26 March 2008

Bad Start to Poll

We need at least 271 responses to our survey. First night....42. I have 10 very discouraged students, and can't say I'm not discouraged myself. We'll do tonight and tomorrow night, and I think most of the students are agreed to work on Saturday, as well. If we can get close to our goal, maybe they'll be encouraged to come back for another day or two to finish up.

I have to say, I've earned new respect for honest people. It's much better to have someone simply say, "No, I prefer not to," when asked if they will participate, than to have someone just hang up on you. My personal favorite was the person who said yes, but needed to put me on hold for about 30 seconds. I was already wondering if it was a trick when the line went dead after about 10 seconds.

Never having done survey research, I was intrigued to notice that (a) it was very hard to stick to the script, and (b) a substantial number of respondents don't like to stick to the closed set of responses. Question: "Some people say CAFOs harm the environment. Do you strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree?" Answer: "Well, the real problem with CAFOS is...." I suppose that's human nature, but it makes the survey researcher's job miserable.

I think I'll stick to what I do best--digging up numbers, facts, and figures, and pretending average citizens don't exist and don't matter when it comes to political research.

3 comments:

Scott Hanley said...

What's so hard about declining politely? It doesn't take that much time.

I had someone once express surprise that I took the time to simply say, "I'm sorry, you must have the wrong number," rather than just hanging up. I don't get it.

James K said...

"I think I'll stick to what I do best--digging up numbers, facts, and figures, and pretending average citizens don't exist and don't matter when it comes to political research."

That's my preferred approach as well. As far as I'm concerned data is something that comes from spreadsheets.

James Hanley said...

Wrong numbers are one thing. Somebody purposely calling you at home and trying to steal some of your time--I personally dislike that, too.

Still, we're not doing cold-calling sales (in which case I think vicious rudeness is the proper market response, to reduce the value of that business strategy), and basic courtesy goes a long way toward just making the world a nicer place.

To that end, when someone declines to take our survey, we say thank you and have a good evening. However, I'm not sure how many decliners stay on the phone long enough to hear that.