Pew Center provides poll information for election season

By BOLTON LANCASTER

Public opinion polls seem to receive the most national attention when the country is preparing for or in the midst of a presidential election, and the lead-up to November 2012 is no exception.

The Pew Research Center (pewresearch.org) is a “nonpartisan fact tank that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world,” serving as an important online source to obtain poll data for both potential voters and journalists alike as the political race heats up.

Although the Pew Research Center provides national polls and analysis for a number of diverse subjects, its focus is largely centered on politics during times when voters are looking for information. Some of the stories that currently highlight the website’s home page include whether Obama or Romney have led a more successful social networking campaign, the effects of a Democratic Party that accepts gay marriage more today than eight years ago, and even a political party quiz that viewers can take to see where they sit on the political spectrum.

While data obtained from the Pew Research Center can be worked into political stories in a number of ways, graphics from the site also effectively display the results of their polls. In addition to graphs, the site uses a number of other visuals to help compliment their stories. For example, a recent poll showed that the public now believes that some of the best one-word descriptions of Mitt Romney include “honest,” “businessman,” and “rich.”

A year ago, the same poll showed that most people simply identified Romney as “Mormon.” To go along with the story, the site created a graphic that showed the most common responses and whether they were positive, negative, or neutral.

One of the plus sides to the Pew Research Center is not simply the large amount of raw poll data, but its in-depth analysis. Instead of just throwing up numbers on a bar graph, its experts explain what the results mean. They are also able to remain largely unbiased in their articles since they do not take any policy recommendations.

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