British Journal of Political Science

Research Article

Considered Opinions: Deliberative Polling in Britain

a1 Department of Government, University of Texas, Austin
a2 National Centre for Social Research, London.


This article presents the results of the first Deliberative Poll, in which a national British sample discussed the issue of rising crime and what to do about it. We describe Deliberative Polling and its rationale, the representativeness of the deliberative sample, the extent to which the participants acquired factual information about the issue and about politics generally, and how much and how they changed their views. We also weigh the extent to which such changes of view hinge on small group influences versus information gains.


a An earlier version of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology, Vancouver, Canada, 1996. The ‘Power and the People’ Deliberative Poll on rising crime was co-sponsored by Channel 4 Television and The Independent newspaper. Among others too numerous to cite individually, we especially wish to thank David Lloyd, Andreas Whittam Smith, Fiona Chesterton, Julie Hall, Robert Kingston and Colin Hughes for their roles in making the Deliberative Poll possible. Rebecca Gray, then of SCPR, played an invaluable role in drafting the questionnaire, administering the sampling and recruitment, and gathering and preparing the data. We are also indebted to Loïc Blondiaux, Norman Bradburn, Henry Brady, Danielle Bütschi, Daniel Gaxie, Sybille Hardmeier, Richard Johnston, Stanley Kelley, Hanspeter Kriesi, Nonna Mayer, Russell Neuman and Jean-Luc Parodi for comments and to Christopher Bratcher, Han Dorussen and Dennis Plane for research assistance. Deliberative Polling is a registered trademark, and the Center for Deliberative Polling at the University of Texas at Austin, of which Fishkin is Director and Luskin Research Director, receives fees from the trademark to fund research. (The trademarking has been necessary to ensure that everything described as a Deliberative Poll meets certain standards.) We are grateful to the Public Policy Clinic, also of the University of Texas at Austin, for support. Much of the analysis and writing were done while Luskin was being supported by the University Research Institute of the University of Texas at Austin and housed as Chercheur Associé by the Centre d'Etude de la Vie Politique Française of the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, Paris.