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May 15, 2005

AAPOR Reflections

I have a plane to catch in a few hours (literally), so I can't reflect much. Not that all of you are dying to know what happened at the conference, but hey, some might find this post interesting.

About aapor in general. I had a great time, met lots of new and remarkably intelligent people, and collected more papers and e-mails for additional papers than I could possibly read before next year's conference.

The leading pollsters take their job VERY seriously. There seemed to be a trend this year in studies and talks regarding non-response bias (the idea that the people not responding to the polls are not the same as the people responding to the polls, leaving a result that is not reflective of the true public opinion). If his absence at the conferencfe and the number of snarky comments/jokes made about John Zogby are any indication, he's the black sheep of the industry. Warren Mitofsky is well known for his "charm."

Perhaps the most important thing I discovered at the conference is that everyone who is anyone in the polling profession read Mystery Pollster. Reporters from NY Times, AP, and USA Today (among others), read his blog frequently as well. Mark Blumenthal's (Mystery Pollster) session on blogging and polling in the 2004 election was well attended. The panel included Chris Bowers of MyDD (via taped video), Joel Bloom of the University of Oregon who is studying blogs, and John McIntyre of Real Clear Politics. It wasn't just the number of people in the room, but who was in the room. The chair of the talk was the current AAPOR President and the new President elect was in the audience. So were influential pollsters from all the major polling firms.

From what I gather, the polling world wants to understand the blogosphere and they are trying to understand it through reasearch. This is good news for the blogosphere because they seem to recognize that bloggers are here to stay and that bloggers help shape the public opinion that they are trying to capture with their polls.

Related to the exit polls...

Check out this story from AP writer Will Lester. He's staying in my hotel and I just caught him about an hour ago. Nice guy. Really doesn't care much about the stats going on behind the story, which is why his article is so bland. However, there was a bit of controversy stirred up by Dr. Ron Baiman of University of Illinois at Chicago, not captured well by the piece. Exit pollster Warren Mitokfsy presented in a plenary before the entire AAPOR membership (basically the most influential public opinion people from academia, politics, and media in America were in attendance). I wish I could tell the whole story, but perhaps I'm not the best one to do it and this is probably not the best forum for that story. Hmm... Probably more on that coming soon...

As Mark Blumenthal explained to me early yesterday after I arrived in Miami, I jumped into a conversation that has been taking place between survey researchers for over 50 years. There's a lot of catching up to do - I'm hooked. See you next year AAPOR.

Posted by Rick at May 15, 2005 12:20 AM

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