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last updated: 10/24/2011

Polls: A Brief Guide to Published Opinion Polls

The purpose of this guide is to assist students in locating polling information in the IUB Libraries? print and digital collections. At the end of the guide you will also find some resources offering guidance and standards relating to the design, interpretation and evaluation of opinion polls. One brief statement "Twenty Questions a Journalist Should Ask About Poll Results" is a good beginning.
Polls and Surveys
iPoll Databank
A comprehensive, up-to-date resource for US public opinion data and an excellent finding aid to locate US national opinion  polls rich in a particular subject, with direct links into a catalog of datasets.  Includes academic, commercial and media polls; over one-half million questions and answers; opinions and behaviors; topical coverage from crime to politics to diplomacy to social behavior.  From 1935 to the present.
LexisNexis Statistical
A collection of US public opinion polls which go back to the 1950s. Politics and government, public institutions, international relations, business, social affairs, and consumer behavior and preferences are among the polling topics covered in this index.  Polls from Gallup, Harris, Roper; CNN, New York Times, USA Today and other news media are among those included.  When searching, enter your topic with the term "poll" (i.e., abortion poll). 

Polling the Nations
This resource is beginning to cover other countries in addition to the US. In addition to data from polling companies and news media, it also picks up information from a large number of non-profit organizations conducting polls such as universities. Not all entries, however, are presented in the most complete or desirable format. Covers 1986 to the present. The earlier print version this online resource is entitled American Public Opinion Index (see below). The complete survey information included in the microform set accompanying the American Public Opinion Index is not included in this online version (as of spring 2003).
 Gallup Brain
Gallup Brain is a searchable database of Gallup Poll data from 1935 to the present.  It includes analytical articles on polling results, as well as online access to Gallup Poll Tuesday Briefing and the Gallup Management Journal.


For polls in the news and journalistic accounts of polls
Try keyword searches
for example:
(poll or polls or polling) and (tuition or vouchers)
public opinion and immigration

in many article and newspaper indexes including

The principal journals in polling research are also covered by these indexes and other collections (example: the full text of Public Opinion Quarterly is available from 1937 to 1999 in JSTOR and from 1965 to the present in Academic Search Premier).
Printed sources
American Public Opinion Index
Annual 1983-1998 HM261 .A463 (Wells Library Reference Services Department)
A print index and an accompanying microform set giving complete survey question and response data for many national, state and local opinion polls.

Gallup Poll
Annual 1935- HN90.P8 G17 (Wells Library Reference Services Department)
A cumulative index covers 1935/1971-1972/1977;1978-2008
More titles about public opinion
in the Reference Reading Room
For countries other than the US
Index to International Public Opinion
Annual 1978 - 1998/1999 (HM261.A1 I5 ALF)

And see the notes above about Polling the Nations.

Searching IUCAT
To find books on polls, polling, research and techniques search the Libraries? catalog, IUCAT, using keywords or the following SUBJECT phrases
Public opinion polls
Public opinion--United States [or France, Sweden...]
Other IUB campus resources
Political Science Data Laboratory & Archive
The Data Lab, in Woodburn Hall, manages and funds the University'?s membership to the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) and the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. Through "ICPSR Direct", Bloomington campus users can access and download codebooks and datasets directly from ICPSR, as well as conduct basic statistical analysis of data from, for example, the General Social Survey (GSS) through ICPSR's Special Topics Archive. In addition, the Data Lab also provides Web-based, system-wide access to its data holdings from these and other archives and consortia. Contact the Data Archivist at the addresses listed on the website for further information and assistance.
Other university library websites with useful information
Columbia University Library/ Lehman Social Sciences Library
information on tracking polls, polling organizations, and Canadian and European polls. The IUB libraries own several of the print resources listed in the guide. Check IUCAT.
Harvard's Kennedy School of Government Library: Public Opinion Polls
helpful list of links to leading polling organizations  
Stanford University: Public Opinion A Selective Guide to Library Resources
excellent annotations and explanations of resources
Yale University: Public Opinion Subject Guide
major resources for survey data and questions
This guide is focused on resources to which the Indiana University Bloomington Libraries subscribe. All the major polling companies have websites which can be found with simple searches (example Many of these sites have useful information freely available but much information is available only to subscribers past a certain point. Keep in mind that some of that subscriber information may well be available to you by using Polls & Surveys in LexisNexis Academic Universe and in the other resources described here.
Guides for evaluation of polls and polling
Newsroom Guide to Polls and Surveys
G.Cleveland Wilhoit and David H. Weaver (Bloomington: IU Press, 1990).
HM 261 .W53 1990 (in Wells Library East Tower Reference Collection and Stacks)
Polling and the Public
Herbert Asher (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2007)
HM1236 .A75 2007 (Wells Library East Tower)
ESOMAR Codes & Guidelines
European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research and the World Association for Public Opinion Research
Best Practices for Survey and Public Opinion Research
American Association for Public Opinion Research
For further help with your library research
Ask a Librarian

Revised and updated 10/2011 NG 

5/2003 AB

last updated: 10/24/2011