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Public Opinion Researchers

History

Public opinion research began in a rudimentary way in the 1830s and 1840s when local newspapers asked their readers to fill out unofficial ballots indicating for whom they had voted in a particular election. Since that time, research on political issues has been conducted with increasing frequency—especially during presidential election years. However, public opinion research is most widely used by businesses to determine what products or services consumers like or dislike.

As questionnaires and interviewing techniques have become more refined, the field of public opinion research has become more accurate at reflecting the individual attitudes and opinions of the sample groups. Companies like Gallup and Harris Interactive conduct surveys for a wide range of political and economic purposes. Although some people continue to question the accuracy and importance of polls, they have become an integral part of our social fabric.

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