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Find Data: Public Opinion Polls & Social Surveys

Use this guide to locate public opinion data and gather information on societal and cultural attitudes on a wide variety of topics. The guide points you to the most frequently used, relevant, and rich data sources for these topics.

Begin Your Research

Use this guide to locate popular sources for locating public opinion and social survey data.

Outlined below are good starting points for tracking down public opinion data. Explore the U.S., multinational and international pages for more detailed information.

Polling the Nations
Polling the Nations is an online database of public opinion polls containing the full text of 600,000+ questions and responses, from 18,000+ surveys and 1,700+ polling organizations, conducted from 1986 through the present in the United States and more than 100 other countries around the world.

Roper Center Public Opinion Archives
The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research is one of the world’s leading archives of social science data, specializing in data from surveys of public opinion. The data held by the Roper Center range from the 1930s to the present. Most of the data are from the United States, but over 50 nations are represented. Roper data providers include data from nearly every major organization that conducts polls in the United States today, including academic, media, foundation, non-profit and private industry pollsters. 

Pew Center for the People & the Press
Polls on politics, policy and media. Pew data is also available through the Roper Center.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)
ICPSR maintains a data archive of more than 500,000 files of research in the social sciences. It hosts 16 specialized collections of data in education, aging, criminal justice, substance abuse, terrorism, and other fields.  ICPSR has a large number of public opinion polls and social surveys in its collection.

How to Interpret Poll Results

Wondering how to interpret poll results? Read, “20 Questions a Journalist Should Ask about Poll Results” for better understanding.  This is an excellent general overview and you don’t need to be a journalist to read it!  Very easy to follow.  Check out the Roper Center Polling Fundamentals page for background information on using polling data.

For further reading, search the Library Catalog using the keywords “public opinion” or “social surveys” to find more books and e-books on this topic.

Related Guides

Citing Data - This guide provides detailed information and examples on how you should cite data in your research.

Find Data: Census and Demographic Data - This guide provides recommended access points to census data.

Find/Use Data: ICPSR - Learn how to find and use data from the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR).

Presenting Data - (via George Mason University Libraries website): Information on and books and articles about rules to follow when presenting data in the form of charts and graphs.