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The Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls Hardcover – September 1, 2008

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  • The Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this succinct and damning critique of the pitfalls of public opinion reporting, Moore (How to Steal an Election), former senior editor of the Gallup Poll, argues that today's polls report the whims rather than the will of the people due to an intrinsic methodological problem: poll results don't differentiate between those who express deeply held views and those who have hardly, if at all, thought about an issue. Thus, respondents are compelled to provide an ill-considered, top-of-mind response because the method does not offer the option of expressing no opinion. In Moore's view, forced-choice polls not only distort public opinion, they create a legitimacy spin cycle, which damages U.S. democracy by manufacturing a public consensus to serve those in power. Keen and witty throughout, his prose turns bitter as he condemns journalists, insisting they are fully aware of the polling flaws but turn a blind eye because they like sharply divided groups and extreme reactions. However correct his claim and justified his outrage, his proposed antidote—that the media ought to enlighten its audience to its own ignorance—feels more like a pipe dream than a practical prescription. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


You will never regard political polls the same after reading David W. Moore's devastating inside account of their severe limitations and misapplications. This book should be required reading for journalists, political junkies, students, scholars and citizens.—Robert W. McChesney, author of The Political Economy of Media

"The next time your phone rings with questions from a pollster, beware. David Moore rings an alarm bell that democracy is endangered by the way the news media use public opinion polls. In chapter and verse, he exposes how false and misleading polling practices actually create public opinion and this, in turn, influences what government does. The Opinion Makers demonstrates what James Madison said two hundred years ago-a misinformed public becomes a threat to democracy."—Ben H. Bagdikian, author of The New Media Monopoly

"The account of how news stories drive polls should make us stop and ask whether the close relationship between the newsroom and polling operations is perhaps a bit too close. A must read."—W. Lance Bennett, director, Center for Communication and Civic Engagement University of Washington, Seattle

"We all know that the corporate press conducts its own opinion polls and keeps headlining the results as if such stuff were news. What we don't know is just how sloppy-and misleading-most of that work really is. In this important book, veteran pollster David Moore uses many harrowing examples from the recent past to meticulously note the many defects in such polling."—Mark Crispin Miller, Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at
New York University, and author of Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform

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Beyond your wildest dreams
From DC & Neil Gaiman, The Sandman arises only on Audible. Listen free with trial

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