Because opinion polls are a product of research, there is a possibility that they would be manipulated by the organization in the terms of questions, answers, etc. A bias can be easily created by selecting targeting a certain target group. For example, such as a 2011 AP opinion poll which asked more democrats than republicans. This example shows that the organization were highly biased, thinking that democrats are better than republicans.
Opinion polls are not always accurate and don't always predict outcomes of when people actually vote. It's a very risky assumption to believe in poll results especially too far ahead of actual elections. Polls can mislead voters into believing they don't need to vote because a particular poll says their candidate is already in the lead.
Every time you turn around especially during an election year there is another poll being reported. They report different statistics and they can not be all right or all wrong and yet they deeply influence what people are thinking and probably what their ultimate vote is going to be too.
There is a tendency I think sometimes for people to use group think and in effect go along with the crowd, even if they may personally think differently of someone or something. If someone sees they are in such a minority......they may be apt to switch positions as a result of that. Also.......the media can use these opinion polls to manipulate public views in one direction or another as well....further removing the true right to choose one choice over another.
So yeah in quite a few ways the opinion polls can hurt the democratic process we presently have in America.
Opinion polls are nothing more than that, an opinion. They have no actual weight and if somebody lets it influence them that is there own ignorance. There is no official aspect to those polls, they are completely speculative. They can be detrimental but only because of people being ignorant. You should not let it affect you executing your right to vote.
No, opinion polls do not harm the democratic process. Opinion polls serve the purpose of bringing popular sentiment out into the open where everyone can be aware of it. Candidates then have the option to react by either addressing or ignoring the particular poll. Opinion polls are actually responsible for putting candidates in a position where we learn more about them based on their responses.
This country was founded on freedom of speech, and I think it's important to maintain that. Having our opinions voiced through a public forum like a large-scale poll is a great way to get our feelings out there. Otherwise, we may not be able to generate enough of an audience.