• 2008 Harris Polls
• Zogby International
• The Gallup Organization
• The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press
• Polling Report
• CBS News Polls
• Los Angeles Times Poll
• The Washington Post/ABC News Polls
• ABC News Polling Unit
• Rasmussen Reports
Please note: This page has not been updated after the Elections on November 4, to better illustrate the election cycle that lead to the election of President Barack Obama.
Public opinion polling is ever-present in American life. Estimates indicate that, for the 2008 election cycle, more than 500 state and national polls are surveying the U.S. public about the presidential race or issues ranging from Iraq and the environment to immigration and the economy.
Though not part of the rules and laws governing electoral politics, public opinion polls have become an essential part of the electoral process in recent decades. Many political candidates hire pollsters and take frequent polls. Polling informs political candidates of how well they are being perceived in relation to their competitors, and what issues are uppermost in the minds of the voters. The media — newspapers, television — also conduct opinion polls and report them (along with results of private polls) to give citizens a sense of how their preferences for candidates, issues, and policies stand in relation to the preferences of others.
Fifty years ago, only one or two large organizations dominated public opinion polling. Today, in an era of instant news, the Internet, and 24-hour cable-news channels, numerous sources regularly provide the results of opinion polls. For more information please see Polls and Pundits from the IIP Publication USA Elections in Brief.
• Pollsters Take the Political Pulse of American Voters (U.S. Department of State, IIP) - "In 1936, when public opinion polls were in their infancy, the prestigious Literary Digest conducted an ambitious survey using phone books and automobile registrations. Their conclusion: Republican Alf Landon handily would defeat incumbent President Franklin Roosevelt."
• Political Polls: Why We Just Can't Live Without Them - John Zogby (U.S. Department of State, IIP): "I make my living by asking questions and so here are a few: What do early polls mean many months before an election? Do they predict or are they simply barometric readings? With all the talk of global warming, are Americans (and those who follow American elections) victims of "poll-ution" — i.e., too many polls out there in the public domain? Can we do without the public polls? I will try to answer each of these questions."
• Pollster Discusses How Independent Voters Affect U.S. Politics - John Zogby explains how political center of United States has been “reborn” (U.S. Department of State, IIP): "In the presidential races of 1996, 2000 and 2004, Zogby correctly identified the winners -- something no other major American pollster was able to do. Much of Zogby's polling is conducted using live telephone operators, but over the past decade he has developed an interactive polling methodology that has become extraordinarily accurate."
Texts are abridged from U.S. State Department IIP publications and other U.S. government materials. What kind of information materials are available?
CD: These documents are available in fulltext format on the About the USA CD-ROM. Teachers: Request a copy for classroom use.
L: Selected documents are available in German as well as other languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish, Persian and Turkish.
Any reference obtained from this server to a specific commercial product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the United States Government of the product, process, or service, or its producer or provider. The views and opinions expressed in any referenced document do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government.
U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany /Public Affairs/ Information Resource Centers
Updated: March 10, 2009