Numbers Don't Lie Until They Do

December 26, 2015

While Gallup’s inaccuracies came as a shock to the political community, they are representative of a bigger problem: the inaccuracies of phone polling, which have only gotten worse. Traditional polling by landline phone has grown more difficult as fewer people are responding to phone surveys; yet, there are still no solid alternatives to phone polling.

Today, landline responses have dropped to eight percent, Considering that only 18 years ago the response rate was 36 percent, this decline in response rate is disturbing. One poll can cost up to five figures, a price that is only going up as response rates go down. According to Cliff Zukin, professor of political science at Rutgers University and former president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, the lack of response is growing because people are “tired of being solicited on the phone. … As more and more people have grown up and only known cell phones, they figured that if the landline rings in their household, it can’t be for them, it’s a solicitation.”

Harvard Political Review, December 26

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