Polling, Put Simply

Political polls are surveys conducted in order to predict the results of an upcoming election. In the UK, they usually involve 1000-2000 participants, although this number is sometimes higher. The people being surveyed are asked who they are planning to vote for, or, in referenda, what option they are voting for, as well as how likely it is that they will vote. Their gender, age and place of residence, amongst other factors, are then taken into account so that the company conducting the polling can ensure that the poll is representative of the population as a whole. In Britain, there is an array of polling firms, from well-known ones like YouGov and Ipsos MORI to lesser known companies such as Panelbase and TNS. As well as asking questions about peoples’ voting intentions, these companies also ask other political questions, such as who the respondents think would make a better prime minister. Occasionally, they pose questions completely unrelated – polls on issues ranging from religion to Eurovision have also been produced in the last year.

However, the reputation of the British polling industry has suffered greatly in recent years. There were 6 separate polls conducted partially or entirely on 22 June, the day before the EU referendum took place. 4 of these polls predicted the Remain side winning, while only 2 of the polls predicted, accurately, that the Leave side would win.

Similarly, on 8 November, every single aggregate poll tracker was predicting that Hillary Clinton would win the popular vote by margins ranging from 1.9% to 5.3% and that she’d also win the Electoral College vote – but only the first prediction was right.

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Executive Orders, Put Simply

Executive orders, often controversial, but not uncommon. Since 1789, more than 13,000 executive orders have been issued in total, being utilised by every President from George Washington to Donald Trump....but what are executive orders, and how do they work?

An executive order is “an order a rule or order issued by the president to an executive branch of the government and having the force of law.”

Although the United States Constitution does not specifically permit the President of the United States the right to issue executive orders; Article II of the Constitution does grant to the President, “executive power”, this quite ambiguous phrase has been interpreted by Presidents through history to be the creation of the right to issue executive orders.

There are many reasons for executive orders to be created, but one of the most prominent is to ensure that a law, which may not pass Congress, is enacted. This is one of the reasons that executive orders are often so controversial; they are utilised to pass controversial laws.

Congress has no legal avenue to reverse an executive order they dislike, only the judiciary has the power to perform such an action. Three examples of this are

1. Truman’s 1952 order, preventing strikes during the Korean War by placing all of America’s steel mills under federal law.

2. Clinton’s 1995 order, preventing the federal government from entering into contracts with companies/businesses that hire replacements for workers on strike.

3. Trump's travel ban on individuals from certain Middle Eastern countries was rejected, and hence paused, recently by federal judges.

There is only one other way for an executive order to be reversed, an avenue that again lies in the White House’s corridors of power. A new administration can legally scrap any executive order of a previous administration.

There is no doubt that executive orders will continue to be controversial, but there is also no doubt that they will continue to be a part of American politics for many years to come.

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