Businessman Dean Debnam founded Public Policy Polling (PPP) in 2001 to address inefficiencies in public policy surveys.
Debnam, current President and CEO of PPP, has over 30 years experience in creating and growing businesses as well as an active interest in politics and public policy.
He realized campaigns and advocacy organizations often allocated huge sums to survey research that could be better spent elsewhere, and that the price of survey research kept smaller organizations from enjoying the benefits of measuring public opinion. In response, Public Policy Polling was formed to measure and track public opinion in an affordable way.
PPP employs Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology to poll quickly, cost-effectively, accurately and on a wide range of issues. Since 2001 we have conducted surveys for politicians & political organizations, unions, consultants, and businesses. View our client list. In addition to surveys, PPP provides automated message delivery services (robocalls). To learn more about what services we offer, go to Hire PPP.
PPP performs automated telephone surveys using Interactive Voice Response (IVR). We can track public opinion more often and on a wider range of issues than by interviewing in-person or via phone, or by mail-in surveys. IVR technology drastically reduces the expense of polling and it allows for faster surveys completions, usually in one evening. Pollsters Survey USA and Rasmussen Reports led the charge nationally for this segment of the polling industry. Public Policy Polling has been the leader in North Carolina since our founding in Raleigh.
In addition to cost and time advantages, IVR technology has helped to poll more accurately. We can reduce interviewer bias to zero by eliminating the live human interviewer. Every poll respondent hears the exact same questions read the exact same way. We also utilize the voter registration database for most of our surveys. Calling only registered or likely voters gives us a much more accurate sample of the target populations for most political and campaign based polling. Following the 2008 U.S. presidential election, an analysis by The Wall Street Journal showed PPP's swing-state polling was the second most accurate projection, missing the average margin of victory by only +/-1.04 percentage points.
Finally, IVR may be used by survey organizations for asking more sensitive questions where the investigators are concerned that a respondent might feel less comfortable providing these answers to a human interlocutor (such as questions about drug use or sexual behavior). In some cases an IVR system can be used in the same survey in conjunction with a human interviewer. For example, during the survey the interviewer might inform the respondent that for the next series of questions they will be sent to an IVR system to continue or complete the interview.
The vast majority of Public Policy Polling's surveys deal with campaigns, politics and public policy. Our samples are usually based on the voter registration database of a given state because the opinions of people who vote, and actually influence the system, matter most in these cases. We find this method to be more accurate for political purposes than random digit dialing.
Voter registration databases have lots of information on each individual voter including gender, race, party affiliation, age, address, precinct, municipality, county, districts, and voter history. They do not have phone numbers. PPP purchases samples from lists created by Aristotle International, Inc., a company who takes the voter databases of each available state and appends home phone numbers to match each voter. In targeting our surveys we can then select voters based on any of the registration criteria. For example, we could conduct a survey of only black voters from Cumberland County, NC who are registered Democrats.
In addition to the sample, each PPP survey begins by asking if the individual is a registered voter. This is to confirm we are talking to the right person as well as to weed out non-registered phone answerers. For some surveys we may get even more specific, such as asking if they intend to vote in a particular upcoming election. Again, we do our best to only survey those who will actually be casting ballots.
Accurate polling requires the demographic breakdown of a survey to closely resemble the same breakdown for the population you are trying to measure. By beginning their surveys by asking for the “second oldest woman in the household” or some other criteria, traditional pollsters can manipulate their respondents during a poll in order to reach quotas for demographic groups like gender, race, age, etc. IVR polling does not allow PPP to set quotas beforehand, instead we have to work with the data after our survey. To achieve relatively accurate demographic breakdowns we employ weighting schemes.
Our first step in weighting is to survey more than enough people. This allows us to then be able to randomly reject individual surveys from demographics that are overrepresented. For example, in our polling more women answer relative to men, and not enough African-Americans answer our surveys. Our random selection eliminates any potential bias from the rejections, plus it functions like a quota, only after the fact.
PPP also employs a mathematical weighting scheme that assigns a weight based on each demographic. For example, if a survey is 82% white and 13% black, but needs to be 77% white and 17% black, the weighting formula can fix the imbalance mathematically. We always try to get our numbers as accurate as possible, and our end results are available for all to see and scrutinize. Read more about PPP's track record.
If you are interested in hiring Public Policy Polling or would like a price quote, please contact us by email or by calling 888-621-6988.