How the AJC polls Georgia voters

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution regularly polls Georgia voters about issues facing them and their thoughts on political candidates and elected officials.

Polling is just one component of how the AJC covers politics and state government. Polling is not perfect, but it remains the most effective tool available for measuring public opinion. For every poll story, AJC reporters follow up with dozens of respondents to get a clearer picture of the results. Some of those respondents are quoted in our stories.

Q: Who conducts the polls?

A: Since 2018 the School of Public and International Affairs Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia has conducted the polls. M.V. “Trey” Hood III, the director of the center and a professor of political science oversees the polls.

Q: Who selects the questions?

A: AJC editors and reporters choose the questions based on current issues in the news and questions we have about what Georgia voters care about. Some questions are the same from poll to poll. Every poll also asks a series of standard demographic questions.

Q: Whom do we talk to?

A: The School of Public and International Affairs Survey Research Center contacts Georgians from across the state who are registered to vote. The numbers were randomly drawn from a voter registration list obtained through the sampling vendor L2. The company maintains a database constructed from the state voter registration lists. Through commercial sources, phone numbers have been added to the individual records (registrants) that make up these lists. Seventy percent of the calls were made to cellphone numbers; 30% to landlines.

Q: What is weighting and how do you do it?

A: Some adjustments are made to the total population of people surveyed to accurately reflect the demographics of the state. This poll was weighted for race, age, sex and educational level.

Q: What is the margin of error for the poll and what exactly does that mean?

A: No matter how carefully a poll is conducted, there will always be some measure of uncertainty when you survey a small portion of a larger population, such as the state of Georgia. The margin of error is the measure of the uncertainty in the sample. The margin of error that we report accounts for these sources of uncertainty. For example, with a margin of error of 4 percentage points, an issue polling at 50% could have support of anywhere between 46% and 54%, with a 95% level of confidence. That means that if we drew 100 different samples using the same methodology, then no more than five times out of 100 should chance variations in the sample cause the results to vary by more than 4 percentage points from the answers that would be obtained if all Georgians were polled.