As the polling world knows, times—and survey methods—are changing. The rise of cell phones and decline in landline use has had an enormous effect on telephone polling methods. So have internet surveys. The PPIC Statewide Survey has kept abreast of these changes, evaluating and incorporating best practices throughout our 20-plus years in the business. The most recent update involves using online polling techniques for our next survey.
Online polling was initially viewed with great skepticism by experts in the field. However, significant progress has been made in this area. Today, a rigorous online survey using a random probability sample is widely accepted as an alternative to a rigorous live telephone survey using a random probability sample. Our research into this methodology—including extensive conversations with colleagues at peer organizations who are also using online and live telephone surveys, such as the Kaiser Family Foundation, Langer Research Associates, and the Pew Research Center—has provided us with strong assurances of quality.
Last fall, we conducted a simultaneous online and telephone poll to compare our results. We found that the online method we chose yielded results with the same high quality as our telephone polling (which includes both landline and cellphone participants).
This spring, we are conducting our first fully online-only survey, on the topic of Californians and education. This method will allow us to delve into more issues and in greater depth than we do in a live telephone survey. We are excited about this approach and looking forward to the results.
At the same time, the PPIC Statewide Survey will continue to rely on landline and cellphone polling techniques for the bulk of our work for the forseeable future, given the current limits in random probability samples for large online surveys in California and the reliability and proven track record of live telephone surveys.
As we move toward new frontiers, our survey methods will always place quality first and be completely transparent, with clear methodological explanations and detailed results available on our website. Most important, we will continue to provide a voice for all Californians—voters and nonvoters alike—raising awareness, encouraging discussion, and informing policymakers on critical issues of the day.