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Industry Experts Focus on the Future of Polling

Industry Experts Focus on the Future of Polling

Survey ScienceWhen The New York Times, “The Gray Lady” of American news organizations, announced it was putting its marquee name on Internet polls, opinions were overwhelmingly black or white. AAPOR, the American Association for Public Opinion Research, issued a rare rebuke, suggesting the Times had abandoned essential standards.

Others praised the Times’ approach, and instead scolded AAPOR, with Columbia University statistics and political science professor Andrew Gellman, calling the association’s claims “ridiculous.”

Today, two major announcements that industry experts are joining forces to focus on innovation in public opinion research suggest a possible path forward—a path focused on principles and real-world applications, not on stale notions of the perceived superiority of telephones over the web (or vice versa).

The first statement of the day came from a potentially unlikely place—right here at SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading online survey platform. Aiming to cement our leadership role in the development of next-generation research techniques, we announced a seven-person Survey Advisory Committee committed to helping the company design and deliver new research tools. The group—including top polling and industry experts—will also help define new online research quality standards that the whole industry needs.

Separately, AAPOR announced the formation of a task force “to reassess the current state of survey methods (both new and traditional).” AAPOR’s initiative is led by some of the sharpest analysts in the opinion research industry, Reg Baker from Marketing Research Institute International, Mike Brick from Westat, and Scott Keeter from the Pew Research Center. One of the group’s mandates is to hold a dedicated “‘mini conference’ on assessing quality in today’s survey methods” at the association’s 2015 conference.

Here at SurveyMonkey, we have several large research programs designed to build industry knowledge and we look forward to continuing to contribute to AAPOR conferences. (Our own Sarah Cho is president of PAPOR, the association’s Pacific Chapter.) Our advisory committee puts us in an even stronger position to help the whole industry.

The SurveryMonkey Survey Advisory Committee will focus on best practices in survey design to market research and cutting-edge innovations within the field. In this, we’re incredibly fortunate to partner with some of the best minds anywhere and we look forward to getting started. Stay tuned!

Without further ado, here’s the amazing team of people on the Survey Advisory Committee:

Mark Baldassare

President and CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California; holds the Arjay and Frances Fearing Miller Chair in Public Policy and directs the PPIC Statewide Survey, a large-scale public opinion project designed to develop an in-depth profile of the social, economic and political forces at work in California elections and in shaping the state’s public policies.

Dick Boyce

Recently retired from running Worldwide Operations at TPG Capital, one of the largest global investment partnerships, owning 107 companies with over $140 Billion in revenue; previously served as CEO of J. Crew Group, Inc., and chairman of both Burger King Corporation and Del Monte Foods.

Diane Colasanto

Public opinion research consultant based in Washington DC; co-founder and former president of Princeton Survey Research Associates, a survey design and analysis firm that conducts political and social research; formerly chief methodologist and head of the Communication and Policy Research Division of The Gallup Organization.

Laura Evans

VP, audience development and data science at Scripps Networks Interactive (Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, GAC, DIY), leading audience development and data analysis and deployment of analytics across all SNI digital products; previously head of Dow Jones’s Audience Insights & Analytics team.

Peter D. Hart

Leading pollster and public policy expert, founded Hart Research in 1971; represented over 60 United States senators and 40 governors and co-directed the NBC & Wall Street Journal survey over the course of the last 25 years; chief analyst for either CBS or NBC working with Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Tim Russert and Brian Williams on election night coverage since 1964.

Andrew Kohut

Founding director of the Pew Research Center, president from 2004 to 2012; directed the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press from 1993 to 2012; president of The Gallup Organization from 1979 to 1989; founded Princeton Survey Research Associates in 1989.

Mark D. Smith

Founding president and CEO, California HealthCare Foundation, an independent philanthropy with assets of more than $700 million, headquartered in Oakland, California, dedicated to improving the health of the people of California; board-certified internist; member of the clinical faculty at the University of California, San Francisco and an attending physician at the Positive Health Program for AIDS care at San Francisco General Hospital.

SurveyMonkey will also assemble an additional Academic Advisory Committee. This group’s focus will be to address and explore the primary and theoretical practice of today’s public opinion polling, behavioral and attitudinal research and international studies. Timing for the formation of the Academic Advisory Committee is currently set for Q1 2015.

Questions, comments? Leave them for Jon below. 

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