Despite the negative overall assessment, the poll, which was conducted by the research firm Kantar, also demonstrated the public doesn't trust all polls equally. Nearly two-thirds say they trust surveys conducted by academic groups, and over half trust those by non-partisan foundations.
Public opinion polls faced heightened criticism throughout the 2012 presidential election, but final pre-election polls proved quite accurate in the end, according to a report by the National Council on Public Polls. The average candidate error in national polls -- how much a poll missed the Obama-Romney margin, divided by two -- was on average 1.46 percentage points. Americans didn't award the showing; pollsters only received an average "C+ grade" in a post-election Pew Research Center poll, with just 49 percent of respondents giving pollsters an "A" or "B."
Regardless of the levels of trust in specific polling sources, people generally agree that polls are a good way for elected leaders to learn about what people think on important issues. Nearly three quarters say conducting polls is a good thing for their leaders to do and two thirds say they should at least be reading the polls if they are not conducting them.
Peyton M. Craighill contributed to this report.