Public opinion theory and research are becoming increasingly significant in modern societies as people's attitudes and behaviors become ever more volatile and opinion poll data becomes ever more readily available. This major new Handbook is the first to bring together into one volume the whole field of public opinion theory, research methodology, and the political and social embeddedness of polls in modern societies. It comprehensively maps out the state-of-the-art in contemporary scholarship on these topics.

With over fifty chapters written by distinguished international researchers, both academic and from the commercial sector, this Handbook is designed to:

Give the reader an overview of the most important concepts included in and surrounding the term ‘public opinion’ and its application in modern social research; Present the basic empirical concepts for assessing public opinion and opinion changes in society; Provide an overview of the social, political and legal status of public opinion research, how it is perceived by the public and by journalists, and how it is used by governments; Offer a review of the role and use of surveys for selected special fields of application, ranging from their use in legal cases to the use of polls in marketing and campaigns.

The SAGE Handbook of Public Opinion Research provides an indispensable resource for both practitioners and students alike.

Exit Polls and Pre-Election Polls

Kathleen A.Frankovic

Pre-election polls measure vote intention prior to Election Day; exit polls are surveys conducted after voting has occurred. Both types of surveys have become fixtures in democracies, and especially in media reports of elections. They are used both to learn which candidates will win and to explain the intent of voters and the meaning of elections. While one can find examples of the use of polls in earlier elections, scientific pre-election polls began in the mid-twentieth century, and exit polls developed in the 1960s. This chapter reviews the historical and methodological development of both types of polls, their importance to the understanding of elections, and measures that have been used to regulate or limit their use.

Pre-election and exit polls ...

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