The illusion of public opinion : fact and artifact in American public opinion polls /

Main Author: Bishop, George F.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Lanham, MD : Rowman & Littlefield, c2005.
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Review by Choice Review

Exit polls and postelection surveys fuel the various interpretations that inevitably follow American elections. These reports, Bishop argues, also create the illusion of an informed public with crystallized opinions when, in fact, there is nothing more than widespread public ignorance. In addition, there are several contextual problems contributing to the illusion of public opinion: closed versus open question forms, ambiguous wording, and sequential placement. These problems, however, are well known to survey experts--but they are not the intended audience (though they would do well to heed at least some of Bishop's suggestions in chapter 9 for improving public opinion measurement.) Bishop (Univ. of Cincinnati), a seasoned and shrewd analyst of opinion data, directs his book to "educated consumers" in the hopes they will develop "a more skeptical appreciation of the art and science of public opinion polling as it is practiced today." This carefully crafted, thoughtful, enlightening book joins a rapidly expanding literature critiquing such basics as the nature, role, and quality of public opinion; see, for example, Scott Althaus's Collective Preferences in Democratic Politics (Ch, Oct'04, 42-1221 ) and Adam J. Berinsky's Silent Voices: Opinion Polls and Public Representation in America (CH, Nov'04, 42-1854). ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All students of public opinion. E. C. Dreyer emeritus, University of Tulsa

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.