Political Polling By Phone Can Be Challenging

Sep 12, 2018

Credit wkyufm.org

Political polling has been a commonplace practice for years, initially only with individual candidate camps.  Today, public polling on political races through phone calls is also very common.  But challenges come with the diminishing number of landline phones and unanswered cell phone calls.

A Herald-Leader report this week regarding the 6th Congressional District race between Andy Barr and Amy McGrath noted a 1.7 percent response rate.  University of Kentucky Political Scientist Tiffany Barnes said it still can be reflective of what voters are thinking.

“It’s not the case that the 1.7 percent of  people who responded to their polls were more educated than everyone else.  It’s not the case that they happened to all be women, or that they didn’t reflect the demographics of society,” said Barnes.

Even with its challenges, Barnes doesn’t envision any major move away from phone polling.   She doesn’t see a move to, say, email polling.  “I think that email polls would over-represent people who have desk jobs, people who work at a computer for a living, right.  But, people who don’t sit in front of a computer all day, people who maybe are involved in manual labor, or in the service industry, are far less likely to be responsive to emails,” added Barnes.

Barnes says a larger sample group could help enlist a larger number of responses.  The political science professor says face-to-face polling is considered cost prohibitive.