Robo-Polls: Taking Cues from Traditional Sources?

16 Pages Posted: 26 May 2012  

Joshua David Clinton

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science

Steven Rogers

Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: May 3, 2012

Abstract

After the 2012 Republican New Hampshire primary, there were 159 poll results released prior to the subsequent nomination contests. More than two-thirds of these polls relied on “Interactive Voice Recognition” (IVR) software. In this research note, we evaluate the ability of polls to predict the vote-share for the Republican candidates Romney, Santorum and Gingrich. We find no difference in the average accuracy of IVR and traditional human polls, but IVR polls conducted prior to human polls do significantly worse than traditional human polls even after controlling for characteristics of the states, polls, and electoral environment. These findings provide suggestive evidence that pollsters may take cues from one another given the stakes involved. If so, reported polls should not be assumed to be independent of one another and so-called “poll-of-polls” will therefore be misleadingly precise.

Keywords: Elections, Polling

Suggested Citation

Clinton, Joshua David and Rogers, Steven, Robo-Polls: Taking Cues from Traditional Sources? (May 3, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2066850 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2066850

Joshua David Clinton (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science ( email )

VU Station B #351817
Nashville, TN 37235-1817
United States

Steven Rogers

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1012
United States

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