Power at the polls: Reconnect Research methodology touted by Wall Street Journal

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Reconnect Research made national news in October when the Wall Street Journal profiled the role of the industry pioneer in gathering accurate, meaningful data on this year’s candidates and political issues — and in effectively solving prevailing problems with other forms of voter research.

Scott Richards wants to replace the familiar “Your call cannot be completed as dialed” message with a different one: “Would you like to take a survey?”

WSJ discusses how the company’s unique research methodology can complete thousands of surveys a day to provide an invaluable tool for political polling. Reconnect Research methods are now being analyzed by both Pew and research firm RTI International, the story reports, with Pew Senior Research Statistician Karol Krotki already determining company survey results are evenly distributed. In comparison, Pew has expressed concern about major variations found in comparable survey data gathered online.

Reconnect Research methodology is known as “river sampling” because it’s akin to “collecting whatever swims by,” writes Ryan Knutson in the WSJ article. But it’s a proven system; company CEO Scott Richards points to studies showing its data quality — including the size of audiences sampled — is on par with more traditional research modes. The system also effectively navigates industry barriers like consumer privacy concerns, widespread use of caller ID, the FCC’s curtailing of automatic “robo-calls” and regulations prohibiting the calling of mobile phones via auto dialer.

In other cases, those issues have made political polling prohibitively labor intensive and expensive. Pew reports its survey costs have risen 75 percent since 2004, while time needed to find enough respondents has increased by several days. Pew also recently determined only 9 percent of households are now willing to participate in surveys, compared to 36 percent in 1997.

WSJ discusses how Reconnect Research provides one remedy:

Pew and research firm RTI International now are analyzing the feasibility of Mr. Richards’ idea. His company, Reconnect Research, invites people to take a survey when they misdial telephone numbers or reach one that is unavailable because of some network glitch. Doing this seems to collect an evenly distributed sample that doesn’t require much weighting, said Karol Krotki, a senior research statistician at RTI.

“Every new communications technology has changed the way surveys operate,” Harvard professor Stephen Ansolabehere stated in the article. “One approach is to say all these new technologies are untrusted, they’re unproven, let’s just not trust them. And the other approach is: We’ve got to figure out how to use them, because the emergence of these new technologies is making the old ones obsolete.” Contact Reconnect Research to learn more about the company’s innovative methodology for collecting valid survey data.


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