New York Times polling standards
Sun September 28, 2008 9:52 am

We have had an ongoing discussion on this blog about polling methods. I was looking at the Times' electoral map this morning and came across the Times' statement about which polling methods meet their standards for publication. It follows below. Or you can read it in full here.

What Standards Must Be Met for Polls to Be Published?

Surveys must meet certain standards in order to be published in The New York Times — either in the newspaper or on the Web. These standards, among others, include proper sampling of the population, sound methodology and unbiased content.

In order to represent the population statistically, a survey should be based on a probability sample. This means everyone in the population must have an equal chance of being selected to participate in the survey or at least a known chance of being selected.

Probability samples include "random digit dialing" (RDD) sampling, which is generally used for telephone surveys. A poll in which respondents are drawn from a list compiled for another reason (such as voter registration lists or telephone directories) is questionable because such lists are rarely kept up-to-date.

What Kind of Polls Are Not Published?

Internet Polls — Non-probability samples are commonly used in Internet polls, call-in polls, blast e-mail polls and a variety of others. The entire population does not have an equal chance of being contacted. Most Internet polls are based on panels of self-selected respondents, and Internet access is not yet evenly distributed across socio-economic and demographic groups. The Times does not publish most Internet polls.

Interactive Voice Response Polls — Interactive voice response (IVR) polls (also known as "robo-polls") employ an automated, recorded voice to call respondents who are asked to answer questions by punching telephone keys. Anyone who can answer the phone and hit the buttons can be counted in the survey — regardless of age. The Times does not publish IVR polls.

Partisan or Privately-Sponsored Polls — Surveys conducted by Democratic or Republican pollsters or by privately-sponsored groups can be biased in content. The Times does not publish surveys conducted by Democratic or Republican pollsters or privately-sponsored organizations or interest groups.

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