October 16, 2014


I just got political polled! So of course I have to record and report on the experience. It was based out of Christopher Newport University and randomly targeting Virginia residents in the age range 18-39. I'm curious how they got my number, because as a cell phone with a 309 area code (originating in western Illinois), this wouldn't be on any naively compiled list. That's actually very reassuring to me with respect to the legitimacy of polls, because with a mobile population that increasingly isn't bothering to change their cell number when they move (because why would they?) and certainly isn't bothering with land lines, it suggests that they're still able to construct a somewhat complete sample space.

The poll followed a fairly standard format, with some broad questions, some agree/disagree questions, and the demographics at the end (to prevent question fatigue on the questions they actually care about). I had minor objections to some of the phrasing of the multiple choices (e.g. a pure liberal/conservative binary), but I think they're fairly standard and can't really fault them for using them. I did object to the fact that the poll worker (a student, I think) mispronounced the governor's name---McAuliffe---as "McAwful", twice. I even called her on it, and she did sound surprised and a little embarrassed, so I think it may have been unintentional (it is a natural metathesis of the name) and there was nothing else in the questions to suggest that it was an opposition push poll (indeed, given the construction of the poll, I'm almost certain it wasn't), but it was still a little obnoxious. Perhaps with my correction she'll get it right for the rest of her shift, at least.

Now for the questions. These are all paraphrased, but I don't think I missed any, and they are in order.

  1. Is the country headed in a good direction, or a bad direction?
  2. Is the commonwealth [i.e. Virginia] headed in a good direction, or a bad direction?
  3. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Terry McAuliffe is doing as governor of Virginia?
  4. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as president of the US?
  5. Would you say you follow political coverage (very closely | somewhat closely | not closely | not at all)?
  6. Would you rate your likelihood of voting in this November's election as (certain | likely |etc)
  7. Who do you plan to vote for in the senate race? (presents three options, Lib/Rep/Dem, with name and party affiliation)
  8. Who did you vote for for president in 2012? (Obama, Romney, other)
  9. What would you say is the most important thing for the elected senator to work on in the senate? (open answer)
  10. The next batch were all agree/disagree/neither:

  11. My generation faces more economic challenges than my parents' generation.
  12. My political involvement is important.
  13. My generation can affect policy more than my parents' generation.
  14. My voice doesn't matter.
  15. The government is working to solve problems that affect the country.
  16. I pay attention to political coverage and commentary.
  17. Then one more multiple-choice question:

  18. How different would you say that the two major political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, are? (very different, somewhat different, pretty much the same)
  19. Then the demographic questions:

  20. What is the highest level of education you have attained? (free response)
  21. Do you have any student loan debt?
  22. Do you view student debt as a (major problem | somewhat of a problem | not a problem) for the country?
  23. Do you identify as Hispanic/Latino?
  24. Do you identify as (American Indian | etc | White Caucasian | some other ethnicity not listed)?
  25. What year were you born?
  26. Religious affiliation? (protestant | catholic | jewish | muslim | other)
  27. Do you politically identify as (strong liberal | somewhat liberal | moderate | somewhat conservative | strong conservative)?
  28. Do you identify as a Democrat, a Republican, or an independent?
  29. Do you identify as a member of the Tea Party?
  30. Is your marital status best described as (married | living with partner | separated | divorced | widowed | never married)?
  31. Is your employment status best described as (fully employed | employed part time | retired | not actively seeking employment)
  32. What was your approximate household income last year? (with options given in $25K buckets, and much disclaiming about not having to answer this one)

So, I got polled.

"Facebook's valuations are being driven by large amounts of investor money injected into the Zynga symbiote, who throws nine figures a year at Facebook to continue identifying new pieces of brain matter to feed to their mad cows." --patio11

Posted by blahedo at 5:01pm on 16 Oct 2014
Did you give a phone number when you registered to vote? In-district polls are much more likely to be based on voter files. (As opposed to national polls, where a call on your cell is probably due to Random Digit Dialing). Also, it's really reassuring that I'm not the only one who gets absurdly excited about getting polled. Posted by Anna Novikova at 10:53am on 18 Oct 2014
Ah, that's possible. Posted by blahedo at 4:00pm on 18 Oct 2014
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