On the Internet, No One Knows You’re an Activist: Patterns of Participation and Response in an Online, Opt-in Survey Panel

47 Pages Posted: 16 May 2023 Last revised: 17 Jun 2024

See all articles by Daniel J. Hopkins

Daniel J. Hopkins

University of Pennsylvania

Tori Gorton

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Political Science

Date Written: June 17, 2024

Abstract

Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in surveys of online respondents who participate absent random selection. Using an uncompensated, opt-in panel of 11,000 Pennsylvanians (2020-2022), we benchmark self-reports against vote histories, campaign contributions, election returns, and Census data. Ours is among the first such benchmarking exercises in more than a decade, a period when online survey research has transformed. It is also among the first analyzing a longitudinal panel. Our panelists are approximately balanced on partisanship; attrition is limited. Notably, respondents are very politically engaged, with high rates of turnout, campaign contributions, and rally attendance. Ethnic/racial minorities are under-represented. Political attitudes show high over-time stability, and an experiment uncovers few partisan differences in response rates. Such survey samples are cost-effective ways to track the views of highly engaged citizens over time, but lower-engagement citizens prove hard to recruit, even with supplemental efforts. Survey participation is itself a political behavior.

Keywords: survey research, public opinion, online opt-in samples, sample recruitment, response rates, experiments

JEL Classification: H00

Suggested Citation

Hopkins, Daniel J. and Gorton, Tori, On the Internet, No One Knows You’re an Activist: Patterns of Participation and Response in an Online, Opt-in Survey Panel (June 17, 2024). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4441016 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4441016

Daniel J. Hopkins (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.danhopkins.org

Tori Gorton

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Political Science

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