What is MRP Polling and How Can It Help My Organisation?

A Brief History of MRP Polling/Modelling

Imagine you ran a survey of Xbox users and asked them how they were voting at the next election. The results wouldn’t be very useful would they? The Xbox audience skews heavily towards younger generations and towards men, so it’s unlikely to shed much light on how other demographics, older women for instance, are going to vote, right? 

And yet that’s exactly what researchers from Columbia University and Microsoft did in 2012. Using the results of an opt-in sample of Xbox users, they were able to predict that year’s US election results, with a similar level of accuracy to mainstream pollsters and representative samples.

How did they do it? By utilising Multi-level Regression and Poststratification (We’ll call it MRP from here), they were able to break the raw numbers down to a demographic level, and then combined the results with population-level data from the US Census and previous weighted election exit polls, they were able to produce a model that got incredibly close to predicting the final election outcome (the final day’s polling estimates was just 0.6 percentage points out from the result).

Fast forward to the 2016 Presidential US elections, a contest most pollsters would rather forget, and researchers from Langer Research Associates were able to accurately predict the election result in 49 of 50 states by utilising MRP.

Across the pond, in the UK, YouGov used MRP to correctly predict a hung parliament at the 2017 election, at a time when most conventional pollsters were predicting a clear Tory majority. Two years later, they used MRP to pick up the heavy Labor losses is so-called Red Wall seats (traditionally strongly Labor seats in the midlands and north), a trend that was again missed by traditional pollsters and helped drive Boris Johnson’s heavy win.  

The Benefits of MRP Modelling For Your Organisation

But the benefits of MRP extend far beyond election forecasting – this method of combining demographic data, survey results and statistical expertise has valuable applications across the spectrum – for everything from brand awareness surveys to issue-based polling. The key benefit: Greater accuracy down to a granular level. If you want to know not just what the population as a whole thinks, but need reliable insights about how different demographics respond – whether it’s by age, gender, education level or some other variable, MRP outperforms other methods, especially at the same price point. 

MRP has been underutiilsed in Australia and part of our mission at DemosAU is to correct that. The other part is to do it in the most cost effective way possible – we keep our overheads as low as we can, so that we can help more organisations access the power of accurate granular market research. 

Here are a few ways our MRP expertise can help:

Issue-based polling

This is one of our specialties. By combining survey results with our MRP expertise we can give you a highly detailed breakdown of how different demographics  respond to questions about a particular issue. We can even provide projections down to specific geographic locations, including an SA4 or state or federal electorate, based on the demographic make-up of that location and other important data points. This is extremely useful when planning a campaign or trying to persuade stakeholders. We can also work with you to generate media coverage, if desired.

Shaping product development and innovation strategies

MRP modelling will allow your organisation to better understand the preferences and concerns of different consumer segments. That means you can fine-tune your offerings to meet the specific demands of your target markets. 

Brand Perception and Reputation Management

MRP polling can help your business to properly gauge your brand perception across all relevant demographics, allowing you to identify potential risks and opportunities and craft responsive communication strategies and safeguard your reputation. 

Advertising and Marketing Campaigns

MRP polling data can be used to create tailored advertising and marketing campaigns. By identifying the preferences of various demographic groups, your business or organisation can design messaging that resonates with each segment, increasing the campaign’s overall effectiveness. 

Public Policy and Advocacy

Our MRP expertise can help non-profit organisations and advocacy groups to better understand public sentiment around specific policy issues, down to a granular level. This data can be instrumental in crafting evidence-based arguments and influencing policymakers to effect positive change.

Member, Supporter and Customer Engagement

We can use MRP to help organisations, including unions and super funds, but also private businesses, to gain detailed insights into the attitudes of their members/customers. Having a better understanding of your members’ or customers’ preferences and attitudes will allow you to build better engagement and marketing practices.

Get in touch to find out how we can help your organisation, and how we can help achieve your goals.

Check out our News page for more polling insights. You can also find methodology statements for our published polling here.