Journal Article

Polling and Policy Analysis as Resources for Advocacy

Howard P. Greenwald, William L. Beery, Dave Pearson, Sandra Senter, Allen Cheadle, Gary D. Nelson, Karen Bodenhorn and Catherine Horiuchi

in Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory

Published on behalf of Public Management Research Association

Volume 13, issue 2, pages 177-191
Published in print April 2003 | ISSN: 1053-1858
Published online April 2003 | e-ISSN: 1477-9803 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jpart/mug016
Polling and Policy Analysis as Resources for Advocacy

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Between 1995 and 2001, the California Center for Health Improvement (CCHI) initiated eight large‐scale surveys of public opinion and performed policy analyses on issues and alternatives related to population health. A nonpartisan organization, CCHI aimed to advance the understanding of social factors and behavior as determinants of health and promote this understanding as a factor in policy making. Opinions of persons knowledgeable about policy making in California were obtained. Data included ninety brief interviews and twenty‐four in‐depth interviews with key informants who were capable of judging the impact of CCHI's activity. The entry of CCHI into the Sacramento policy community constitutes a natural experiment on the deliberate use of polls and policy analysis to influence policy. Key informants indicated that both polls and policy analysis affect the actions of policy makers. More than 48 percent believed that opinion polls “moderately” affected and 42.2 percent believed that opinion polls “strongly” affected the actions of policy makers. More than 58 percent indicated that policy analysis “moderately” affected and 33.7 percent believed that policy analysis “strongly” affected policy decisions. Effects of polling and policy analysis appeared to vary according to several contextual factors, such as the substantive policy issue, point in the legislative cycle, and perceived neutrality of the poll or analysis. Study findings provide evidence that polls and policy analyses affect policy by helping establish visibility and framing issues rather than determining outcomes. Hypotheses under a contingency model of factors in policy decision making are suggested.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Public Administration

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