An image depicting the varied responses in political polling. (Illustration: Tim Foster/Capitol Weekly),
ANALYSIS: The public opinion polling industry in many ways is at a crossroads. For years public polls were run with live telephone interviews using a system of “random digit dialing” or RDD, which allowed a poll to be based on samples which would be naturally balanced since all potential voters had the same probability to be administered a phone survey.
Telephone poles with their land-line wires fade into the sunset of a California highway. (Photo: Ethan Daniels.)
For decades, polling relied on a strong pool of easily reached voters with a traditional land-line telephone. Before caller-ID became prevalent, nearly every call was answered as long as someone was home. But now more voters are untethered from traditional phones (I haven’t had a land line since 1998), and those who do still have them complain that most incoming calls are from telemarketers.