IVR technology is utilized in a variety of situations to solicit data and information from a subset of respondents. Market research companies employ IVR applications to query customers about their experience and perceptions. Political candidates record auditory advertisements encouraging constituents to vote and send those messages out via IVR. Pollsters carefully formulate call flows and questions to survey the public about their political beliefs using IVR applications. The technology has become an integral part of feedback management.
With the 2012 election just wrapping up, pollsters will be analyzing and scrutinizing IVR’s involvement in the political process (from both pollster and political party standpoints). How effective were these IVR polls in engaging the public and predicting the outcomes of Tuesday’s election? What were the successes and failures of various IVR applications throughout this election cycle? What role does IVR technology play in the election cycle?
Pollsters will be discussing and dissecting these questions in the coming months, hoping to reach a conclusive decision about the place of IVR in political polling (election-based or otherwise). I previously authored a post exploring the differences in poll results based on contact method (Live interviews versus automated [IVR-based] polls) LINK, based on an article featured in the New Republic. The article found that there was a discrepancy in poll results conducted live versus those conducted by an IVR.
The IVR polls were reporting a very close race in swing states, but live pollsters were finding a majority of voters in favor of Obama. There could be several reasons for the discrepancy. Automated polls, while legal in most states, are unable to contact people via cell phone, which greatly skews the data because they are only relying on feedback from those with landline phones. Live pollsters are additionally able to hold a conversation with respondents and delve more deeply into their psyche, whereas IVR polls rely on touch-tone-submitted or very brief spoken answers.
However, IVR poll results have turned out to be very accurate in previous elections. Per the blog Margin of Error, “the final IVR polls taken before elections have, on the whole, performed as well if not better than live interviewer polls in predicting the outcome.”
Ultimately, IVR polling turns out to be very accurate, painting what Margin of Error refers to as a realistic picture of the political landscape. Pollsters will continue to work with technology companies like Plum Voice in an effort to improve the technology and better chart public opinion.