The effects of survey mode and sampling in Belgian election studies: a comparison of a national probability face-to-face survey and a nonprobability Internet survey

  • Ruth DassonnevilleEmail author
  • André Blais
  • Marc Hooghe
  • Kris Deschouwer
Original Article


National probability election surveys are more and more abandoned. Decreasing response rates and the escalating costs of face-to-face and telephone interviews have strengthened election scholars’ reliance on nonprobability internet samples to conduct election surveys online. In a number of countries, experiments with alternative ways of recruiting respondents and different interview modes have been well documented. For other countries, however, substantially less is known about the consequences of relying on nonprobability internet panels. In this paper, we investigate the effects of survey mode and sampling method in the Belgian context. This is a particularly important and relevant case study because election researchers in Belgium can draw a sample of voters directly from the National Register. In line with previous studies, we find important differences in the marginal distributions of variables measured in the two surveys. When considering vote choice models and the inferences that scholars would draw, in contrast, we find minor differences.


Election study Belgium Survey mode effects Representativeness Nonprobability sample 



A previous version of this paper was presented during the Making Electoral Democracy Work mini-conference at the 113th Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Meeting, San Francisco, August 31-September 3, 2017. We thank Filip Kostelka for providing technical information on the MEDW-survey and Fernando Feitosa for research assistance. We are grateful to Shane Singh and Dieter Stiers for commenting on previous drafts of the papers and the anonymous reviewers of this journal for excellent suggestions.

Supplementary material

41269_2018_110_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (182 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 181 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Dassonneville
    • 1
    Email author
  • André Blais
    • 1
  • Marc Hooghe
    • 2
  • Kris Deschouwer
    • 3
  1. 1.Département de science politiqueUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Citizenship and DemocracyKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Political ScienceVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselBelgium

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