Political

A very old form of political polling makes a return in the US

Interesting news from the US on how CNN is reacting to the problems the polls had in the 2016 and 2020 US Presidential elections:

The new approach relies on both online and telephone interviews, allowing respondents to participate in whichever way is more comfortable for them, and will use different methods for measuring long-term trends and for reactions to breaking news…

Under the new methodology, CNN and SSRS will carry out polls several times a year using a larger sample and a longer field period than is typically used for news polling. Respondents across the country will be randomly selected based on their mailing address – a process known in polling as address-based sampling – and will initially be reached by mail. Surveys based on such samples will be used to measure long-established trends, such as presidential approval or views on the national economy, as well as to take in-depth looks at critical issues.

These surveys will also be used to establish benchmark measurements of Americans’ political traits, such as party identification, which will then be used in weighting when CNN conducts other types of polling on a shorter time frame.

The sample for the new poll released Friday was selected from a list of all residential addresses in the United States. Rather than randomly generating a geographically balanced sample of phone numbers, potential respondents were selected randomly based on their address and some known characteristics about the area where they live.
Starting from a sample of addresses means researchers know more about who they are trying to reach – and therefore who might not be responding – than they would with just a phone number…

To invite potential respondents to take the new poll, researchers mailed letters to each selected address asking for an adult in the household to take part in the survey. Those receiving the letters had the choice of taking the survey online or calling a dedicated phone number to take the poll with a live interviewer. For a small subset of those addresses, follow-up phone calls were made toward the end of the field period to recruit some of those who had not yet gone online nor called in to take the survey.

The return of polling by post is a call-back to the earlier days of political polling, and is a method that fell into unpopularity due its slowness and cost. Postal surveys have continued to have a major role in ‘gold standard’ social science research where those factors are less of a problem than they are for the low margin, high turnaround time nature of most political polling. Returning to such an approach for political polling is (hopefully) a way of trying to tackle the problem of unrepresentative samples that were a problem in both the 2016 and 2020 US Presidential elections.

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