Respondent Representivity

  • 10 April 2023
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While nonprobability-based surveys are a great way to engage a lot of residents, it can be hard to know whether you’re reaching a representative sample of your community. The demographics of those who respond to a survey are not always aligned with the total population: some demographic groups (such as young adults and renters) often respond at lower rates, which may cause them to be underrepresented in survey results.

For this reason, Polco automatically provides representivity visualizations for all nonprobability-based surveys, to help gauge who you’re reaching with your engagement efforts. This makes it easier to identify which groups are responding at lower levels (proportionate to your community), see where additional outreach may be needed, and adjust your communication efforts accordingly. In addition, Polco also offers an optional automatic weighting feature to balance any discrepancies you might see in those graphs and increase the overall representivity of your results. Together, these tools help ensure that your existing and future survey efforts are as representative of your larger community as possible. 

On the Participation tab of an active survey, you’ll see bar graphs illustrating representation levels for certain demographics (e.g., gender, age, and race), both for survey participants and the entire community.

Each graph includes a dropdown menu to switch between data reported by the respondent (through Polco’s Suggested Demographic Questions asked on a survey) and voter registration data (available for respondents who have been verified as registered voters in your community). The percentage unknown for each type of respondent data is shown directly below. 

In each graph, the first bar illustrates the proportion of total respondents identifying as that given demographic (based on self-reporting or voter registration, as determined by the dropdown selection). This survey-level data is set against demographic data for the entire community (provided by the Census and American Community Survey) in the next column. Hovering your cursor over a set of bars will show the specific proportions for each. 

This side-by-side comparison allows you to easily visualize which audiences your survey is successfully reaching, and which others may benefit from additional, targeted outreach to increase participation. Bringing more voices into the conversation is an important component for gathering complete, accurate data that represents your entire community! 

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