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SurveyUSA studies may be conducted of any number of respondents, of any geography, and of any identifiable demographic population. Sample size is determined based on the specific objectives of a given research project. Results are minimally weighted to adjust for variations in the sample related to age, gender, race, number of adults and number of telephone lines in the household; or to specifications satisfying a specific research objective (i.e. demographic composition of a television-viewing time period).

SurveyUSA purchases random telephone “sample” from the largest and most-respected suppliers of random phone numbers to opinion research companies. Samples generated are as close to truly random as possible, to ensure that both listed and unlisted residences have an equal chance of being included in survey results. Known business telephone numbers and institutional telephone numbers are eliminated from the pool of possible numbers dialed.

This random sample ensures that SurveyUSA results are “projectable,” meaning that had every telephone in a given geography been dialed, the results would not differ from the reported poll results by more than the stated margin of error at the stated confidence level, were the same survey taken repeatedly.

For example, consider results with a margin of error of ±4.5% at the 95% confidence level. This means: if the same survey were conducted 100 times, then 95 times out of 100 the results would not vary in either direction by more than 4.5 percentage points.

It's important to note the distinction between polls that are scientific and statistically sound versus those that are “just for fun.” Some Internet polls, for instance, aren't scientific or reliable because people who participate are not representative of the population as a whole. In some surveys the same person can even vote numerous times. It's the same with “call-in” polls. These polls may entertain, but you wouldn't want to make critical decisions based on their results.

SurveyUSA research is sound and reliable.


SurveyUSA surveys are conducted in the voice of a professional announcer. SurveyUSA is the first research company to appreciate that opinion research can be made more affordable, more consistent and in some ways more accurate by eliminating the single largest cost of conducting research, and a possible source of bias: the human interviewer.

Only a few large research companies employ their own telephone interviewers. Almost all small pollsters, and even some of the nation’s most prominent firms, outsource all of their interviewing to a third party. ABC News does not do its own interviewing. NBC News does not do its own interviewing. The Washington Post does not do its own interviewing. Interviews for polls taken by these firms are conducted by a subcontractor, known as a “call center.”

Although some interviewers are talented career researchers, many call centers use itinerant, temporary, part-time employees to ask questions of respondents. Turnover can exceed 100% per year. No matter how well trained these interviewers are -- and sometimes they are not trained at all -- they are poorly paid and often unskilled. As a result, they may introduce bias at every step of the questionnaire administration process:

  • They may mispronounce words, people's names, or product names.
  • They may not know how to read or speak the English language.
  • They may stumble over words with which they are unfamiliar.
  • They may mis-read a question and not know it.
  • They may emphasize the wrong words, pause in the wrong places, or not pause at all, changing the meaning of questions, blurring the distinction among answer choices.
  • They may chew gum, cough or sneeze, giggle or gag.
  • They may lead respondents to what they believe to be the right answer.
  • They are human, so they get tired, and the last person they interview during a shift often hears the questions asked differently than the first person interviewed in a shift.
  • They may jump from one questionnaire to another, minute by minute, to meet quotas at their call centers.
  • They may read too fast or too slow.
  • They may wear their headset incorrectly, causing their voice to be too soft or too loud, or causing the voices of other interviewers to be heard in the background.
  • They may hear the respondent incorrectly, and enter the wrong information into their computer.
  • In rare cases, but in known cases, they may not interview a respondent at all, but just make up the answers to questions. This is known as “curbstoning.” It has gone on for years. It’s a dirty secret no pollster wants to talk about.

By contrast, SurveyUSA uses professional announcers to voice its research.

Here are examples of what traditional opinion research, as conducted by SurveyUSA's competitors, sounds like:

Competitor 1: "Would you definitely vote..."
Competitor 2: "Here are the names..."
Competitor 3: "Them are the programs..."
Competitor 4: "Let me see, let me see..."

Here are examples of what SurveyUSA public opinion polls sound like:

SurveyUSA 1: "This is Jane Robelot calling..."
SurveyUSA 2: "Today, we'd like to ask..."
SurveyUSA 3: "If you are married..."
SurveyUSA 4: "Thank you for your help..."

Here are examples of what SurveyUSA private market research sounds like:

SurveyUSA 1: "I'm going to read you a list..."
SurveyUSA 2: "Do you normally exercise..."
SurveyUSA 3: "Have you heard any..."


SurveyUSA is owned by news journalists, who are professional writers, and who specialize in communicating effectively.

SurveyUSA believes that opinion research, like architecture, is a combination of art and science. While there is an art to conducting opinion research of any kind, there is a particular art to conducting interactive research. SurveyUSA is proud of its scriptwriting excellence.


The editor of SurveyUSA set up and built the human-computer interface department at the largest financial services company in the United States. SurveyUSA specializes in interactive research. Put the interactive expertise of SurveyUSA to work for you.


SurveyUSA’s director of election polling is a PhD statistician with degrees in mathematics from MIT and Brandeis. He has experience working on more than 100 election contests at the local, regional and state level. SurveyUSA is continually refining its mathematical models to make certain that the data it delivers to clients is as representative of the target population as it can be. SurveyUSA voter turnout models are constantly being refined to incorporate learning from recent elections.

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