Who listens to the polls? (and a link to a four-year-old rant)

Daniel Lippman sent me this article, which states, “A dose of perspective for the poll junkies out there: 45 percent of Americans say they ‘have not read or heard anything about public opinion polls about the upcoming presidential election.’ That’s according to a new poll (what else?) from AP and Yahoo!”

The circularity of this reminded me of a study I heard about a few years ago (when reviewing an article for a journal, I think it was Public Opinion Quarterly) where people were polled and asked, “How many times were you surveyed in the past year?” That particular study was trying to get at the idea of the country being divided between “professional survey participants” who actually answer these surveys, and the rest of us who just hang up.

I’m one of the hanger-ups myself, but I justify it by feeling that this just creates more job opportunities for statisticians who analyze missing data. Anyway, I think there are too many polls.

2 thoughts on “Who listens to the polls? (and a link to a four-year-old rant)

  1. I don't hang up when the pollsters call, but I make them promise to answer some of my questions when we're done — questions about where they are, how much they get paid, do they have another job, what they estimate their hang-up rate to be and what affects it, how other people are responding, and maybe something specific to the questions in the survey. You find out how the sausages are actually made.

  2. Just answering polls and other surveys can be educational for a statistician: ambiguous questions, overly long, repetition are problems in many surveys. In an attempt to quickly complete a survey consisting of very open-ended questions the interviewer kept suggesting responses. I wondered if anyone had given any thought to how this would be analysed or attempted a pilot.

Comments are closed.