MethodsMarch 31, 2017

Are Telephone Polls Understating Support for Trump?

An experiment comparing responses to 27 questions fielded on both a telephone and a web survey found no significant mode differences in overall opinion about Trump or many of his signature policy positions.

MethodsFebruary 16, 2017

A basic question when reading a poll: Does it include or exclude nonvoters?

Opinion polls in the U.S. can address the same topic yet reach very different results. There are several reasons this can happen, but we tackle one of the most basic: Did the poll include or exclude the 45% who didn’t vote in November?

Fact TankOctober 25, 2016

Oversampling is used to study small groups, not bias poll results

As oversampling and its possible effect on presidential polls are spotlighted ahead of Election Day, learn more about this practice and how pollsters adjust for it.

MethodsOctober 24, 2016

Cellphone Activity Flags

As telephone interviewing costs continue to rise and cellphones represent an increasing share of survey samples, survey researchers are exploring approaches to make these designs more cost-effective.

Fact TankOctober 17, 2016

Putting post-debate ‘flash polls’ into perspective

In the aftermath of presidential debates, there is intense interest in gauging “who won.” How can we know the answer to that question?

Fact TankSeptember 8, 2016

5 key things to know about the margin of error in election polls

Some of the better-known statistical rules of thumb that a smart consumer might think apply in polls are more nuanced than they seem. In other words, as is so often the case in life, it’s complicated.

MethodsSeptember 7, 2016

Text Message Notification for Web Surveys

By Kyley McGeeney and H. Yanna Yan Text messaging has grown in popularity in recent years, leading survey researchers to explore ways texts might be used as tools in the public opinion research process. In the U.S., at least, researchers must obtain consent from respondents before they are permitted to send an automated text. This […]

MethodsAugust 1, 2016

Flashpoints in Polling

Many people wonder: Can polls be trusted? The following essay contains a big-picture review of the state of polling, organized around a number of key areas.

MethodsAugust 1, 2016

Moving Without Changing Your Cellphone Number: A Predicament for Pollsters

By Meredith Dost and Kyley McGeeney Each year about 36 million Americans move residences, according to the Census Bureau. And they quite often take their cellphone numbers with them. Others have not moved but bought their cellphone in a different state. The net result, according to new Pew Research Center estimates, is that 10% of […]

Fact TankJune 16, 2016

In the age of big data, survey research will not only survive but thrive

The next frontier of public-opinion research is already visible in the “big data” revolution. Through the digital traces of our everyday activities, we are creating a massive volume of information that can tell us a lot about ourselves. Smart data science can identify patterns in our behaviors and interests. And in some domains, such as […]