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  • How can I tell "real" research from "fake" research, "so-called" surveys, or "pseudo" polls? Back to Top

Real research is scientific: every respondent from the eligible universe has an equal chance to be included. Results of the survey are extrapolatable to the entire population of eligible respondents.
Fake polls are usually easy to spot, because they are in fact not polls at all: Fake polls are polls where respondents either volunteer to be included; where respondents do not match the universe of eligible respondents, where respondents must pay to be included, or where telemarketers pretend to ask respondents for opinions, but in reality want to sell them something.


  • What kind of research does SurveyUSA conduct? Back to Top

SurveyUSA conducts true random-sample scientific telephone research. SurveyUSA conducts research for the nation's most discriminating research clients.


  • How can I tell the difference from one research company to another? Back to Top

Ask these questions:

  • Who are your clients?
  • How many individual projects did you complete last year? (SurveyUSA completed 1,200 last year.)
  • Where do you obtain your sample?
  • How much are you going to charge me?
  • How long till I can "go into the field" (get started)?
  • How long till I get data back?

In many cases, SurveyUSA is able to complete an entire project before its competitors are able to pull together a bid on the research.

Reputable research organizations behave in a similar fashion:

They ensure there is no sample bias inherent in their work by purchasing random sample from one of the industry's established sampling companies. SurveyUSA has spent more than $1 million on random phone numbers, to ensure that every respondent - rich and poor, black and white, young and old, male and female - has an equal chance to be included.

Reputable research organizations do systematic "call backs" to hard-to-reach respondents, who may not have been home the first time. SurveyUSA retries busy signals and unanswered phone numbers aggressively, throughout the project's lifespan.


  • Don't people hang up on you? Back to Top

Some people do hang up on opinion pollsters.

A majority of Americans, however, understand how great it is to live in a Democratic society where elected officials care what you think, and where corporations are trying very hard to develop products specifically for you.


  • Isn't it illegal to call people up and ask them questions? Back to Top

No, it is easy to be confused about the distinction between telemarketing and opinion research. Telemarketers are people who are trying to sell you something: a new credit card, a 2nd mortgage, and a different long-distance carrier.

Legitimate opinion research companies never try to sell you anything. They are interested only in your opinion.

Any individual who would like to receive fewer marketing phone calls can ask that their phone number be included on the Direct Marketing Association's "Do Not Call" list.


  • Do people lie to pollsters? Back to Top

Most people are flattered to be asked for their opinion, and are proud that they have an opinion. So few people lie to pollsters as to be statistically insignificant.


  • How do you know if your survey is representative of the population? Back to Top

When SurveyUSA conducts research in a given geography, SurveyUSA knows exactly what the demographic breakdown is in that geography. So, for example, if SurveyUSA were to conduct research of the state of North Carolina, of adults age 18+, SurveyUSA knows from government sources such as the United States Census bureau and other private sources that the population of North Carolina is:

  • 48% male
  • 52% female
  • 38% between age 18 and 34
  • 34% between age 35 and 54
  • 28% above age 55
  • 77% white
  • 20% African American
  • 3% Hispanic, Asian or other

The respondent population that you receive back from SurveyUSA will match this census bureau population as closely as possible. But not only that: if the population of North Carolina, were in fact …

  • 14% young white male
  • 4% middle-aged African American female
  • etc.,

Then that is what you would receive back in your SurveyUSA survey results.


  • Can I call back the respondents who complete a questionnaire and try to sell them something? Back to Top

No. SurveyUSA respects the privacy and confidentiality of the respondents it talks to. Poll sponsors may not use the answers obtained in a research survey for subsequent sales or marketing purposes. In the market research industry, this is known as "SUGGING," or "Selling under the guise of conducting research."


  • What geographies do you poll? Back to Top

SurveyUSA may survey virtually any geography you can define, including: states, counties, cities, MSAs, DMAs, ADIs, Zip Codes, or Congressional Districts.


  • How many people do you talk to? Back to Top

Theoretically, there is no limit to the number of respondents SurveyUSA can interview for a given project. But practically, diminishing returns set in at a certain point.

  • A typical SurveyUSA media poll, taken of a local geography, will have 500 representative respondents.
  • A typical SurveyUSA media poll, taken of a national geography, will have 1,000 respondents.

Although a survey of 1,000 adults contains twice as many respondents as a survey of 500 adults, a survey of 1,000 is not twice as accurate. Statistically, a survey of 500 adults yields a margin-of-error of approximately ±4.5%. A survey of 1,000 adults yields results with a margin-of-error of approximately ±3.2%. However, other factors, such as such as refusal to be interviewed, question wording, question order, interviewer bias and weighting may introduce additional error that is more difficult to quantify.

For a more complete discussion on margin of error, see the American Statistical Association.


  • How long is a typical survey? Back to Top

SurveyUSA surveys are two to five minutes long. Longer surveys may be onerous to respondents in today's rush-rush world.


  • What's the longest a survey can be? Back to Top

Theoretically, there is no limit. Practically, you abuse your respondents after about five minutes.


  • How long does the process take from start to finish? Back to Top

SurveyUSA can complete research in minutes, when appropriate, or over many days. Many media polls are ordered and completed same day. Many market research projects are ordered one day and delivered the next.


  • What do I get back in my hands? Back to Top

End-users, known as consumers of research, get back weighted, tabulated data. Re-sellers of SurveyUSA research can choose to get back raw, unweighted data.


  • Who is your competition? Back to Top

See the sections in this website on public opinion polling competition and private market research competition.


  • When is your competition better than you? Back to Top

In corporate America, there is an expression when it comes to buying computers: "No one ever got fired for going with IBM."

There is an expression in buying long distance: "No one ever got fired for going with AT&T."

In opinion research, "No one ever got fired for going with Gallup."

If you need a "big name" on your research, in order to show the boss that you spared no expense, you can find bigger names than SurveyUSA. On the other hand, if you want fast turnaround, excellent service and a price that big-name research companies cannot touch, turn to SurveyUSA.


  • When are you better than your competition? Back to Top

  • When you need to talk to a lot of respondents quickly.
  • When you have to go "into the field" with a project immediately.
  • When the subject of the survey is sensitive and respondents may be reluctant to discuss it with a live interviewer.
  • When the U.S. mail is too slow.
  • When traditional telephone research is too expensive.
  • When the Internet population doesn't match your target demographic.


  • Who are your clients? Back to Top

There are two separate sections of this website.

One has our public opinion clients.

Another has our market research clients.


  • How long have you been in business? Back to Top

SurveyUSA has been in business since 1990. We conducted our first survey in 1992.


  • Who owns/runs the company? Back to Top

SurveyUSA is owned by Hypotenuse®, Inc., of Verona, NJ.


  • How do you know which phone numbers to dial? Back to Top

SurveyUSA buys random sample from the largest, most reputable, independent providers of random sample in the country.


  • How can you be sure that those phone numbers are a good representation of the geography you are surveying? Back to Top

For a detailed discussion on sample weighting, see$ssi_gen.product?id=119

and …


  • Do people call you? Or do you call people? Back to Top

For certain types of opinion research, such as customer satisfaction surveys, companies may arrange to give potential respondents a toll-free number to call, which is answered by SurveyUSA, so that consumers may be interviewed about a specific product they have bought, store they have shopped in, service representative who has assisted them, airline they have flown, etc. In the majority of cases, though, SurveyUSA places calls to a representative, randomly selected cross-section of the geography being polled.


  • Can I only ask Yes/No Questions? Back to Top

You may ask any multiple-choice question.


  • Can I only ask multiple-choice questions? Back to Top

You may also ask "open-ended" questions, known as qualitative questions.


  • Are you guys liberals? Or conservatives? Back to Top

Neither. SurveyUSA is a non-partisan research company, which is not affiliated with any political party, political cause or ideology.

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