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July 02, 2012 1:00 PM The National Election Study, General Social Survey, and Current Population Survey Use Face-To-Face Interviewing

By Andrew Gelman

In writing about the difficulties of survey nonresponse, a problem that is well known to survey researchers but perhaps not to the general newsreading public, Sasha Issenberg discusses face-to-face interviewing, which is how all the polls used to be done. As he points out, “The only researchers who stuck to knocking on doors were those like the Census and American National Election Studies, which had long questionnaires, deep budgets, and a goal of covering the entire population. For everyone else, polling—especially with the introduction of automated touchtone surveys—became something that could be done cheaply, widely, and often.”

Personally, I always hang up on pollsters.

P.S. In case there was any confusion: I thought Issenberg’s article was just fine. His article focused on news and campaign polls and I just wanted to point out that some academic and government surveys still use face-to-face sampling (a point that, as noted above, Issenberg himself clearly notes).

[Cross-posted at The Monkey Cage]

Andrew Gelman is a professor of statistics and political science and director of the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University.
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