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Center for Insights in Survey Research

Welcome to the Center for Insights in Survey Research, IRI’s public opinion research center. 

Through this new center, IRI is leveraging two decades of experience in conducting and analyzing public opinion research as part of our larger mission to advance democracy around the world.  IRI works to help political parties become more responsive to voters, assist elected officials to improve citizen services and empower citizens – especially underrepresented groups – to participate more effectively in the political process.

Since 1998, we have carried out polling and survey research programs in some of the world’s most challenging environments – from former Communist bloc countries following the fall of the Soviet Union to Indonesia following the fall of the Suharto regime, from Iraq following the fall of Saddam Hussein to Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban in 2001.  From Zimbabwe to Cuba, from Mongolia to Central Europe, we have conducted more than 655 polls and surveyed more than 1.24 million people in 63 countries.

The Center for Insights provides decision makers, both in countries where we poll and in the countries that support our work, with sound data and proven analysis to inform public policy and strategy.  In Pakistan, for example, our 2008 pre-election polls showed a clear preference for the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party.  Public awareness of our findings helped ensure a transparent election that had the confidence of the Pakistani people.  In Cuba, IRI conducted groundbreaking polling from 2007-2013 which provided the first ever thorough analysis of citizen opinions on a range of topics such as access to Internet and cell phone usage, the outlook for Cuba’s economic future and the state of repression of everyday Cubans.

A list of all the polls we have conducted can be found here

Our Approach

Our polling programs are built on the belief that a well-informed and engaged citizenry is an irreplaceable ingredient in a vibrant and successful democracy. 

Our polls aren’t just about numbers.  With more than 20 years of experience, our DC-based and in-country experts work to put numbers and data into the context of political events and evolving trends.  Our experts use proven methods to determine the concerns and needs of voters, and then help partners develop policies and programs to meet those needs.

Using qualitative and quantitative research, we give citizens, many for the first time in their lives, an anonymous, credible means through which they can voice their thoughts and opinions without fear of reprisal.  Our findings help leaders respond to constituents and help citizens hold their leaders accountable.  Our analysis helps citizen groups and local governments develop strategies for engaging citizens – including marginalized groups – in the civic and political life of their communities and countries.

We also work with citizen groups and local governments to develop new tools and use existing tools to engage marginalized groups and citizens more generally in the civic and political life of their communities and countries.

Click here to read more about how we carry out our public opinion research programs.  

Innovative Survey Tools: Examples of Our Work

Fostering Responsive Local Government

Our Baldytak project (which means your municipality) uses an innovative mobile application to conduct and tabulate in real time informal citizen surveys in local communities throughout the country.  Through this project, we empower groups of citizen volunteers to identify and communicate the priorities and concerns of their fellow citizens to elected mayors and municipal councils in the interest of improving service delivery through participatory decision making.  To date, IRI-supported citizens’ committees in 19 municipalities have conducted 55,459 surveys using the Baldytak app.

Strengthening Decentralization and Local Accountability

Our nationwide municipal survey of 22 oblast capitals enabled us to provide data driven feedback on citizen satisfaction with municipal services, local and national leadership and attitudes toward potential democratic reforms.  The survey served as the foundation for three additional governance programs including a mayors’ roundtable in Kyiv where local officials used the data to discuss decentralization, democratic governance and other reforms.  The findings of the poll have also informed discussions between local and national officials on a variety of themes related to decentralization and democratic governance.

Increasing Citizen Participation

Our SMS platform, which is free for users, increases citizen feedback to county level officials and participation in county and community governance.  The platform, which allows citizens to share their concerns with elected county officials and members of local government associations, was so successful that Kenya’s County Assembly Forum (CAF) adopted its use.  A two-way communication tool, the platform has a dynamic survey mechanism to collect opinions and views and enables CAF to more effectively represent their members’ interests, specifically the thousands of county assemblymen and assemblywomen who are often the first point of government interaction for Kenyan citizens.

Helping Officials Develop Better Informed Policies

In Central and Eastern Europe, our youth-centered focus groups in 1998-2002 played a defining role in giving pro-reform campaigns the tools they needed to increase turnout in the 18-24 year-old demographic.  In Serbia, our focus groups in 2014 helped the minister of economy to develop a plan to reform the country’s communist-era regulations, which were holding back investment and growth.  Through our work, reformist leaders in Serbia have helped to set the once-troublesome country onto a pathway toward reform that has increased Serbia’s potential for European Union membership.

The generous support of individuals and corporations enable IRI staff and volunteers to carry out its mission around the world. With your help, IRI will continue its mission of hope for decades to come.

IRI is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Contributions are tax deductible

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