Polling FAQs

What is a public opinion poll?

A poll is a type of survey or inquiry into public opinion conducted by interviewing a random sample of people. That sample, in order to reflect the most accurate representation of a larger population, should reflect the age patterns, gender, voter affiliation, etc. of the entire group be profiled.


What’s a random sample?

A random sample is the result of a process whereby a selection of participants is made from a larger population and each subject is chosen entirely by chance.


Why haven’t I been asked to participate in a national poll?

According to the US Census, there are more than 200 million adults in the U.S.,  and  polls generally include responses from 600-1,000 people. If there are 3,000 national polls completed in a given year, that’s only three million people…IF no one took more than one poll.  So…the odds of being called in any given year are just over 1 in 100. Don’t hold your breath.


Why should I participate in an opinion poll?

Public policy decisions are being made on an extraordinarily frequent basis. There are all sorts of interest groups and lobbyists who are making their positions known to those who are making important decisions. The public opinion poll provides an opportunity for the voices of the common man and woman to be heard. The influence that you wield is magnified enormously when you answer questions in public-opinion polls.  So answer the darn phone and let us know what you think!


How accurate are your polls?

We’re justifiably proud of our polls. We Ask America has produced polls that have predicted results in elections as close as one-tenth  of one percent, and we have a track record of predicting winners & losers that no other pollster predicted. But NO pollster is right all the time. By design, polls offer results that are correct to their margins of error 95% of the time. Outlier polls are par for the course…but they are the exception rather than the rule. Conducting  a series of tracking polls are the best way to smooth out those bumps.


Which are better: interview polls or automated polls?

That depends. We Ask America conducts both, and both have their place. Traditionally, interview polls ask more questions to fewer people and cost considerably more than automated polls. Automated polls can have a huge number of responses (we’ve conducted polls of up to 70,000 responses!), and cost about one-tenth the price of interview polls. Interview pollsters have been publicly skeptical of their automated counterparts…and automated pollsters have proven their worth by being more accurate of late. We encourage clients to combine automated polls with focus groups for accurate results and a deep understanding of the underlying themes.