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How Polls Manipulate Voters, No Matter The Results

votingA new Indianapolis Star poll, conducted with Ball State University, shows 50.2 percent of people in Indiana support providing special nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Indiana’s laws. Reportedly, only 35.1 percent are opposed. That is par for the course on LGBTQ issues, but vote results consistently invalidate such polls, which raises the question: Is the purpose of polling data to convey the views of a representative sample or to engage in marketing tactics to sway views?

Argumentum ad populum is Latin for the idea that because many people believe something to be true, it is true. Closely related is the bandwagon effect in marketing, where marketers attempt to persuade people to purchase their goods and services by claiming “everyone else is doing it.” These strategies aren’t just used to sell goods and services—they are also used to sell politicians and policies.

What’s the best way to show that “everyone else” supports the candidate or legislation? Polling. When polls show a majority of folks favor a policy or candidate, it marginalizes those who disagree with the poll, peer-pressuring them into conformity by making them think their opinions are unpopular, invalid, or irrelevant.

Read more at the Federalist.

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