Last week, the Federal Communications Committee adopted a set of new rules designed to better shield Americans from calls to their cell phones generated through the use of an “automatic telephone dialing system.”

As of this writing, the FCC has not yet published the full text of the new rules, approved by a 3 to 2 party line vote. However, the changes described in an FCC press release and more than an hour of statements by FCC commissioners will severely impact pollsters and their subcontracted call centers that use automatic dialing systems to call prospective poll participants on cell phones.

The 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) already prohibits the use of an “automatic telephone dialing system” to contact “any telephone number assigned to a …cellular telephone service” without “express prior consent” from the party being called. That provision prohibits pollsters from dialing cell phone numbers when conducting fully automated, recorded voice polls (otherwise known as IVR or Interactive Voice Response).

The new ruling will now limit the degree to which live interviewer polls can use computer automation to call sampled cell phone numbers using an automatic dialer or otherwise known as a “predictive” dialer.  This will, undoubtedly, cause some polling firms to either stop including cell phones in their samples which will cause less accurate results, change their methodologies to more expensive methods of data collection, or stop polling all together.

Since 2004, SoonerPoll has NEVER used any type of automatic or predictive dialer to conduct its polls in the state of Oklahoma, therefore the new FCC rulings will have no impact at all on SoonerPoll or its current likely voter polling methodology.

SoonerPoll conducts ALL of its data collection for its polls in Oklahoma at its own call center in Oklahoma City and has NEVER subcontracted the data collection to call centers that use automatic or predicitive dialers.

In 2012, SoonerPoll changed its methodology to include a cell phone sample, which the new FCC ruling directly addresses, and since that time those calls have been directly dialed by live interviewers just like the landline sample has always been directly dialed by live interviewers.

“Because SoonerPoll has always collected its own data and never used any automatic dialers to collect that data, we believe this is why SoonerPoll has been the state’s most accurate pollster since its inception,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.  “We will continue to always follow the law and to improve our data collection methodologies in order to provide the most accurate polling in Oklahoma.”



SoonerPoll is Oklahoma’s only independent, non-partisan pollster, conducting and producing more publicly released polling on the opinions of Oklahomans than all other polling firms in the state combined. Founded in 2004, SoonerPoll has been the pollster of record for one of the state’s largest newspapers, The Tulsa World, since 2005 and routinely performs polling for News 9 and News on 6, the state’s most watched television news in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

In 2014, Nate Silver’s 538Blog rated and ranked 337 pollsters in the nation, and SoonerPoll was rated the BEST pollster in the state of Oklahoma and in the TOP TEN percent of best pollsters in the nation.

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Bill is the founder of and ShapardResearch, a full service market research firm based in Oklahoma City. Bill began his career in polling after working on a major campaign in Oklahoma from 1996 until founding SoonerPoll in 2004. Under Bill’s leadership, SoonerPoll has become the leading public opinion polling company in the state of Oklahoma conducting more public opinion polls for Oklahoma news media than all other pollsters combined since 2006. Bill’s commitment to go above and beyond the AAPOR ethical guidelines of minimum disclosure ensures that SoonerPoll produces quality results every time. Bill has lectured at Oklahoma State University on developing polling methodologies, data collection processes, and advanced likely voter sampling techniques. Bill also serves as an on-air political commentator for Oklahoma television stations.


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