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Response to Doug Usher

Topics: Humphrey Taylor , Internet Polls , Pollsters

Humphrey Taylor has served as chairman of The Harris Poll, a service of Harris Interactive, since 1994.

Thanks to Doug Usher for his contribution to the debate on the panel-based online methodology for political polling. I am glad to see that he acknowledges the value and viability of this method for national polls. But I am puzzled as to why he thinks this method will not work in Congressional races (at least I think that is what he is saying). He writes of the "sour spot" based on the fact that political polls need to reach "a narrow population for which pollsters do not have well defined web contact information".

I assume he means by this that we cannot sample a geographic area because we do not know where people live. Of course we can, and we do this easily. We and others who have large panels, know the states in which people live, so that takes care of senate races.

What about congressional districts?

Some panels also have zip code information, and those that do not can screen for it. In so far as some zip codes straddle the boundary with another district we can screen for streets or even addresses if necessary. And of course this problem is the same ,or possibly worse, for RDD telephone samples ,as telephone exchanges may also straddle the boundaries between districts. Furthermore many people now take their telephone numbers with them when they move from one district to another.

My comment that was quoted by Doug Usher was taken out of context. I certainly believe that online political polling methods are "the wave of the future". My mention of cell phones was specifically in reference to telephone surveys of people aged 18 to 29. I am sorry if that was not clear.

 

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