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By Scott L. Althaus

Due to the fact so few humans seem familiar with public affairs, one may possibly query no matter if collective coverage personal tastes published in opinion surveys effectively exhibit the distribution of voices and pursuits in a society. Scott Althaus' finished research of the connection among wisdom, illustration, and political equality (in opinion surveys) ends up in stunning solutions. wisdom does subject, and how it really is allotted in society may cause collective personal tastes to mirror critiques disproportionately. for that reason, the research can assist survey researchers, newshounds, politicians, and anxious voters larger relish the issues and potentials of using opinion polls to symbolize the people's voice.

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By Scott L. Althaus

Due to the fact so few humans seem familiar with public affairs, one may possibly query no matter if collective coverage personal tastes published in opinion surveys effectively exhibit the distribution of voices and pursuits in a society. Scott Althaus' finished research of the connection among wisdom, illustration, and political equality (in opinion surveys) ends up in stunning solutions. wisdom does subject, and how it really is allotted in society may cause collective personal tastes to mirror critiques disproportionately. for that reason, the research can assist survey researchers, newshounds, politicians, and anxious voters larger relish the issues and potentials of using opinion polls to symbolize the people's voice.

Show description

Read or Download Collective Preferences in Democratic Politics: Opinion Surveys and the Will of the People PDF

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Additional resources for Collective Preferences in Democratic Politics: Opinion Surveys and the Will of the People

Sample text

After a brief history of the “collective rationality” concept, I explore two critical assumptions underlying the notion of collective rationality: that errors are random, and that random error cancels out when aggregated. The remaining part of the chapter examines what signals look like when refracted through aggregate parameters, the conditions required for collective opinions to accurately convey signals from informed opinion givers, and how accurately means, plurality choices, and marginal percentages reflect the direction and shape of informed opinion.

These assumptions about the nature of survey responses form the theoretical core of Page and Shapiro’s collective rationality argument: So long as the measurement errors in different individuals’ opinions are not systematically related to each other, . . a survey can produce a highly reliable estimate of collective preferences, as of the moment of interviewing. And so long as the bits of knowledge temporarily affecting different individuals at the time of their interviews are also random, then these will also be reliable estimates of stable long-term collective preferences: collective preferences as defined in terms of the individual’s long-term preferences.

Framed as a response to the charge that public opinion is capricious, fickle, and volatile, Page and Shapiro studied all available 0521820995c02 0 521 82099 5 The Power of Noise June 10, 2003 18:14 31 national surveys of policy preferences administered from the late 1930s to 1990 and found, contrary to earlier studies based on individual-level data, that “the American public, as a collectivity, holds a number of real, stable, and sensible opinions about public policy and that these opinions develop and change in a reasonable fashion, responding to changing circumstances and to new information” (1).

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