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May 13, 2005

AAPOR: Day One

As promised, I am reporting to you from beautiful Miami Beach at the first day of the annual meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). 

Earlier this week, I said I would try to provide highlights on whatever seems most "newsworthy" each day.  I will still try to post every day, and some findings may be suitable for quick summary here.  However, after a first session this afternoon, I realize that attempting to digest the substance of this conference blog-style is not a great idea.  First, I am only one person and can only attend one of roughly 5-6 sessions presented in each time slot.  Second, on the topics of greatest interest -- weighting by party identification, non-response bias, cell phone only households, even exit polls -- researchers will present multiple papers.  Commenting on these in a scattershot way is likely to prove very confusing.  I do hope to listen, learn and use what I absorb here as

So for tonight at least, one general impression which needs a brief explanation:

From the beginning, this blog has had something of a two-fold mission:  To explain and demystify what pollsters do, but also to open something of a dialogue between the pollsters -- the producers of political survey data -- and their most rabid consumers in the blogosphere.  So it was particularly heartening that the first comments I heard today from the first speaker (Doug Usher of the Mellman Group) at the first session I attended (on weighting data) spoke directly to the same themes that first motivated this blog (quoting Usher's prepared text which he kindly shared):

Polling is under more scrutiny than ever.  Methods that were once the province of statisticians and highly trained public opinion pollsters are now in the public domain, debated by many with a level of expertise which is - shall we say - outside the margin of error.  Nonetheless, consumers of polls are becoming more familiar with - and more demanding of - sound methodology that ensures the highest level of accuracy in questions of interest.  And this isn't a bad thing...

Today, weighting has become a bigger topic of conversation, though not everyone in that conversation realizes that they are talking about weighting.  Throughout this past election cycle - and continuing through today - news organizations, partisans and blogging poll consumers are demanding to see more demographic data, to scrutinize any "anomalies" in demographic breakdowns.  And such scrutiny extends past political posturing, into survey research that impacts policy decisions across government, business and academic research.

Of course, this is really a debate about weighting. 

And that's not a bad thing either.   It's going to be an interesting conference. 

More tomorrow...er...later today.

Related Entries - General, Polling & the Blogosphere

Posted by Mark Blumenthal on May 13, 2005 at 12:22 AM in General, Polling & the Blogosphere | Permalink

Comments

Some conferences summarize the papers/presentations as thumbnail abstracts, usually written by the authors. Any of that at AAPOR?

Posted by: DemFromCT | May 13, 2005 7:32:25 AM

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