Re-Examining the Validity of Different Survey Modes for Measuring Public Opinion in the U.S.: Findings From a 2010 Multi-Mode Comparison

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In this paper, we present data from a three-mode study carried out in 2010. National surveys were fielded at the same time over the Internet (using an opt-in Internet panel), by telephone with live interviews (using a national RDD sample of landlines and cell phones), and by mail (using a national sample of residential addresses). Each survey utilized a nearly identical questionnaire soliciting information across a range of political and social indicators, many of which can be validated with government data. Comparing the findings from the modes to each other and the validated benchmarks, we demonstrate that a carefully executed opt-in Internet panel produces estimates that are as accurate as a telephone survey and that the two modes differ little in their estimates of other political indicators and their correlates.