If you think pollsters in the US have it rough - difficulty getting folks to agree to participate, difficulty finding good samples given the rise of cell phone only households, etc. - try conducting public opinion research in Afghanistan. Over the last few years, ABC News has worked with research firm D3 Systems and the Afghan Center for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research to pull together some unique and fascinating research on shifting public opinion in the country. Their Emmy award-winning work was presented in the first session here at AAPOR and I was there to hear what they'd done and what they'd learned.
Research of this nature is of interest not just because of its unique nature but also because of its impact. For instance, their research found that beliefs about civilian casualties were linked to optimism about the country's situation and a variety of other indicators. With the "winning the hearts and minds" item so integral to the conflict in Afghanistan, research like that conducted by ABC/D3 highlights key links between public opinion and things like the conduct and outcome of a war effort.
I had the opportunity to chat with ABC News' Gary Langer and D3's Matthew Warshaw about their research - take a look to hear more about the findings of their research and the challenges they encountered.