Despite its widespread adoption in marketing research, the use of non-probability sampling to make generalizations to the population is highly controversial among many people in the survey research community. The announcement last year that The New York Times and CBS News would partner with YouGov for some election polling spurred a wide range of reactions, including some that argued the news organizations were abandoning their high standards. Critics argue that opt-in panels cannot be used to make inferences about the characteristics, behaviors and attitudes of the general public because there is no theoretical basis for estimating the accuracy of such samples. A key concern is that the process of adjusting such samples to match the population on key variables of interest requires subjective judgments about the underlying models or the variables to be used for adjustment. The AAPOR Task Force report on non-probability sampling and the commentary it elicited is a good place to find a discussion about the controversy.
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