More of us… have been participating in polls while bored at home

For pollsters there’s a silver lining to the pandemic: more Canadians hunkered down at home are answering their calls.

According to CBC News, a number of polling organizations have found that response rates have increased since the onset of COVID-19. Margaret Brigley, CEO of Narrative Research, told CBC News that those refusing to participate in surveys has decreased anywhere from 10 to 30 per cent in the past 45 days.

Christian Bourque of Léger also reported an increase of 10 per cent for the organization’s online polls and more than 10 per cent for its surveys via telephone.

Prior to the pandemic, there was a decline in response amongst Canadians. The Pew Research Center reported a six per cent response rate in 2018 with more than 20 per cent of Canadians completing polls until the mid 2000’s.

The number of people who start a survey and fail to complete it normally ranges from 10 and 25 per cent, according to David Coletto CEO of Abacus Data. However, Coletto told CBC News that he’s seen a rise in completion rates. This has allowed the organization to send out longer surveys.

“Canadians have more time and are easier to reach, so that likely has increased response and completion rates,” he said.

It’s not just boredom driving Canadians to be more compliant—it’s likely fear too. A New York Times piece that reported on the spike in responses rates across the U.S. found that more people are receptive to polls as they see it as a way to express pent up anxiety caused by the pandemic.

Either way, a rise in participation will allow more Canadians to be heard and potentially influence public policy.