A recent article by the Huffington Post lists cell phones and the internet as two important technologies of 2012 when it comes to public opinion research.
The article states that some of the discrepancies of past political public opinion polling were because researchers underestimated and underrepresented the amount of "cell-phone-only households" in their samples. The author goes on to explain that a number of these cell-phone-only households share the same background and political views and therefore, leaving them out of a sample generated inaccurate results. Because of these inaccuracies, many strategists set quotas for the number of cell-phone-only households before starting their polls this election year.
In addition to paying more attention to cell-phones, HuffPost says it's important to reach out to voters via the web. With the internet, research can reach a vast source of voters and acquire more accurate qualitative data.
The first, make sense, the internet allows researchers to contact more people in a short amount of time and with little expense. The latter, however, threw me for a loop...qualitative data?
According to the article, more researchers are turning to the web to conduct online qualitative interviews about controversial and sensitive issues. The author states that this approach works because researchers receive "personal thoughts and feelings from respondents that they may have otherwise been reluctant to share in a more traditional focus group settings."
Although this surprised me at first, it makes sense to use the web for this type of polling. After all, it is relatively easy and cheap to find your sample and if respondents are responding via this medium, I would expect more sensitive surveys to be distributed online.