Understand Polls

Conducting opinion polls is very popular in the United States. A newspaper, a magazine, a TV station, or a professional polling organization asks a representative group of Americans several questions to determine what their opinions are about a given topic. The pollsters choose men and women of different ages, occupations, and races in the same proportion that these groups are found in the population. Sometimes, however, a random sample is taken which picks people by chance.

Polls are especially popular around election time because everyone wants to know which candidate is ahead in the race and what the voters think about the key issues of the campaign. There are three well-known polling organizations that measure public opinion on a variety of topics: Louis Harris and Associates, the Roper Organization, and Gallup International Research Institutes.

There have been a number of polls on the topic of sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) in the United States. SUVs are extremely popular with Americans, even though they are more expensive to drive because they generally do not get good gas mileage. Polls show that one reason for their popularity is that owners of SUVs feel that they and their families are safer in these large vehicles than they would be in other cars. However, studies have shown that SUVs may roll over more easily and may therefore be more dangerous than people originally thought. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety organization asked the Harris polling organization to survey attitudes about the safety of SUVs and other vehicles. One of the questions was “The next time you purchase a new vehicle, would you like to see information posted on a window sticker about the likelihood of a rollover, or would you not like to see that information on a window sticker?”

HOW KEY GROUPS FEEL ABOUT THE IDEA OF

POSTING INFORMATION ON THE WINDOWS OF ALL NEW CARS

INDICATING THE LIKELIHOOD OF THE VEHICLE TO ROLL OVER

Favor

Oppose

Not Sure

%

%

%

NATIONWIDE

83

14

3

Bv Reqion

South

88

9

3

East

86

12

2

Midwest

79

17

4

West

77

18

5

Bv Race/Hispanic

Non-Latino Black

93

6

1

Latino

91

8

1

Non-Latino White

80

16

4

Bv Gender

Women

87

8

5

Men

79

19

2

Bv Annual Household Income

$25,000 or less

90

8

2

$25,001-$50,000

83

13

4

$50,001-$100,000

82

15

3

$100,000 and over

71

23

6

Bv Vehicle Ownership

SUV

84

12

4

Pick-up truck

83

15

2

Other passenger car

83

13

4

Van

82

15

3

Source: Survey of the Attitudes of the American People on Highway Safety, conducted for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety by Louis Harris Research Group. Inc., June 2004

Examine the poll results and answer the following questions.

1. Who thinks it is more important to have the rollover information on a window sticker—men or women?

2. According to this poll, do you think people who own SUVs are much more concerned about rollovers than those who own other vehicles?

3. Are Americans who live in the West more or less interested in rollover stickers than people who live in the South?

4. Which ethnic/racial group appears most concerned about the danger of rollovers?

5. Which socioeconomic group appears the least concerned—those who make the least money, or those who make the most?

Many Americans who own SUVs have a lifestyle that is child-centered. In his book, The Clustered World: How We Live, What We Buy, and What It All Means About Who We Are, Michael J. Weiss describes sixty-two distinct American lifestyles, or clusters of behavior. The cluster with the highest percentage (3 percent) is called “Kids & Cul-de-Sacs.” —

It’s not uncommon for parents to put in fifty miles a day carpooling their kids to after-school karate classes, piano lessons, and soccer practices.

Residents are twice as likely as average Americans to own minivans and sport-utility vehicles. For leisure, these Americans are more likely than the general population to throw barbecues, watch videos, and play board games. … A typical Saturday night involves pizza and videos with the kids.

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Kids & Cul-de-sacs Lifestyle

Updated: 18th July 2015 — 3:16 pm