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How Many Calls Per Minute?

Topics: 2008 , Disclosure , The 2008 Race

Last week, the InsiderAdvantage poll released new surveys of 6,357 likely Republican primary voters in five states all conducted in just two nights, October 2-3, 2007. This feat prompted reader Chantal to ask some reasonable questions:

Maybe I'm missing something, but how many phone calls per minute do you have to make in order to get 1,339 likely Republican caucus attendees [in Iowa] over the course of just two nights? What kind of incidence rate are we talking about?

And this doesn't take into consideration the fact that InsiderAdvantage was also polling in four other states these evenings. Who is paying for this? Are these robopolls? Was the call center in the North Poll?

I forwarded Chantal's question to InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery, along with a request to provide answers to our Disclosure Project questions for the Iowa survey.

Regarding the number of calls made, Towery replied on Saturday that he does not have "the exact number on a weekend, but clearly they are [in the] thousand[s]." He added, "we have a very high completion rate on these because we ask only a very few questions."

Towery did not mention that his surveys typically sample from lists of registered voters and make use of past vote history to help select "likely voters," so that they need to screen out relatively few contacted respondents.

How many interviewers would it require to complete 6,357 interviews with likely Republican primary voters? In the absence of a more specific answer from Towery, we can guess, but the answer will depend on a variety of issues involving how the poll was fielded: The exact length of the interview, how many "unlikely" voters they terminated, how many "call backs" they made to phone numbers yielding no answer on the first dial, whether they called during the day or just during early evening hours and whether they used a "predictive" auto-dialer that waits until a human being answers the phone before connecting an interviewer (something many pollsters avoid but that can certainly boost interviewer productivity).

Given the sort of incidence that InsiderAdvantage reported for their recent Florida survey and the variables mentioned above, a single interviewer might be able to complete anywhere from 5 to 15 interviews per hour. If we assume the more conservative estimate of 5 an hour, such a survey could require roughly 1300 interviewer hours. If we assume they dialed during evening hours only, the project would require somewhere between 100 and 150 interviewers. That's not an implausible number, especially if the interviews were farmed out to more than one call center. And obviously, any number of compromises in methodology (daytime interviewing, predictive dialers, and so on) could enable completion of a project like this with far fewer interviewers.

As for the question of who is paying for the interviews, Towery had this reply:

We are, as I noted, owned by a holding company (Internet News Agency, LLC) which is comprised of investors including the family owners of one of the nation's largest privately owned newspaper chains, the largest privately held real estate development fund in the Southeast, as well as numerous other investors. We employ some of the region's top journalists such as Tom Baxter, former national editor and chief political correspondent for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Hastings Wyman, founder of the Southern Political Report in D.C.; Lee Bandy, 40 year political editor for The State newspaper in South Carolina and the like. I myself am syndicated by Creators Syndicate, the largest independent newspaper syndication company in the nation. We also have a non-political research/consulting divisions with clients primarily composed of Fortune 500-1000 publicly held companies, as well as large associations, such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce. We started in January of 2000 and were founded by a Democrat and a Republican. I hope this sheds some light on who we are and how and why we are able to poll so frequently.

Readers - does this information answer your questions?

PS: Other than the answers above, I have received no response from Insider Advantage to our Disclosure Project questions regarding their Iowa poll.

 

Comments

Can you give us some ballpark figures about what an effort like this costs a client? And, if it's not giving away any trade secrets, how much it costs the pollster?

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