Is Polling Good for Democracy?

Jan. 26, 2023

Public opinion polling is the ultimate democratic process; it gives every person an equal voice in letting elected leaders know what they need and want. But in the eyes of the public, polls today are tarnished. Recent election forecasts have routinely missed the mark and media coverage of polls has focused solely on their ability to predict winners and losers.

In his new book, Strength in Numbers, data journalist G. Elliott Morris argues that the larger purpose of political polls is to improve democracy, not just predict elections. Whether used by interest groups, the press, or politicians, polling serves as a pipeline from the governed to the government, giving citizens influence they would otherwise lack.

G. Elliott Morris is a data journalist and US correspondent for The Economist, where he writes on a range of topics including American politics, elections, and public opinion.