Professional standards are virtually non-existent in the local opinion polling industry. No law regulating the conduct of opinion polling, and no professional association of pollsters either to set and enforce standards of conduct and standards of disclosure and ensure “the reliability and validity of survey results.”
There is a professional association of market research firms–MORI (Market Opinion Research Inc), but market research is markedly different from public opinion research. Consequently, opinion polling firms can pretty much do what they please. They set their own standards and parameters for the conduct of their polls. And they release findings virtually at will.
In the US, public opinion polling is not regulated by law, but is self-regulated through the National Council on Public Polls (NCPP) and the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). Both associations provide the principles and standards of disclosure, which include, among others, the following:
- Who sponsored the survey, and who conducted it?
- What is the sampling method used?
- What is the population that was sampled?
- What is the size and description of the population that serves as the primary basis of the survey report?
- The exact wording of questions asked, the order in which they were asked, the text of any instruction or explanation to the interviewer or respondent that might reasonably affect the response.
- A discussion of the precision of the findings, including estimates of sampling error and a description of any weighting or estimating procedures used.
- Which results are based on parts of the sample rather than the total sample, and the size of such parts.
- The method, location and dates of data collection.
If we had such counterparts to these private associations, we would not be seeing the extravagant claims for opinion surveys and the excesses by pollsters that we see today. We would have polling firms that are a lot more modest about their work, and a lot more careful about their pronouncements regarding the opinions and sentiments of our 94 million people.
And we would not be searching in vain on their websites for their survey samples and how they were created, the names of politicians they had invited to participate in the survey at P100,000 for every “rider question” about themselves, who accepted the invitation, and what “rider” questions were thrown in.