Rutgers-Eagleton Poll Director: The Future of Public Opinion Polls

December 11, 2019 – Dr. Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP), was recently interviewed by Rutgers TV about the future of public opinion polls.
“Over the past two decades, participation in public polling has dropped precipitously,” Koning said. “During the 2016 election cycle only six percent of respondents agreed to participate in telephone surveys. To gather hundreds of complete interviews, pollsters had to make tens of thousands of phone calls. Pollsters are now turning to online surveys as a more cost and time-efficient way to survey the public – but the ability of online surveys to obtain truly representative responses is hotly debated.”
ECPIP and the Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll recently partnered on a joint survey experiment to explore online capabilities and other methods of accurately surveying the public during this pivotal time in the polling industry. Koning presented the results of the joint experiment at the Pennsylvania/New Jersey chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research’s annual winter meeting. Results included:
  • Online panel survey data can look a lot like telephone survey data, but key differences on important demographics like age, race, ethnicity, and gender still persist
  • The extent of how much results differ between the online and telephone modes depends upon the question and the topic
  • Statewide polling is at a crossroads as telephone phones become more and more expensive but online panels are not yet quite built for statewide purposes