I'm curious about whether political parties pay survey companies for public opinion data. I could imagine, for example, the American parties having a consultancy relationship with Gallup or something. On the other hand, perhaps these activities are all carried out by think tanks, who do the work and transfer the information to parties, but maintain an degree of independence.

In general, I am trying to get a sense of the size of the market for political opinion data. Preferably, I'd like to understand that market in Canada, but I imagine that far more information is available for the United states.

Do you know examples of companies selling political opinion data? Can you cite examples that would be indicative of the size of this market?

  • Not precisely on point, but the business model of polling companies is that political polls are basically a marketing tool used to generate firm reputation and name recognition that are a loss leader, while they make their real money doing private and confidential market research polling.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 21:27

2 Answers 2


According to this:


The direct hiring of pollsters by political parties in Canada is legal.

"It is also pointed out that, while journalists, for obvious reasons, are not allowed to work for political parties, no such restrictions are placed on pollsters.(32)" Under "Polling and Regulation".

I suspect given that it was deemed worth mentioning that, such relationships might well be going on. It might be suggestive that they are especially likely to exist that the "Bandwagon" effect mentioned was also deemed worth including in this account by someone in the executive branch.

That said, I've been over a few Canadian pollsters' websites and haven't seen any mention of political parties in case studies or clients. Perhaps refusing such relationships is a matter of professional decorum that is adhered to, regardless of it's legality? Perhaps simply keeping quiet about such relationships is a matter of professional decorum that is adhered to? I suspect the latter more likely, but maybe I'm paranoid.

As far as think tank funding though? Yes, think tanks everywhere (to the best of my knowledge) get politically motivated funding from political parties, individuals, business and investment interests and might then carry out polling by funding surveys by another party, so that indirect market seems possible.

  • Very helpful. From the document you linked: In the 19-month period between April 1990 and November 1991, over $10 million was reportedly approved by the Department of Supply and Services (which acted as a coordinating agency) and spent by the federal government on opinion surveys, an amount that does not include contracts awarded directly by individual departments Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 5:26

In the US, political parties usually hire firms for in-house polling, in order to gather data that will help them allocate resources and plan out campaigns. The data from these polls is not usually available to the public; it's considered proprietary to prevent the other parties and candidates from sussing out campaign strategies. The polls we see in public are usually independently funded: mostly by reputable firms and news organizations looking for proper forecasting data, occasionally by groups looking to skew or obscure trends in public opinion.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .