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Interpreting Results

How to better understand results of questions and surveys

This article focuses on interpreting results to an individual question, but it can also be applied to long form surveys. There are four main components to results:

  • Overall results
  • Verified results and breakdowns
  • Comments
  • Participation rates

This article will discuss each section of the results and how it can be used to gain a better understanding.

Overall results

Overall results on Polco are similar to what you might expect from other online survey or engagement options. These results are best understood to be the "top level" or, what the total set of respondents though. 

Verified results and breakdowns

Sometimes it is helpful to understand how verified residents or specific demographics (age, gender, etc) felt relative to other groups. You can view verified results and breakdowns to achieve this level of understanding. For example, perhaps we expect a decision to disproportionately affect young women and want to make sure we have a strong understanding of their preferences. That's where breakdowns can help.


Often times nuance is lost in discrete or quantitative survey questions. On Polco, individual questions in a set (vs a survey) each have a dedicated comment structure that allows respondents to add a qualitative note along with their response. This can be used to understand "why" respondents responded the way they did. Additionally, by viewing the comments that were most popular, you can gain an understanding of which reasons or arguments are most powerful.


Participation rates

Finally, it's often helpful to understand who responded to a given question and whether that group achieves the intended level of representation. Participation rates are available in real time, so you can understand who you are reaching, who you are not, and can adjust outreach accordingly.