Polls do have an effect on those who see or hear the results. Sometimes these effects are direct, as people change or adjust their attitudes and opinions based on what they think other people believe. Other times, these effects are indirect, arising because candidates cannot raise enough money to stay in a race, for example, and therefore voters never have a chance to give them serious consideration. The impact of polls on poll consumers is considered in virtually every chapter in this book, and special attention is devoted to this topic in chapters 9 and 10.
BOGART, LEO. 1985. Polls and the Awareness of Public Opinion. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction.
This book contains a broad and useful discussion of the way in which the widespread use and acceptance of polls has changed public debate in the United States and the relationship between citizens and the leaders they elect. Bogart was a president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, and the basic ideas in this volume were part of his presidential address in 1967. Almost twenty years later, they are more fully expounded in a volume that looks at polls, politics, opinion research, and public policy.
Bogart covers important changes in polling methods as a result of basic research and changing technology. Because of his long association with the newspaper business, Bogart focuses on the relationship between polls and journalism, and how they are used to make news as well as supplement standard reportorial techniques.
CONVERSE, JEAN. 1987. Survey Research in the United States. Berkeley: University of California Press.
This is the essential history of the development of survey research in the United States. It is based on extensive archival research and extended interviews with many of the central figures in the field. The research underlying this work emphasizes both the individuals and institutions that were critical to the development of the survey-based social and policy research enterprise we know today.
The emphasis is ultimately on the major academic research organizations that developed after World War II: the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia; the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago; and the Survey Research Center, now located within the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. In order to get to that point, however, Converse has to trace the path through the commercial survey research firms that developed before and during World War II and in the period just after, including the stories of their leaders: George Gallup, Archibald Crossley, and Elmo Roper.