Spotlight

2014: Internet Polling’s Moment?

National Journal
Steven Shepard
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Steven Shepard
Jan. 8, 2014, 6:50 a.m.

We’ve writ­ten at length about the rap­id changes in the ways in which Amer­ic­ans com­mu­nic­ate and the im­pacts on polit­ic­al pro­fes­sions, par­tic­u­larly sur­vey re­search­ers. But Tues­day brought two fresh ex­amples of the way the in­dustry is re­act­ing to those changes — ex­amples that rep­res­ent a stark de­par­ture from pre­vi­ous polling con­ven­tions.

— Pub­lic Policy Polling, the pro­lif­ic Demo­crat­ic robopoll­ster, an­nounced Tues­day that 20% of their in­ter­views will now be con­duc­ted via In­ter­net, in an ef­fort to reach the more-than 40% of Amer­ic­ans without land­line phones. We’ve long been crit­ic­al of PPP for ex­clud­ing cell-phone-only voters, and, des­pite the usu­al caveats about opt-in In­ter­net polls (and oth­ers about mixed-mode sur­veys com­bin­ing more than one meth­od­o­logy), this seems like a step in the right dir­ec­tion.

— The oth­er (more sig­ni­fic­ant) story comes from Glen Bol­ger and Trip Mul­len at Al­ex­an­dria, Va.-based GOP polling shop Pub­lic Opin­ion Strategies. In a story for Cam­paigns & Elec­tions, Bol­ger and Mul­len out­line the ex­per­i­ments POS has been con­duct­ing with mo­bile sur­veys — that is, polls com­pleted via mo­bile app, which they say “of­fers an in­ter­act­ive ex­per­i­ence for the re­spond­ent that’s not pos­sible over the phone or even through on­line re­search. The ap­plic­a­tion al­lows sur­vey re­search­ers to har­ness mo­bile device cap­ab­il­it­ies like touch screens, built-in cam­er­as, and GPS po­s­i­tion­ing.” (The most en­ter­tain­ing part of Bol­ger and Mul­len’s piece: The pho­tos voters send when asked to take a snap­shot on their phones of something that re­minded them of the two polit­ic­al parties!)

— While POS and oth­er firms are start­ing to do lots of work on­line, this work is viewed more as a sup­ple­ment to their in­creas­ingly-ex­pens­ive, call-based phone polls. In oth­er words, the horse-race tele­phone poll isn’t go­ing any­where, even as Amer­ic­ans in­creas­ingly re­place land­lines with cell phones (and re­place cell phones with smart­phones that sup­port these kinds of apps). “I see them as dif­fer­ent products with dif­fer­ent ob­ject­ives. I don’t see how, today, from the work we’ve done in 2013, they oughta be blun­ted in­to one sur­vey re­sponse,” POS’s Bill McIn­turff said last year. “The polit­ic­al poll­sters will be the last, last, last people on the phones.”

Web- and mo­bile app-based polling will al­ways be ana­thema to some in the sur­vey re­search com­munity be­cause they es­chew the prin­ciple of prob­ab­il­ity sampling — the idea that every mem­ber of the sampling frame (re­gistered voters in Vir­gin­ia, for ex­ample) has an equal chance of be­ing se­lec­ted to par­ti­cip­ate. But every house­hold doesn’t have a home phone any­more, and call­ing cell phones is — in some cases — pro­hib­it­ively ex­pens­ive. It’s clear that non-prob­ab­il­ity web and mo­bile re­search is pro­gress­ing — on two tracks. Pub­lic and me­dia polls are us­ing opt-in In­ter­net and mo­bile sur­veys to re­place more ex­pens­ive, live-caller ef­forts. PPP joins Rasmussen Re­ports and Sur­vey­USA in do­ing cell-only sub­samples via the In­ter­net, and the As­so­ci­ated Press and Re­u­ters have already moved en­tirely on­line. On the cam­paign side, In­ter­net and mo­bile polling is in­creas­ingly a ma­jor tool for ad and mes­sage test­ing and oth­er sup­ple­ment­al re­search, but the ba­sic horse-race, brush­fire poll mod­el re­mains the dom­in­ant mode, des­pite rising costs.

What We're Following See More »
SAYS TRUMP JUST ATTACKING REPUBLICANS
Former Top Aide to McConnell Says GOPers Should Abandon Trump
2 days ago
THE LATEST
“YOU CAN’T CHANGE HISTORY, BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT”
Trump Defends Confederate Statues in Tweetstorm
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE
CEOS HAVE BEEN FLEEING FOR THE EXITS
Trump to End Business Councils
3 days ago
THE LATEST
FROM STATEMENT
McConnell: “No Good Neo-Nazis”
4 days ago
THE LATEST
NO FORMAL LEGISLATIVE EFFORT
CBC Members Call for Removal of Confederate Statues from Capitol
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are reviving calls to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol following the violence at a white nationalist rally in Virginia." Rep. Cedric Richmond, the group's chair, told ABC News that "we will never solve America's race problem if we continue to honor traitors who fought against the United States." And Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson said, “Confederate memorabilia have no place in this country and especially not in the United States Capitol." But a CBC spokesperson said no formal legislative effort is afoot.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login