Summary of the Reading
In his article Why the 1936 Literary Digest Poll Failed, Squire writes that in 1936, Literary Digest published a forecast that predicted the defeat of Franklin D. Roosevelt in that year’s presidential election. The prediction was based on a telephone survey of some 2 million people (Squire, 1988). At the same time, the Gallup Institute conducted an opinion poll that predicted that Roosevelt would win, which he did. The reasons for the Digest fiasco have been examined in many studies. There was a serious bias in the structure of the original sample, low returns, and the inability of polling technology to capture the dynamics of the electorate’s opinions. Squire also writes about the inaccurate way that Literary Digest resorted to analyzing the information (1988). The telephones were mostly in possession of wealthy people, most of whom opposed Roosevelt George Gallup’s small but correctly organized sample pointed to the true result.
A Shortcoming of the Reading
The author’s conclusion that a shift in responses in today’s polls could lead to a disaster of the type that occurred in 1936 should be considered unfounded. His evidence, which is based on an analysis of how detrimental the effects of biases in sampling can be, is not convincing enough. In the modern world in democracies, most surveys are constructed in such a way as to avoid prejudices. Especially since much time has passed between the time the article was written and the time the poll was taken. Since then, the polling system has changed a lot and has become more transparent.
Questions After the Reading
The question I had after reading the article was, what are other known cases in which polls by sociologists have given wrong results? I was also interested in the extent to which the failure of Literary Digest predetermined the further development of the science of polling. It is clear that after what happened in 1936, new functions of public opinion began to emerge, and new purposes for monitoring it began to develop (Squire, 1988). I need to comprehend whether there is a strong correlation between the creation of new survey techniques and methods of measuring it and the error of the Digest.
Squire, P. (1988). Why the 1936 Literary Digest poll failed. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 52(1), 125-133. Web.