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March 31, 2005

Disclosing Party ID: American Research Group

Here is another response to my query to pollsters who do not typically report party identification in online releases to explain that policy.  Today we hear from Dick Bennett, president of the American Research Group (ARG):

We have provided party registration or party ID for almost all of our political surveys posted online and because of your post, we will include it for all our political surveys posted online. 

Our interviewing system has a look-up function by area code which places a party registration question ("Are you currently registered to vote as ...") in the screen (at the beginning of the survey) for states with party registration and a party ID question ("Do you consider yourself to be ...") in the screen for the other states. Party registration and party ID from this process get combined in national surveys.

We are currently asking a political party point-of-view question near the end of surveys and the responses to that question show much more survey-to-survey movement than the registration question (which is very stable) and the ID question (less stable). I can't tell you if it is the question or question order.

[Emphasis added]

Thank you, ARG. 

It is important to note that what ARG does, as explained above, is very different from the way other pollsters ask about party ID.  ARG asks about party registration on some states, party identification in others and then combines the two results into a single variable.  Whatever the merits of this approach, the will results not be comparable to those of other polling organizations. 

Party registration is not the same as party identification - respondents will sometimes provide a different answer when asked how they are registered as compared to which party the feel closer to.  In states that require it, some voters may choose a party affiliation in order to cast a ballot in a contested primary when they "consider themselves" independent or even closer to the other party.  In southern states, this phenomenon has a name - the Dixiecrat - which describes those who register as Democrats in order to vote in local primaries in areas where Democrats almost always win local general elections.

My own firm often asks about both party registration and party ID, often in the same survey (e.g. Are you registered? [If yes] are you registered as a Republican, Democrat or independent?  Now regardless of how you are registered, do you consider yourself...?].  The results are often quite different.  Those tempted to weight by party identification to match statistics for party registration provided by election officials risk introducing serious bias into their results.

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Related Entries - Weighting by Party

Posted by Mark Blumenthal on March 31, 2005 at 07:51 AM in Weighting by Party | Permalink


It can be ok to adjust for party ID even when party ID varies over time, as long as it varies more slowly than the survey response of interest. We discuss further at http://tinyurl.com/4t3ay

Posted by: Andrew Gelman | Apr 2, 2005 8:24:22 PM

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