Deliberative Opinion Polls

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Engagement range


Difficulty level

Medium to Hard (reasonable level of skill in communication, media public event organising)


Medium ($1000 to $10,000)  to High (more than $10,000)

When you might use

  • To discover community issues

  • To communicate an issue

  • To develop community capacity

Number of people to organise

A team of people may be required (three to 12)

Audience numbers

 Medium (up to 20). Large (more than 30)


Medium (six weeks to six months) to long (six to 12 months) 


Staff and telephones; Briefing papers; Expert knowledge

Innovation level




Deliberative Opinion Polls (DOPs) measure informed opinion on an issue. Compared to ordinary opinion polls, DOPs differ in that participants are informed via briefing notes and access to experts (these may include politicians) on a particular issue and have time to consider the issue in detail, whereas participants in ordinary opinion polls do not have the opportunity to learn about the issue being measured and may know little about the issue.



To develop well-informed core group representatives, who have been privy to good quality information and who can take this information back to share within the community.


Desired outcome

A report which reflects informed public opinion on an issue or proposal. Such reports may then be distributed to the wider community via the popular media.



The DOP uses a random sample of the population so that the results can be extrapolated to the community as a whole. The DOP advises decision makers and the media what the public would think if they had enough time to consider the issue properly.


Special considerations/weaknesses

  • DOPs involve a large number of participants (between 250 and 600), therefore set-up costs are high.
  • Informing the participants normally requires access to experts in a number of fields of knowledge.
  • Speakers need to be organised.
  • With so many participants’ opinions, managing data is a significant undertaking.
  • Organising and running the event can be time consuming.
  • Organisers need to allow time to select participants, undertake an initial opinion poll, allow two to four days for the deliberation process, and then allow time for another poll, and formulating the report.

Step by step guide

  1. Determine a random sample of the population, so that participants are representative of the wider groups in the community.
  2. Conduct baseline survey of opinion.
  3. Contact experts and politicians who may be required to inform the participants on specific aspects of the issue.
  4. Brief participants and dispatch written information.
  5. Give participants two-four days to compose questions and engage politicians and experts in plenary discussions.
  6. Record views on a particular issue before the poll begins and again at the completion of the poll.
  7. Changes in opinion are measured and incorporated into a report.
  8. DOPs are often conducted in conjunction with television/media companies.


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