In conjunction with The Economist, YouGov's latest presidential poll finds Clinton maintains a narrow lead over Trump, putting their findings pretty much in line with the average of national polls this week.
I joined up because I am curious about the process of online polling. Online polling panels are designed to overcome the increasing difficulties of conducting traditional phone surveys. Hardly anyone answers their phones these days and even among those who do, 90 percent won't talk with a pollster. Pollsters are legally barred from making automated calls to cell phones so reaching the 50 percent who only use mobile phones is very expensive.
Online pollsters like YouGov try to attract large numbers of volunteers who will share their demographic and opinion data via internet quizzes. They offer prizes and some dubious privacy guarantees to participants who then make up their "panel". They use what they know about panel members to create samples of people who, when aggregated and weighted for various characteristics, will combine to form an accurate representation of the electorate. There's a lot of statistical mumbo-jumbo going on here.
YouGov's U.S. website is not very forthcoming about how this works, but the United Kingdom site explains their method a little.
Presumably they are doing something similar in the U.S. I wish they'd share what markers they use for "social class" here as well as how they segment our news sources. Nate Silver's 538.com gives YouGov's product a B grade and comments "we’re awaiting more evidence about the reliability of online polls."
When I do get such questions, I have to wonder: for what sort of sample would a company doing broad surveys need the views of an old, white, economically comfortable, liberal San Franciscan? Aren't I an open book demographically? But apparently sometimes they need such ones in the pool.
The History of White People. That historical term is both nonsense and racist. The federal Census uses "white" and I think "white" is the name most people in the U.S. would understand. Maybe the anachronistic label is a British thing?