The new WPRI 12 poll in the 1st Congressional District’s Democratic primary we’re releasing at 6 p.m. surveyed precisely 302 likely Democratic primary voters. You might think that means our esteemed longtime pollster, Joe Fleming, made 302 phone calls to get his results.
But it took many more calls than that to get a representative sample of the district’s voters – more than 5,000 calls when all was said and done, according to Fleming. “You need the right age groups,” he said. “At the end of it, you may be asking for a male or somebody who’s 18 to 39” – that is, the people hardest to track down.
That’s important because any poll’s results are only as reliable as the people who took the survey. It’s especially tricky with a primary, where only about 25% of registered voters turn out to the polls, he said.
Luckily for us, nobody in Rhode Island has more experience getting polls right than Joe Fleming. He’s been with WPRI 12 since 1984, and still recalls making waves with bygone surveys such as one that put DiPrete and Sundlun in a dead heat.
I’m betting the results dropping at 6 p.m. will cause a similar stir when we release it on TV and online.
• Related: Exclusive WPRI 12 Poll: GOP’s Doherty has big lead over Cicilline (Feb. 27)