But before any pollster could start inputting and disclosing, there are a score of outstanding issues that AAPOR members who are serving on the volunteer committees tasked with organizing aspects of the initiative must sort out, including fundamentals like exactly what information participating pollsters will be required to disclose, and how quickly they will have to do so.
While Miller says the existing AAPOR code’s disclosure requirements provide a “template” for what the initiative could require, he says they may “go beyond that.” And in the wake of the Strategic Vision episode, Miller has decided that it will not be adequate to take pollsters at their word that their disclosure information is accurate. He plans on setting up some system to verify, perhaps through spot checks, what pollsters are self-reporting.
The goal of the transparency initiative is to bring more information to the polling market, not only so people can more easily judge the quality of conducted polls, but so that commissioning organizations can more easily compare what they might buy.
“Some people act like polling is just a commodity. You buy it for as cheap as you can get it. We can change that attitude,” says Miller. “I very much hope that sponsors of surveys will use this resource to judge where they’re putting their money. If the money continues to go to operators that aren’t transparent, that will make this only a feel good thing. If the money goes to organizations that have been transparent, then this will work. The people being transparent hope this will bring them more business, and I sure as heck hope they’re right.”