The obsession to forecast: Pre-election polls in the Israeli press

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The generous coverage of pre-election polls in the media has stimulated a debate on the effects of publicized polls on voters. Data for this study come from a content analysis of all press reports on polls during six pre-election campaigns in Israel (1969-88). The findings highlight the impressive increase of poll reports both by space and by prominence in the press. Analysis of the reports' content reveals that the style of reporting polls has become dominated by "horse-race" journalism, where predictions and popularity ratings are the leading themes. In addition, although the reports have become more detailed and informative, they still do not adequately define or interpret methodological deficiencies. Finally, the analysis examines the intercorrelations between attributes of coverage and predictions errors. The fact that the independent variable, media coverage of polls, has changed significantly calls for the inclusion of this factor in any study of polls' effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-408
Number of pages13
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Volume54
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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