A political analyst reviews statistical data pertaining to election results, polls and opinions and attempts to make predictions about upcoming political events and trends. Many of the people employed in this field work for political parties or organizations while others are employed by academic institutions or media companies. In some instances, these professionals attempt to influence the electorate while other analysts are non-partisan and concentrate on interpreting events rather than trying to foster change.
Most people employed in this field have graduated from college and aside from taking undergraduate degree courses, many of these individuals have also completed masters or even Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs in political science, international relations, sociology or related topics. While studying these subjects, students learn about political theorists such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Locke, as well as the political structures that exist in nations around the world. Additionally, many of these college courses include history classes during which students learn about the impact that past economic and political decisions had on various populations around the world.
Someone employed as a political analyst by a party or organization is tasked with advising politicians during the policy making process. These individuals can draw on their knowledge of past events and make suggestions about ideas that may prove popular and warn politicians to steer away from concepts that have proven unproductive in the past. Prior to an election, a political analyst may take part in canvassing activities, during which the electorate are surveyed. Analysts review reports that detail the opinions of voters and advise candidates on how they can take advantage of popular opinion. In many instances, electoral candidates change their stated policies on the basis of reports that are prepared by analysts.
Aside from formal political groups, many analysts are employed by so-called think tanks which consist of groups of people who are united by a common set of goals or beliefs. Typically, these groups attempt to influence political leaders to change laws that govern tax rates, prison sentences, civil rights and other types of issues. A political analyst working with one of these groups must produce reports that detail the benefits of adopting the group's proposals. Such reports may be based on surveys and other types of statistical data that seem to imply that a region or nation will somehow benefit from political change.
While many analysts are partisan, others work as commentators and offer opinions on elections and other events. These individuals may appear as panelists on news shows, or write columns in newspapers or journals. Some university professors often adopt a similarly neutral role during classes and lectures. These academics may analyze information without encouraging their students to assume a particular political position.