Regulation of Opinion Polls: A Comparative Perspective

  • Thomas Petersen


If we want to understand the complicated relationship between public opinion research and government authorities, we should start by considering the relationship between survey researchers and journalists. The state, the media and survey research all find themselves in a tense threeway relationship, where each is dependent on the others and each views the other two as a potential threat. The great German publisher Rudolf Augstein once referred to survey research as journalism’s ‘ravenous baby brother’, in that it attempts to break the media’s monopoly on interpreting the current social conditions, thereby devouring a piece of the media’s right to tell the public how the world allegedly looks. ‘We opinion journalists’, he remarked, ‘had gotten used to speaking for entire groups and segments of the population, even for our readership as a whole, and we were certainly prepared – albeit somewhat begrudgingly – to be contradicted every four years when the federal elections came around, but not every month or even every week’ (Augstein 1973, XVIII; cf. Noelle-Neumann 1993a, p. 111). Nevertheless, the media use survey research continuously and with increasing intensity: in fact, the media need survey results as they offer information that their users expect but that cannot be obtained reliably from any other sources.


Survey Research Vote Behavior Opinion Poll Survey Institute Public Opinion Research 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. AAPOR (ed.) (2009) Standard Definitions. Final Dispositions of Case Codes and Outcome Rates for Surveys (No place of publication: AAPOR).Google Scholar
  2. Augstein, R. (1973) ‘Demoskopie und Politik’, in E. Noelle and E. P. Neumann (eds), Jahrbuch der öffentlichen Meinung 1968–1973 (Allensbach/Bonn: Verlag für Demoskopie), pp. xv–xxii.Google Scholar
  3. Barone, M. (2004, October 8) ‘Exit Polls in Venezuela’, U.S. News.
  4. Befani, S. (2005) ‘Italy: Are Telephone Surveys Endangered?’, WAPOR Newsletter (2), 3.Google Scholar
  5. Brettschneider, F. (2005, September 8) ‘Wahlumfragen. Was Journalisten über sie denken und wie sie auf die Wähler wirken’, Informationsdienst Wissenschaft. Press release.Google Scholar
  6. Cain, B. E. (1978) ‘Strategic Voting in Britain’, American Journal of Political Science, 22, 639–655.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Donsbach, W. (1984) ‘Die Rolle der Demoskopie in der Wahlkampf- Kommunikation. Empirische und normative Aspekte der Hypothese über den Einfluß der Meinungsforschung auf die Wählermeinung’, Zeitschrift für Politik, 31, 388–407.Google Scholar
  8. Donsbach, W. (2001) Who’s Afraid of Election Polls? Normative and Empirical Arguments for the Freedom of Pre-Election Surveys (Amsterdam: ESOMAR).Google Scholar
  9. EFAMRO, ESOMAR, WAPOR (eds) (2003) ‘Support for Releasing Iranian Pollsters’, WAPOR Newsletter (1), 2.Google Scholar
  10. ESOMAR (ed.) (1999) Interviewing Children and Young People (Amsterdam: ESOMAR).Google Scholar
  11. ESOMAR (ed.) (2003) Customer Satisfaction Studies (Amsterdam: ESOMAR).Google Scholar
  12. Faas, T. and R. Schmitt-Beck (2007) ‘Wahrnehmung und Wirkung politis- cher Meinungsumfragen. Eine Exploration zur Bundestagswahl 2005’, in F. Brettschneider, O. Niedermayer and B. Wessels (eds), Die Bundestagswahl 2005. Analysen des Wahlkampfes und der Wahlergebnisse (Wiesbaden: Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften), pp. 233–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Friedrich, W. and W. Hennig (eds) (1976) Jugendforschung — Methodologische Grundlagen, Methoden und Techniken (Ost-Berlin: VEB Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften).Google Scholar
  14. Fuchs, D. A. (1966) ‘Election-Day Radio-Television and Western Voting’, Public Opinion Quarterly, 30, 226–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hardmeier, S. (2008) ‘The Effect of Published Polls on Citizens’, in W. Donsbach and M. W. Traugott (eds), The Sage Handbook of Public Opinion Research (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage), pp. 504–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hartenstein, W. (1967) ‘Mit Prognosen leben: Der Einfluß von Wahlvoraussagen auf das Wählerverhalten’, in C. Böhret and D. Grosser (eds), Interdependenzen von Politik und Wirtschaft. Festschrift für Gert von Eynern (Berlin: Westdeutscher Verlag), pp. 285–306.Google Scholar
  17. ICC/ESOMAR (ed.) (2008) ICC/ESOMAR International Code on Market and Social Research (Amsterdam: ESOMAR).Google Scholar
  18. Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach (ed.) (1955) ‘Die Stimmung im Saargebiet. Ergebnisse einer Bevölkerungsumfrage’, Allensbach Archives, IfD Report No. 416.Google Scholar
  19. Jandura, O. and W. Donsbach (2007) ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer. How the Knowledge of Possible Election Outcomes Determines Voting Decisions’, paper presented at the WAPOR Regional Seminar, ‘Public Opinion, Communication and Elections’, Jerusalem and Haifa, June 26–29.Google Scholar
  20. Jandura, O. and T. Petersen (2009) ‘Gibt es eine indirekte Wirkung von Wahlumfragen? Eine Untersuchung über den Zusammenhang zwischen der auf Umfragen gestützten und sonstigen politischen Berichterstattung im Bundestagswahlkampf 2002’, Publizistik, 54, 485–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kepplinger, H. M. (1998) Die Demontage der Politik in der Informationsgesellschaft (Freiburg: Verlag Karl Alber).Google Scholar
  22. Kepplinger, H. M. and M. Maurer (2005) Abschied vom rationalen Wähler. Warum Wahlen im Fernsehen entschieden werden (Freiburg: Alber).Google Scholar
  23. Lang, K. and G. E. Lang (1984) ‘The Impact of Polls on Public Opinion’, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 472(1), 129–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lavrakas, P. J. and J. K. Holley (eds) (1991) Polling and Presidential Election Coverage (Newbury Park, CA: Sage).Google Scholar
  25. Law No 3603 Regulation of Gallup Issues (2007) Government Gazette of the Hellenic Republic, Sheet No. 188. August 8, 2007.Google Scholar
  26. Lazarsfeld, P. F., B. Berelson and H. Gaudet (1944) The People’s Choice: How the Voter Makes Up His Mind in a Presidential Campaign (New York: Columbia University Press).Google Scholar
  27. Mangahas, M. (2001) ‘Address to the WAPOR 2001 Conference, September 21, 2001: Victory for Survey Freedom in the Philippines’, Social Weather Stations Media Release, September 24.Google Scholar
  28. Mendelsohn, H. and I. Crespi (1970) Polls, Television and the New Politics (Scranton, PA: Chandler).Google Scholar
  29. Niedermann, A. (2008) ‘Enforcing Quality Standards and Rules of Professional Conduct of German Market and Social Research by a Board of Arbitration: “Rat der deutschen Markt- und Sozialforschung e.V.”, paper presented at the WAPOR Thematical Seminar, ‘Quality Criteria in Survey Research VII.’ Cadenabbia, Italy. July 10–12.Google Scholar
  30. Noelle-Neumann, E. (1993a) ‘Brüderchen verbrennt man nicht’, Spiegel Spezial, 6, 111–113.Google Scholar
  31. Noelle-Neumann, E. (1993b) The Spiral of Silence: Public Opinion — Our Social Skin (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).Google Scholar
  32. Patterson, T. E. (1993) Out of Order (New York: Alfred A. Knopf).Google Scholar
  33. Petersen, T. (2007) ‘National Representative Report: Germany’, WAPOR Newsletter (1), 5–6.Google Scholar
  34. Petersen, T. (2008a) ‘Why Our Efforts to Establish Quality Criteria May Be Leading Us in the Wrong Direction’, paper presented at the WAPOR Thematical Seminar, “Quality Criteria in Survey Research VII”, Cadenabbia, Italy, July 10–12, 2008.Google Scholar
  35. Petersen, T. (2008b) ‘Election Polls and Forecasts’, in W. Donsbach (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Communication, vol. 4 (Malden, MA: Blackwell), pp. 1487–1489.Google Scholar
  36. Pomper, G. M. (1977) ‘The Decline of the Party in American Elections’, Political Science Quarterly, 92, 21–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rat der deutschen Markt- und Sozialforschung e.V. (ed.) (2006) Beschwerdeordnung. Frankfurt., retrieved October 18, 2010.
  38. Reumann, K. (1983, March 9) ‘Gibt es einen Fallbeil-Effekt für die kleinen Parteien?’, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, p. 4.Google Scholar
  39. Rosnick, D. (2004, August 19) ‘Polling and the Ballot: The Venezuelan Referendum’, cepr Issue Brief.Google Scholar
  40. Sontheimer, K. (1964) ‘Meinungsforschung und Politik. Eine kritische Auseinandersetzung mit den Ansprüchen der “Demoskopie”’, Der Monat, (187), 41–46.Google Scholar
  41. Spangenberg, F. (2003) The Freedom to Publish Opinion Poll Results. Report on a Worldwide Update (Amsterdam: Foundation for Information).Google Scholar
  42. WAPOR (ed.) (2010a) WAPOR Code of Professional Ethics and Practices,, retrieved October 18, 2010.
  43. WAPOR (ed.) (2010b) Guideline for Exit Polls,, retrieved October 18, 2010.
  44. Wilke, J. (2009) ‘Pressegeschichte’, in E. Noelle-Neumann, W. Schulz and J. Wilke (eds), Fischer Lexikon Publizistik Massenkommunikation (Frankfurt: Fischer), pp. 501–535.Google Scholar
  45. Yankelovich, D. (1996) ‘A New Direction for Survey Research’, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 8, 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Thomas Petersen 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Petersen

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations