WAPOR 72nd Annual Conference
19-22 May 2019 ● Toronto, Canada

Online program (some with uploaded presentations)

Paper Version of the Program (with At-A-Glance) begins on p. 167

The World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR) held its 72nd Annual Conference May 19-21, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. The WAPOR conference convened immediately after and overlapped with the last day of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) conference. The conference topics related to public opinion broadly, especially those related to the conference theme.

Conference Theme: Public Opinion and Democracy

It has been over 800 years since the Magna Carta, and international survey research shows that liberal democratic values of respect for the will of the people, human rights, impartial justice and the rule of law have become widely adopted by citizens across the world. Given how central democratic principles are to the field of survey research, and how central a role public opinion polling plays in the practice of democracy, it is clearly time for social researchers to examine the relationship between public opinion and democracy in some detail.

Do we witness a decline in political and institutional trust and in the perceived legitimacy of democracy? Does the polling profession need to renew its own levels of trust and legitimacy with the public? How should public opinion research operate in order to better serve society and democracy? What is the role of stakeholder/expert research? How do the answers to these questions vary between established and emerging democracies?

There were four conference formats including: panels, round-table sessions, and research papers as oral or poster formats. The round tables will be presented in the new “Innovation Room” at our Toronto Conference. You can find the first round table podcast below, with more to follow.

Topics included:

  • Public opinion and democracy
  • New sources of information on public opinion and the use of social media to voice public opinion
  • News, media, journalism and public opinion
  • Political behavior, participation and culture
  • Electoral polls in emerging/incomplete democracies
  • Methodological challenges and improvements, including in the areas of sampling, measurement, survey design and survey response or non-response
  • Challenges of comparative research and International Survey Projects, cross-cultural concerns in data collection and measurement issues
  • Social media, big data, sentiment analysis, and emerging technologies
  • Best practice in stakeholder research and expert surveys

Round Table Podcasts

DAY ONE: Sunday, May 19, 2019

Round Table I
11:05am – 12:35pm WINDSOR ROOM
Democracy and Democratic Values: Dynamics, Measurement, Forecast 
Convenor: Christian Haerpfer

Goal: This roundtable unites leading scholars in the field of values research to examine the implication of social value change for the quality and consolidation of democracies worldwide. Participants will address such issues as the ongoing debate on democracy decline and the rise of populism, elite-mass linkages, public opinion and political participation, causal relationship between value change and democratic consolidation and threat to democratic rule, relationship between change in social values and future of regional and global integration, etc. 

Invited Contributors/Discussants: Ronald Inglehart, Pippa Norris, Leonardo Morlino, Robert Worcester, Christian Welzel, Alejandro Moreno, Christian Haerpfer, Marita Carballo, Juan Diez-Nicolas, Hennie Kotze, Henrique de Castro, Marta Lagos, Ian McAllister and others.

Round Table II
3:45 – 5:00pm WINDSOR ROOM
Democracy 3.0: Polling Innovations for Public Policy 
Convenor: Doug Miller

Goal: To explore social science innovations that are promising in terms of renewing and improving civic engagement and democracy.

Confirmed Contributors/Discussants:
Steven Kull, University of Maryland: citizen cabinets
Peter MacLeod, CEO MASS LBP, Toronto: reference panels
Antonio Mugica, CEO Smartmatic, UK: the eVote platform

DAY TWO: Monday, May 20, 2019

Round Table III
9:00am – 10:15am WINDSOR ROOM
Media Polls: Pollsters and Their Media Clients Discuss Challenges and Successes 
Convenor: Doug Miller

Goal: In important ways, on-going media polls on topical issues pose a unique challenge for both media organizations and their commercial polling partners. This session will candidly explore both the challenges and the successes of this particular genre, in order to help other media polls be developed and sustained. Two specific media polls will be explored: the BBC World Service Poll (2005-2017) and the ABC News Poll (on-going).

Invited Contributors/Discussants:
Steven Kull, University of Maryland, co-lead, BBC World Service Poll (with GlobeScan)
Steven Titherington, BBC World Service (via VideoConf) (not confirmed)
Gary Langer, Langer Research Associates, USA

Round Table IV
2:00pm – 3:15pm WINDSOR ROOM
Peer-to-Peer Advice on Fundraising/Business Models for Longitudinal Studies 
Convenor: Doug Miller as organizer/Chris Coulter as facilitator

Goal: To provide a forum for discussing the “business” side of sustaining international longitudinal survey research studies, whether by fundraising or by creating a business model capable of funding these studies. Speakers will identify key challenges, potential funding sources and secrets of success. Both academic and commercial studies will be explored, including the regional Barometer studies, NORC’s international studies, GlobeScan’s RADAR survey, Glocalities’ annual values survey.

Confirmed Contributors/Discussants:
Marta Lagos, Latinobarometro, Chile
Tom Smith, NORC at the University of Chicago, USA
Christian Haerpfer, President, World Values Survey Association
Chris Coulter, CEO GlobeScan, Canada
Martijn Lampert, CEO Glocalities, Netherlands

DAY THREE: Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Round Table V
10:30am – 11:30am WINDSOR ROOM
Winning Back Public Trust in Polling: Can Becoming a More Purposeful Profession Help? 
Convenor: Chris Coulter and Mehmet Aktulga

Goal: To frankly discuss the public trust deficit of the polling profession and how we as a profession might take a more purposeful approach in the world. Might a good offence like this be the best defense of polling and re-builder of trust?

Confirmed Contributors/Discussants:
Daniel Franklin, Executive and Diplomatic Editor, The Economist, London (via VideoConf)
– A media perspective on the trust challenge facing the polling profession
Mehmet Aktulga, Managing Director, Yontem Research Consultancy, Turkey
– “Good” Polling: An ethical basis for rebuilding trust in our profession
Chris Coulter, CEO GlobeScan Incorporated, Toronto
– A “purpose” consultant’s view of how the polling profession might regain trust by becoming more purposeful
Dr. Samir Abu Rumman, Gulf Opinions, Kuwait (via VideoConf)
– Is a Political Freedom Index a “big idea” for a more purposeful WAPOR to lead on?

Round Table VI
11:45am – 1:00pm WINDSOR ROOM
WAPOR Chapters: Reports from the Regions
Convenor: Doug Miller, WAPOR Liaison Chair

Goal: To provide an opportunity for updates and peer-to-peer learning between colleagues involved in advancing geographic WAPOR Chapter Organizations around the world in order to provide closer support to WAPOR members there. Reports from the 8th annual WAPOR Latin America conference and the 2nd annual WAPOR Asia conference, as well as updates from WAPOR WANA and WAPOR SSA (Sub-Saharan Africa).

Confirmed Contributors/Discussants:
Dr. Mariano Torcal Loriente, President, WAPOR Latin America (via VideoConf)
Dr. Robert Chung, President, WAPOR Asia
Dr. Samir Abu Rumman, Gulf Opinions and WAPOR WANA
Angela Ambitho, InfoTrack Research, Kenya

Round Table VII
2:00pm – 3:15pm WINDSOR ROOM
How Academic and Private Pollsters Can Cooperate Better to Advance Our Profession
Convenors: Claire Durand and Doug Miller

Goal: Solidarity and better working relations across all segments of the survey research profession is vital in these times when polling’s legitimacy is being so openly and widely questioned. This round-table session will explore perspectives, case studies and ideas of how academics and private pollsters especially can cooperate better together.

Confirmed Contributors/Discussants:
Claire Durand, WAPOR Past-President
Doug Miller, Founder, GlobeScan Incorporated
Dr. Robert Chung, Hong Kong University
Frits Spangenberg, Founder, Motivaction, Netherlands
Steven Kull, University of Maryland, USA
Mark Gill, King’s College, UK (not confirmed)
Mari Harris, Markinor, South Africa (not confirmed)
Marita Carballo, WAPOR President, Argentina


Conducting Surveys in Emerging Democracies
Robert Chung, The University of Hong Kong

Echoing the conference theme of “Public Opinion and Democracy”, this training session will focus on the main problems encountered in conducting public opinion research in general, and sample surveys in particular, in emerging democracies. Robert Chung will draw on his personal experience in overcoming conceptual and technical problems when planning and running opinion projects amidst volatile social and political environments. As an academic and professional, he will share his experience on how he adhered to science and democracy in conducting nonpartisan opinion studies in Hong Kong, in the Greater China Region, and in Asia and he will explain the importance of international and cross-cultural efforts in promoting and safeguarding scientific studies. 

An Insider’s Look at Sentiment Analysis : What Works, and What They Don’t Tell You (watch on YouTube)
Normand Péladeau, Provalis Research

Text analytics allows you to perform sentiment analysis that provides real value to help you shape and grow your business. That statement isn’t up for analysis. Text analytics works but it doesn’t necessarily work the same way for everyone. To make text analytics work for you, you need to know some of the pitfalls to avoid the pratfalls. We will show you sentiment analysis techniques and methods you can deploy, what’s behind them and what to watch out for. 

Strategies for Publishing Public Opinion Research
Paul Brewer, University of Delaware & IJPOR Co-Editor

This training session will focus on how to prepare manuscripts for journal submission, how to choose target journals for manuscripts, and how to address feedback from editors and reviewers. It will also provide a look at how the publication process works, from the initial submission of a manuscript to the final stages of editing before publication. The session will include time for questions from the audience.    

Comparative Survey Research: Issues of Quality, Harmonization and Transparency (watch on YouTube)
Instructor: Irina Tomescu-Dubrow (Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, and CONSIRT at The Ohio State University and PAN)

Comparative survey data are at the heart of research that analyzes social phenomena for different populations (across countries, or social groups within country) and, frequently, over time (in cross-sectional or panel frameworks). To yield reliable results, such data need to be of good quality, and be used in informed way. This session focuses on the concept of quality as it applies to cross-national survey research, from the perspective of both data producers and users. First, we discuss the variability in survey quality that emerges through the design, collection, and documentation process. Here, we consider how ex-ante harmonization – that is, procedures that data producers apply during the design and implementation stages to improve comparability  –  can strengthen survey quality. Next, from the data user’s side, we discuss the problem of unequal quality within and between international survey projects. We consider the data quality challenges, and possible solutions, as they appear in ex-post harmonization of cross-national survey data. Ex-post harmonization is data reprocessing that facilitates the simultaneous use of diverse surveys conducted in multiple countries and across many time periods for comparative analyses. We conclude with a discussion of practical concerns regarding transparency of comparative survey research.