Telephone pollsters see increased productivity during shelter in place

Here’s a surprising side effect of widespread shelter in place during the pandemic: telephone pollsters are getting more responses to their calls and having longer conversations than they did before.

The New York Times reported that:

  • Several telephone pollsters are seeing productivity increases of around 25 percent.
  • A recent poll by the Siena College Research Institute was designed to take about 10 minutes per call, but they averaged about 14 minutes each.
  • Pollsters have seen increased participation among cellphone users during the daytime. In the past, many respondents would have been at work and unwilling to answer a call from an unknown number.
  • Since answer rates are up, pollsters can collect the required sample size sooner. This makes it less expensive to complete a telephone survey.
  • Because more people are willing to tell pollsters what they think, it’s more likely that the poll results will reflect the views of the general population.

“People are dealing with anxiety, and haven’t seen their family and friends,” said one of the telephone interviewers. “They just want to talk to someone.”

See the New York Times article by Giovanni Russonello and Sarah Lyall for the full story. (The NYT is currently providing free access to their coronavirus reporting.)

Telephone pollsters see increased productivity during shelter in place