Poll Participation


Industry1 SoonerPoll.com 2 Index3
Cooperation Rate4 15.2%* 38.3% 346
Refusal Rate5 39.2%* 13.0% 42
Response Rate6 20.7% 12.2% 138

MRA no longer configures cooperation and refusal rates as of 2007 The industry data is based on a survey of MRA contacts and the response rate was calculated as number of completes over pieces of sample. The industry cooperation and refusal rates in the table above are based on 2002 numbers.

Why is poll participation so important?

The rate at which people cooperated with, refused or responded to a poll all contributes to the picture of its overall reliability. Each variable affects the results of a survey and the quality of the data collected during the polling process. Low participation, in particular, can have a negative effect on a poll’s results.

SoonerPoll is proud to be a member of the Your Opinion Counts® (YOC), a program dedicated to ensuring the public voice by supporting the mutually beneficial relationship between the public and opinion research.

YOC is composed solely of legitimate survey and focus group research organizations and their clients. These organizations have pledged to maintain a high standard of respect for the public while conducting research that will impact products, services and government programs and policy- for the betterment of American society.

SoonerPoll evaluates poll response in a number of ways, including by telephone, online or through the mail.

We track and document three types of polling response:

  • Cooperation rate. How many people took the survey from the number of people who were reached?
  • Refusal rate. Of those who were reached, how many refused to participate?
  • Response rate. Of the total number of calls attempted, how many resulted in successful surveys?

Democracy in Action

In the United States, responding to polls is as important to democracy as voting in elections. Participation in both is important to the civic health of our country and to our American way of life. It promotes a greater understanding of the motivations behind voters’ choices.

For more insight into the importance of public opinion polling, read our Polls and Democracy page.

The Bad News: Participation is Decreasing

Just as voter turnout is on the slide, the number of people who agree to participate in polls is decreasing with every passing year. Over the last decade, poll participation decreased to the extent that most pollsters today expect to find fewer than three participants from every ten calls they make.

Here’s the good news

At SoonerPoll, our cooperation numbers have continued to improve. We are proud to be outperforming our competitors in all three response-rate categories. This could be because our sole focus is the state of Oklahoma, just like our name suggests. We could also credit much of our success to the fact that we conduct all of our own data collection in our call center in Oklahoma City – where Oklahomans are collecting the opinions of Oklahomans.

SoonerPoll also provides additional training to our interviewers on what they can do to improve participation. We understand that low rates of cooperation can decrease a poll’s reliability. So at SoonerPoll, we structure every aspect of our surveys in such a way as to maximize participation in every poll we conduct.

What are My Chances of Being Asked to Participate?

You could say that being selected for one of our polls is like winning the lottery. Few participants understand just how rare it is to be chosen to participate in a poll.

There are approximately 3.5 million people in Oklahoma. Out of that number, only 5,000 individuals who meet the survey’s parameters are chosen by computerized random selection to be a part of our sampling frame. Simply put, everyone has a 1 in 700 chance of being contacted for participation in one of our statewide polls. Thus, every person’s opinion in a given poll represents the view of a certain percentage of the voters in the state.

Respondent’s Bill of Rights

As a participant in our polls, we will always observe your rights.  For a complete list of your rights as a respondent, click here.

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Footnotes

1 “CMOR Tracking System – Cooperation, Refusal and Response Rates,” as accessed for 2001 and 2002 by the Council for Marketing and Opinion Research. Random-digit dialed (RDD), n=528, telephone studies (average for the two years). Annual study is currently being conducted.

2  Average results of three public opinion polls conducted by SoonerPoll.com statewide of likely Oklahoma voters between March and September, 2005.

3  SoonerPoll.com’s percentages divided by industry percentages and multiplied by 100.

4 Cooperation rate is the number of people who take the survey out of the number of people actually reached. Calculated: ( I+P ) / (( I+P ) + R + O)).  A definition of these variables can be found at http://www.aapor.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Standard_Definitions1&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=1814.

The calculations have been performed as closely to those outlined on the instrument found at http://www.aapor.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Standard_Definitions&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=1274.

5 Refusal Rate is the number of people who refuse to take the survey out of all the numbers dialed.  Calculated: R / (( I+P) + ( R+NC+O) + e(UH+UO)). A definition of these variables can be found at http://www.aapor.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Standard_Definitions1&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=1814.

The calculations have been performed as closely to those outlined on the instrument found at http://www.aapor.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Standard_Definitions&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=1274.

6 Response Rate is the number of people who take the survey out of all the numbers dialed. Calculated: ( I+P ) / (( I+P ) + ( R+NC+O) + e(UH+UO)). A definition of these variables can be found at http://www.aapor.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Standard_Definitions1&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=1814.

The calculations have been performed as closely to those outlined on the instrument found at http://www.aapor.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Standard_Definitions&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=1274.

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