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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Survey USA and the Virtues of Transparency


A correspondent takes me to task for being too hard on SUSA, one of the five firms that produce most of the state-level polls. I didn't mean to be. In fact, I think that they're probably the best of the five. (Zogby, another of the five, has a very good reputation, but their state polls are based on internet panels, not telephone polling).

I assume that SUSA is the best of the group because they release by far the most information about their polls, which I think is a very strong indicator of quality. For one thing, it shows they have confidence in their work. For another, and I think this is more important, releasing this kind of information probably helps SUSA understand how well their methods are working so they can catch errors and improve their methods.

This works in other fields too: "We've generally found over the years that it's a good sign when a label gives you a great deal of information about a wine," report some experts (p. 191).

 
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