Tuesday Seminar – 30 March

What about modes? Differences Between Modes in the 21st Century’s Electoral Polls 

Claire Durand (Université de Montréal)
Timothy P. Johnson (University of Illinois at Chicago)

The 21st Century has seen an important transition in survey modes used for electoral polls. This transition has not ended yet. It is thus possible to examine differences between modes used in the same election. Different modes are more or less prone to social desirability and use different sampling frames and recruitment strategies that may lead to differences in estimation. In this paper, we examine differences between modes across 15 elections and referendums that took place since 2005 in Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the United States. We first assessed differences in average estimates, variance, trends and forecasts. We then pooled the data to analyze whether there are differences that apply in all contexts and over time. In this paper, we focus on the difficulties associated with pooling data from very different contexts. We conclude that differences between modes vary with context and over time. There are some consistent differences however as online polls are less likely to detect movement than are telephone or IVR polls. In a context in which online polls are becoming dominant, citizens may not be provided with a reliable portrait of the state of public opinion. IVR polls tended to be more precise than other polls recently, but they also tended to have a conservative bias. For the future, it will be important to monitor closely new developments in the methodology used for election polls. The presence of multiple modes in pre-election polling and new developments in mixed modes would be beneficial to voters and researchers alike. 

Contact Semih Çakır if you would like to participate in the seminar.

This content has been updated on 12 April 2021 at 9 h 33 min.