Interpreting Survey Results

When the results of a survey or poll are published, the sample size and the margin of error should both be given. For example: 1000 voters were surveyed and 39±2% of the voters agree with the president. In this example N=1000 and the margin of error (MoE) is 2%.

This website lists several public opinion polls. Search the site and find a poll where the sample size and margin of error are given. Try to find a poll dealing with a topic in your profession or one in which you are really interested.

http://www.pollingreport.com

Main Post: Determine the following information for the selected poll results and include in your initial post. See Example I have attached.

  1. URL for the website. State the poll question, the sample size n, and the margin of error (also known as sampling error).
  2. Interpret the results of your poll using your own words and full sentences. Note: Depending on the question asked, your poll may have more than one poll result – you only need to discuss one result.
  3. State the confidence interval using the MoE. What does this confidence interval estimate?
  4. Use the Confidence Interval template (I have attached) to calculate the confidence interval based on the sample size and the number of successes (the proportion you are interested in). Use a confidence level of 95%.
  5. What is the calculated confidence interval? How does this compare to the interval in part 3 using the poll’s margin of error?
  6. Discuss potential biases that could skew sampling results.

1) Opinions about Hydraulic Fracturing (“fracking”) were surveyed nationally during March 2016. These survey results
can be found at: http://www.pollingreport.com/energy.htm

The question posed was “”Do you favor or oppose hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ as a means of increasing the
production of natural gas and oil in the U.S.?”

Sample size, n =1,019 adults nationwide. Margin of error ± 4.

2) 36% were in favor of fracking as a method for increasing our energy resources in the US
51% were opposed of fracking as a method for increasing our energy resources in the US
13% were unsure of their opinion on fracking for increasing our energy resources in the US

3) The confidence interval for each result is found by adding/subtracting the MoE from the result.

In favor: (36 – 4%, 36 + 4%) = (32% – 40%)

4) & 5) Using the Excel template, I will enter the
following variables:

Sample size = 1019
Proportion of sample = 36%
Confidence Level = 95%

Confidence Interval is (0.3304 – 0.3896) or
(33.04% – 38.96%)

6) I can imagine many biases that would affect the results of this survey. The first bias might be in the selection of
recipients of this survey. A selection bias might be present if the sample selection is not representative of the general
population. A sampling error might be present as well as is what the margin of error represents, for this case, 4%. We
do not know what organization sponsored the surveying process and analysis. If the sponsoring organization was a
fracking company, this could present an ethical question about the results. These are just a few considerations for
theses survey results.

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