What is deliberative polling?

Traditional methods of researching what the public think are limited. This is because the general public will typically have received little in the way of balanced information, and little chance to think on the issues at hand. One answer to this problem is deliberative polling, which attempts to reveal the conclusions the public would have arrived at after fully digesting the topics of debate.

Under the Deliberative Polling approach, a random, representative sample of the population takes part in a survey about a particular set of issues. They are then invited to attend an event where they are assigned to small groups with trained moderators. The participants are then invited to discuss the topics further, but discussions are guided by the content of balanced briefing materials on the issues at hand that have been prepared by a panel of experts. When the discussions have run their course, each group has the opportunity to present questions to the panel of experts and engage in a closing session.

By presenting participants with the same questions, it is possible to measure any changes in opinion amongst participants and thereby reveal what their answers are after having had a chance to think and discuss the issues at stake.