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Online Deliberative Polling

Online Deliberative Polling is an extension of a well-established methodology (Deliberative Polling, created by James Fishkin) that measures opinion change within a random scientific sample of the public. Central to this methodology is an opportunity to discuss the issues with fellow citizens and question a panel of leading experts. The first experiment in Online Deliberation Polling took place January 2003 as a prominent part of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions' By the People project.

By the People: America in the World is an initiative created by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions to enhance the national conversation on important issues of the day. Major funding for BTP is provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Additional funding comes from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. BTP is nonpartisan and does not support any particular policy, position or viewpoint. Its sole purpose is to encourage informed dialogue.

How Does a Deliberative Opinion Poll® Work?

A random sample of citizens in a defined geographic area are called and given a brief survey that establishes their demographic and attitudinal profile. This makes it possible to figure out if those who eventually attend the Citizen Deliberation are representative of the larger sample. After the survey, the citizens are invited to attend a Citizen Deliberation event. Often, to minimize barriers to participation, citizens are told they will be paid a stipend for their time. Those who say they will come to the event are sent balanced background materials.

The participants come together for a day, and are randomly assigned to moderated small groups to discuss the issues. As part of their small group discussions, they develop questions to ask a balanced panel of experts on each issue. At the end of the event, they fill out another survey. The citizens' changes of opinion from before and after their deliberation are analyzed. These results are shared with the larger public and with opinion-leaders and policy-makers. These informed views often challenge the conventional wisdom about public priorities and concerns.

Resource Link: www.pbs.org/newshour/btp/articles/events_dop.html



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