NEAAPOR held our re-launch event on October 17th, 2014 in Boston. The title was “The Midterms in New England: Polling Perspectives”. The panel was truly first rate, and covered both the upcoming elections as well as other issues of interest. The audience was a mix of practitioners and consumers, which made for a lively group. Below is an excerpt from the summary written by Brent Benson for WBUR’s Poll Vault. The full summary is well worth a read.
The demand for public opinion polling has never been greater. Once the purview of political operatives, survey results are now consumed by the masses. High information voters receive poll result notifications on their smartphones; polling aggregators such as Huffington Post Pollster update their polling charts and graphs hourly; and news organizations such as FiveThirtyEight and the Upshot use political poll results as inputs to complex probabilistic models attempting to predict election outcomes.
But as the demands for survey results grow, it is simultaneously becoming harder and harder to conduct high quality polls using the traditional and mathematically beautiful survey technique of random sampling. At a meeting last week in Boston of the New England chapter of the American Association for Popular Opinion Research, a group of top-tier pollsters weighed in on the problem.
The keynote for the evening was delivered by AAPOR President Michael Link. He offered his congratulations to our newly reconstituted chapter and explored a number of current topics in polling and survey research. From Brent Benson’s summary.
“We are in a very trying time, some might say,” said Link. “But we have never lived in a time when people have more opportunities to express themselves, and there are more ways for us to measure public opinion than ever before.”
Link said the AAPOR will continue its mission of providing guidance on methods and transparency, while also expanding the organization’s scope beyond surveys to any technique for gauging public opinion, including social media analysis and data mining.
“Whether you are producing or consuming public opinion information, how do you know it is right?” asked Link. He then answered: “Standards and transparency are the key.”
His full remarks can be viewed here.