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Gallup conducted a poll recently measuring where the Democratic Party stands in the public’s opinion. They released the article, “Democratic Party Favorable Rating Falls to Record Low” on 12 November 2014 that highlighted both the Democrats’ and Republicans’ rating, compared to their ratings since the question was first asked in 1992. Although the Democrats have clearly lost favorability, the Republicans have shown little signs of improvement, indicating that the people are not satisfied with their government as a whole. The poll was taken November 6-9, following the midterm elections that greatly favored the Republicans. The article mentions the rise of the Democratic Party after President Obama’s re-election and its decent during the term, brought on by various mishaps on behalf of the Obama administration. The poll presented is one of the most trustworthy, not only because of the crucial aspects reported, but also because of the extra information that is provided to give the reader an understanding of how it was conducted.
The majority of the article is filled with how much the Democratic Party’s favorability has dropped over the years, to their record low of 36 percent. As mentioned before, after President Obama’s re-election, the rating was peaked at 51 percent (Dugan 2014). This drastic change is due to difficulties seen during the presidency, such as the international crises and the negative response to Ebola in the United States, to name a few (Dugan 2014). The poll was taken to see where the parties stand in the public’s eye, with the results showing that Americans are greatly dissatisfied with their government, which includes both parties.
The poll was conducted by telephone, split evenly among cell phone and landline users. 828 people over the age of 18 were questioned, 430 were men while 398 were women. The phone calls were made through random digit dialing. The survey methodology attached to the article stated that the samples were “weighted to match national demographics.” This extra information removes any doubt of whether certain groups were left out, or specifically included. The sample size is rather small for the question asked, but the weighted samples make up for the lack in numbers.
The question wording is a great factor in how the individual answers (Kollman 2014, 309). The wording in this instance was as follows, “We’d like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of these people — or if you have never heard of them” (Jones and Saad 2014). The names of government officials were then listed, in random order of their party affiliation. This allows for the individual to not associate the official with a specific party, focusing solely on their name. The answer option of “haven’t heard of them” could provide an issue. The individual could choose this just to make the survey end sooner, if they are impatient or don’t have much time. The margin of error for this poll was + 4 percent with a confidence level at 95 percent (Jones and Saad 2014). The mention of the confidence level is the extra information provided to assure the reader of the effectiveness of the poll.
The article states in the conclusion that the Democrats now have a “battered image” (Gallup 2014), which shifted from the GOP. The Republicans’ position among the people is mentioned as favorable, but not strong. Depending on what the leaders do within the next few years, the party could either follow the Democrat’s footsteps, or gain massive support throughout the country (Dugan 2014).
Neither the article, nor the supplemental attachment about the methodology explains if the government officials’ party affiliation was mentioned. This would change the answer of the individual being surveyed. If it were not mentioned, then the individual would hopefully provide a non-biased opinion. However, if it was clearly known as to who belongs where, the individual could provide the answer after only hearing the party, rather than the name. Americans’ attitudes about the government is easily pictured based on the poll, but one would like to know the reason why one party is so greatly favored over the other. A follow-up question asking about the reasoning would show if the individual is a strong supporter of the party, knowledgeable of the officials’ values and recent decisions or simply fed up with the direction the government is headed.
Mentioned throughout the article is the public’s negative opinion of the entire government. The Democratic Party could use the results of this, among many other polls, to understand their position with the American people. After analyzing it, officials can reach out to the people to understand what could be done better, or differently, to raise the favorability rate. The Republican Party could also use this information to their advantage, even though they are in the lead. The small lead they hold could be much bigger, if the poll was used to understand why the public favors them more, which would be understood by the follow-up question.
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