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Examines a fundamental problem for opinion polls and those who use them.


Polls and surveys pervade political and social life in ways that are both conspicuous and subtle. We gauge the success of presidential aspirants by how well they score in polls broadcast on the nightly news. Our political leaders and candidates for every major office study the polls to identify the public’s preferences on controversial policies. The Phantom Respondent’s develops the simple premise that public opinion surveys and polls have become a modern vehicle for political representation, and that, therefore, we must attend to the quality of representation that surveys and polls provide.