The Value Of Robopolls

In response to Washington Post polling director Jon Cohen's arguments against automated polling, pollster Mark Blumenthal takes issue with the notion that robopolls aren't as accurate: according to some reliable studies, Blumenthal says, robopolls perform about as well as those in which people ask the questions. (He cites analyses by the National Council on Public Polls, the American Association for Public Opinion Research's Ad Hoc Committee on Presidential Primary Polling for 2008, and others).

Those studies only measured the so-called "horse race" numbers--who people are going to vote for--and not broader issues like what voters care about, which Blumenthal acknowledges. Robopolls usually don't go into as much depth, because they're shorter, because people run out of patience more quickly when talking to a computer. (Robopolls may actually have an advantage, if people feel freer to tell the truth to a computer, Blumenthal suggests.)

A broader issue about the value of automated polls, and their horse-race-only data, is this: as long as people are interested in the horse race, the value of the "horse race" polling of robopolls isn't diminishing. Since the interest is there, Blumenthal suggests, it might be time to stop knocking robopolls for what they are.

Presented by

Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

What LBJ Really Said About Selma

"It's outrageous what's on TV. It looks like that man is in charge of the country."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What LBJ Really Said About Selma

"It's going to go from bad to worse."

Video

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Inside a family's fight to use marijuana oils to treat epilepsy

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

More in Politics

Just In