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Opinion Poll vs. Exit Poll: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 1, 2024
Opinion Poll is a survey to gauge public opinion on various topics, usually conducted before an event or decision. Exit Poll is a survey of voters taken immediately after they have exited the polling stations, primarily used to predict election outcomes.

Key Differences

An opinion poll is a method of collecting public opinion on a variety of issues, including politics, economics, and social matters. These polls are conducted before an event, such as an election, to gauge the public's sentiments and preferences. In contrast, an exit poll is specifically conducted as voters leave the polling station, focusing on understanding how they voted in a particular election to predict the outcome before official results are available.
Opinion polls are used by various organizations, including media, political parties, and research groups, to understand public opinion trends over time. They can cover a wide range of topics and are not limited to elections. Exit polls, however, are narrowly focused on elections and are conducted only on the day of the election, providing immediate insights into the electoral process and voter behavior.
The methodology of an opinion poll usually involves random sampling of a population, conducted over a period, either through face-to-face interviews, telephone calls, or online surveys. Exit polls are more time-sensitive and are conducted in a short time frame, usually through face-to-face interviews with voters as they leave the polling station.
The purpose of an opinion poll is broader, aiming to capture the pulse of public opinion on various issues, and can influence public discourse and policy-making. Exit polls are primarily used for media coverage on election days to project winners and analyze voting patterns, though they can also provide insights into voter demographics and issues that influenced their votes.
Opinion polls can influence public perception and voter behavior, as they reflect the prevailing sentiments in society. On the other hand, exit polls are crucial for understanding the immediate reaction of voters to the election, serving as an early indicator of the election results, and can set the tone for post-election analysis.

Comparison Chart

Timing of Conduct

Conducted before an event, like an election
Conducted immediately after voters leave the polls


Gauge public opinion on a variety of topics
Predict election outcomes and analyze voter trends


Random sampling, multiple methods
Time-sensitive, face-to-face interviews


Broad, covers various topics
Narrow, focused on a specific election

Use in Analysis

Influences public discourse, policy-making
Media coverage, early election result prediction

Opinion Poll and Exit Poll Definitions

Opinion Poll

Opinion poll involves collecting data on people's views and preferences.
Media outlets frequently conduct opinion polls to track political trends.

Exit Poll

Exit poll is a quick method to gauge the outcome of an election.
Political analysts eagerly awaited the results of the exit poll for early predictions.

Opinion Poll

Opinion poll is a survey of public opinion on various issues.
The latest opinion poll shows a shift in public attitude towards environmental policies.

Exit Poll

Exit poll is a survey conducted immediately after people vote.
The exit poll suggested a close race between the candidates.

Opinion Poll

Opinion poll is a tool for measuring public mood and perspectives.
The opinion poll indicated a growing concern about economic inequality.

Exit Poll

Exit poll aims to understand voter behavior and election trends.
The exit poll provided insights into which issues mattered most to voters.

Opinion Poll

Opinion poll is a method to gauge public sentiments before an event.
An opinion poll predicted the outcome of the referendum accurately.

Exit Poll

Exit poll involves interviewing voters right after they cast their ballots.
Exit polls are crucial for media outlets on election night.

Opinion Poll

Opinion poll is used to understand societal trends and opinions.
The government commissioned an opinion poll to assess public reaction to the new policy.

Exit Poll

Exit poll is used to predict election results before they are officially announced.
The accuracy of the exit poll was confirmed when the final vote count was revealed.


What is the main purpose of an exit poll?

The main purpose of an exit poll is to predict the outcome of an election.

How is an opinion poll conducted?

Opinion polls are conducted using various methods like telephone interviews, online surveys, and face-to-face interactions.

What is an opinion poll?

An opinion poll is a survey conducted to understand public opinion on various topics.

What topics do opinion polls cover?

Opinion polls cover a wide range of topics including politics, social issues, and economic trends.

When are exit polls conducted?

Exit polls are conducted immediately after voters have voted in an election.

Can opinion polls influence voter behavior?

Yes, opinion polls can influence public perception and potentially voter behavior.

How often are opinion polls conducted?

Opinion polls are conducted regularly, depending on the purpose and the organization conducting them.

Can exit polls be conducted for referendums?

Yes, exit polls can be conducted for referendums as well as elections.

How quickly are exit poll results available?

Exit poll results are typically available shortly after the polls close on election day.

Do media organizations conduct their own exit polls?

Yes, many media organizations conduct their own exit polls for election coverage.

How have opinion polls evolved over time?

Opinion polls have evolved with technology, incorporating online and mobile survey methods.

How reliable are exit polls?

The reliability of exit polls can vary depending on methodology and sample size.

Can opinion polls predict election outcomes?

Opinion polls can indicate trends, but they are not as immediate or specific as exit polls in predicting election outcomes.

Are exit polls always accurate?

Exit polls are not always 100% accurate but are generally a good early indicator of election results.

Who uses opinion polls?

Opinion polls are used by media outlets, political parties, researchers, and policy makers.

What information do exit polls provide?

Exit polls provide information on how different demographics have voted and the key issues influencing voters.

Do opinion polls reflect the entire population?

While opinion polls aim to be representative, they may not always capture the entire population's views.

Are opinion polls used in academic research?

Yes, opinion polls are often used in academic research to study public opinion and societal trends.

What challenges do exit polls face?

Exit polls face challenges like sample bias, respondent honesty, and logistical issues on election day.

Can exit polls influence people who haven't voted yet?

In some cases, early release of exit poll results can influence people who haven't voted yet, which is why they are often released after polls close.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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