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Americans Trust but Donít Listen to Political Polls, Says New FindLaw.com Survey


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Americans Trust but Donít Listen to Political Polls, Says New FindLaw.com Survey

Four out of 10 American adults say they pay little or no attention to the political opinion polls that tell them which presidential candidate is the most popular, and more than eight in 10 say polls do not influence their vote. As the Nov. 4 election day draws closer, Americans are bombarded with media results on a daily basis from opinion polls that purport to show how the candidates are faring within their party, upcoming primary or caucus states, or the national electorate.

How much attention do Americans pay to the results of political polls? Do they trust the accuracy of the polls? And do the poll results influence how they vote? A new national survey conducted by FindLaw.com, the most-visited legal information Web site, sheds some new light on what Americans think about political opinion polls. FindLaw is a Thomson Reuters business.

* Four out of 10 American adults say they pay little or no attention to political opinion polls. While 26 percent say they pay a lot of attention or extremely close attention to poll results, 33 percent say they pay only some attention, and the largest group Ė 40 percent Ė says they pay little or no attention to the polls. The survey also showed that female, older and more educated people tend to pay closer attention to political polls.
* When asked about the accuracy of the polls, only 11 percent of Americans feel the surveys are either extremely accurate or very accurate. Fifty-seven percent believe they are somewhat accurate, 20 percent feel they are not very accurate, and 10 percent say they are not accurate at all.
* Eighty-three percent of Americans say the results of political opinion polls have little or no influence on how they vote. Overall, younger Americans with lower levels of income and education were more than twice as likely to say that political polls have at least some influence in how they vote.
* Those who consider themselves Democratic or leaning Democratic are more likely to pay attention to political polls than those who consider themselves Independent or Republican or leaning Republican. They also are more likely to say that political polls have at least some influence in how they vote. These results may be due, at least in part, to the closely contested fight for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Overall, the FindLaw.com survey results indicate that while most Americans generally believe that political polls are at least a somewhat accurate measure of the views of the electorate, a large percentage of Americans do not pay attention to the results of political polls and the vast majority of Americans say the polls have little or no influence on how they vote.

Listen to a podcast discussing the results of the survey at http://west.thomson.com/podcasts/archive.aspx. (Download the mp3.)

The survey was conducted during the first week of May using a telephone survey of a group of 1,000 randomly selected, demographically balanced American adults. Survey results are accurate plus-or-minus three percentage points.



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