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Valentina Galindo

Kelby Harrison
Philosophy 025
Fall 2015
Analyzing Inductive Arguments
Public opinion polls are usually created to serve as the opinions of a population
by having the public answer a series of question. They are designed to measure the
populations views on a particular topic or even a series of topics. Usually public opinion
polls predict election results or try to estimate the publics attitude on certain topics and
issues. Public opinion polls are some of the best examples we have of inductive
arguments used in our daily lives, and they give us a good reason as to why we need to
know how to analyze them so that we can see if they are reasonable arguments or not.
Although we could rely on other sources to gather the information and tell us what these
polls all mean, we cannot trust these so-called experts because the results could be
misrepresented from their biases. Due to this it is best to understand how to analyze an
argument and to look at how the results were gained and whether or not the conclusion
stated from the polls that the results were based off of are sound or unsound.
In this poll conducted by the Washington Post- ABC News during the time of the
2012 election they asked who was a more favorable presidential candidate to voters,
Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. The entire property in questions was, Overall, do you
have a favorable or unfavorable impression of (INSERT)? Do you feel that way strongly,
or somewhat? (Washington Post). They conducted their survey via telephone,
accounting for both landlines and cellular phones, with a random national sample of

1,018 adults. The people asking the questions about the upcoming election to
participants were hired by the Washington Post to call and collect data on the property
in question. This poll was composed of those that were likely to vote in the upcoming
2012 elections, and with a fairly large sample size of 1,018 adults it was easy enough to
avoid any hastiness. TSN conducts all of the Washington post polls and chooses their
samples with these requirements as stated on their methodology post: respondents
must be 18 years of age or older, understand enough english to complete the survey,
have a phone (either a landline or cellular), and live in the United States. Appropriate
telephone numbers are then chosen using a list-assisted random digit dial. As stated
by their detailed methodology report, Telephone exchanges are stratified prior to
sampling based on: Census state and county; area code; prefix; and working
block(Washington Post) . The Washington post further goes on to explain that, Blocks
of telephone numbers with more than 1 residential directory listing are defined as
working blocks; others are removed (Washington Post). When they have obtained a
final list of numbers, they remove numbers that are no longer in service, and numbers
that belong to businesses.
The population that the poll wanted to represent was that of voters for the 2012
election. Since this poll was conducted via telephone survey, it is bias toward people
that own phones and are willing to spend some time responding to the survey and
answering questions. It is not practical to have personal interviews with everyone from
the nation though, so the telephone survey remains the most practical way to obtain
information for the poll. Taking a look at the numbers presented for the survey that the
Washington Post acquired, it seems that the poll is in favor toward Barack Obama being

a more favorable candidate to Mitt Romney. If this poll were to be judged on a scale of 1
to 10, I would judge this poll in the 8 range. How this poll was conducted could lead to
some biases, mostly from those people that did not respond to the survey. In addition to
that their margin of error posted alongside their poll is a plus or minus four percent. The
numbers given for the poll are fairly close, which does not give much satisfaction to the
idea that this poll represents what most Americans think about their leading presidential
candidates at the time. Although these are very just critics on how the poll was
conducted, I still that the Washington Post did conduct this poll well. Although not
everyone in the nations owns a telephone it is trivial because we are looking for and
concerned about those that are likely to vote, and it is fairly unlikely that these voters
dont own a phone, whether it be a landline or cellphone, of some kind. The question
asked was fairly simple which allowed likely voters to voice their opinion straightforward,
which they would either strongly approve of or strongly disapprove of. Barack Obama
did continue his presidency at the 2012 elections. The Washington Post accurately
depicted who was the most favorable candidate of the 2012 elections, as well as
provided a strong argument and poll to back their results.
Next, we will take a look at a poll conducted by YouGov for the 2012 election
year. YouGov had similar interest as the Washington Post, which was Finding which
candidate was more favorable in the 2012 election, Mitt Romney or Barack Obama.
36,472 likely voters were interviewed by YouGov, which is an extremely large amount of
people and definitely large enough that conclusion would not be made in haste. YouGov
polls on the internet, and also use active sampling on their public opinion surveys.
Active sampling refers to when organizations choose who participates in their surveys,

recruiting them by advertising on other websites and collaborating with these other
websites to gain their percentages. From their detailed methodology report, YouGov
draws a sub-sample of the panel that is representative of American adults in terms of
age, gender, social class and type of newspaper, and invites this sub-sample to
complete a survey (YouGov). In addition the members YouGov decide to use each
have a unique username and password, meaning they could only take part in the survey
being conducted once. YouGov also provides a cash incentive to those participating in
the poll to reduce any biases from self selection. Analyzing their information provided
from strictly internet responders, weigh their results across from a national profile to
report for people without any internet access.
YouGov offers plenty of space for bias through a strictly internet only poll. This
surveys self-selection method makes this poll suffer, and their sampling is not a safe
representation of the population, which is likely voters. YouGov states that they weigh
their results os they are accurate, but they do not reveal exactly how these results are
weighed. It seems that internet polls would possibly over-represent found adults, who
are much more active online than older adults, meaning that older adults (older voters)
are under-represented in this poll. This creates a bias as different age groups fall into
different parties, youth typically going for democratic (Obama) and older generations
going more toward republican ( Romney). Ultimately, I would assign this poll a 4 if it was
given a scale from 1-10. I give them such a low number because there is some
suspicion what exactly happens when they receive the survey information and weigh it
in order to receive their percentages that would make sense to us. This poll allow fishy
in the way they weigh their poll outcomes, was still accurate in predicting who was a

favorable candidate. YouGov methodology, although, is not as precise as the


Washington Post. Although both of these polls arrived at the same conclusion, it does
not mean that both of these methods of retrieving information are good. The
Washington Post had a more organized way of getting random samples, and fulling
disclosed on how they obtained their samples that represent a population, but they still
could have had a larger sample size. While YouGov had a very large sample size, these
numbers had little meaning because they did not disclose how their percentages were
weighed, and they did not do an accurate job of representing the population that they
wanted to apply to their conclusion.

Works Cited
"Favorability - Obama, Romney." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2012.
Web. 26 Nov. 2015.
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/
postabcpoll_20121007.html>.
Rivers, Douglas. "YouGov Poll Performance In The 2012 U.S. Elections." YouGov: What
the World Thinks. N.p., 7 Nov. 2012. Web. 26 Nov. 2015.
<http://today.yougov.com/news/2012/11/07/yougov-poll-performance-2012-uselections>.
"Washington Post Polls: Detailed Methodology." <i>Washington Post</i>. The
Washington Post, 2004. Web. 26 Nov. 2015.
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/methodology.html>
"YouGov | Panel Methodology." YouGov: What the World Thinks. N.p., n.d. Web. 26
Nov. 2015.
<https://yougov.co.uk/about/panel-methodology/>.