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How public opinion surveys came to play a major role in policymaking and politics.
Where to Start: Public Opinion
Many university libraries subscribe to at least one public opinion database. Check your library holdings for Roper Center, Polling the Nations,Gallup Brain, or others. There are some publicaly/freely available sources as well. For the reference desk, the Pew Research Center (and related projects) is good starting point for current, topical public opinion statistics.
Pew Research Center conducts many public opinion surveys. Start with “Topic” to browse statistics or search questions across Projects including: The Internet & American Life Project, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Pew Hispanic Center, and others.
The Roper Center maintains an archive of public opinion survey data--including from the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), Gallup, Los Angeles Times Polls, exit polls and others. Includes some non-U.S. data as well. Allows users to search survey questions (iPoll) or download data directly (Roper Express). Requires subscription.
GSS "conducts basic scientific research on the structure and development of American society with a data-collection program designed to both monitor social change within the United States and to compare the United States to other nations. Contains a standard 'core' of demographic, behavioral, and attitudinal questions, plus topics of special interest. Many of the core questions have remained unchanged since 1972 to facilitate time-trend studies.
Global Barometer project combines a common module of questions from the African, Arab, Asian, and Latino barometer surveys. While representing only a selection of the questions asked in the regional barometer surveys, these data are available for online analysis allowing for significant cross-national comparisons.
"The Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project conducts public opinion surveys around the world on a broad array of subjects ranging from people's assessments of their own lives to their views about the current state of the world and important issues of the day."
"Polling the Nations is an online database of public opinion polls containing the full text of 600,000+ questions and responses, from 18,000+ surveys and 1,700+ polling organizations, conducted from 1986 through the present in the United States and more than 100 other countries around the world."
The World Values Survey is administered to nationally representative samples covering values and perceptions of life, the environment, work, family, politics and society, religion and morale, and national identity, as well as demographic characteristics. Download data files or analyze online.