On the myth of reported precision in public opinion polls

Many public opinion polls report a mythical margin of error. These reported margins of error are calculated on the basis of a nonexistent (fictitious) dichotomous poll question and are completely unrelated to the actual question responses in a poll.


Public opinion polls are ubiquitous in societies worldwide. They are conducted by, and their results reported and/or consumed by, entities that include governments, media, universities, nonprofits, and companies. As such, polls are used to gauge a pu

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