Understanding and Interpreting Opinion Polls (International)

Sometimes poll results differ. Would you know why and how this happens? Data from opinion poll studies regularly make the news. Reported poll results give the public a voice and let citizens know how others in society feel about current events. But if you’re not a statistician it can be difficult to report on polls in an objective and unbiased way. This is why AAPOR, ESOMAR and WAPOR together launched a free online learning module for journalists.

This course will help anyone who is not a market researcher understand how polls are conducted, what to look for in methodology and why even the most legitimate of polls sometimes miss the mark. When you are finished you should know which questions to ask about polls, where to look for answers and why it is important.

With examples from all around the world, this international course on Interpreting and Understanding Polls is hosted on the Poynter website. You can register for a free account on this website and enrol.

Upon completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Appreciate the value of solid polling data
  • Understand the science of polling
  • Identify the elements of a valid poll
  • Interpret the methods box of a poll
  • Analyse the quality of questions
  • Identify appropriate sample groups
  • Understand weighting and its value
  • Evaluate polling agencies and sponsors
  • Understand some of the key issues arising in different countries

It was developed by an international expert team, including:

Adam Phillips

Adam Phillips
Consultant to ESOMAR Professional Standards and Chair ESOMAR Legal Committees


Alejandro Moreno

Alejandro Moreno
Professor of Political Science, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM), Director of public opinion polling at Reforma newspaper, WAPOR Past President


Kathy Frankovic

Kathy Frankovic
Consultant to CBS and YouGov, ESOMAR Professional Standards Committee Member


Kathy Joe

Kathy Joe
Director, International Standards & Public Affairs, ESOMAR


Michael Traugott

Michael Traugott
Research Professor Emeritus, Center for Political Studies, Professor Emeritus, LS


Scott Clement

Scott Clement
Polling Manager, The Washington Post, AAPOR Education Committee Member