choose to communicate with potential voters

How are polls used to evaluate the President's effectiveness

More information of Polls: includes links to organizations that conduct polls, samples of existing web-based surveys, and groups that track polls.

Samples of political surveys

Who answers on-line surveys?

20 Questions A Journalist Should Ask About Poll Results




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Grading for the Tasks C & D

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Are polls an efficient means of communicating with voters?

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State Standard 5.1, National Standards I and II

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  Updated: 03/26/04  
email Ken at