Applying economics to survey design provides a better sense of what voters find important.
The researchers, a mix of academics and private-sector experts from a range of disciplines, theorized that if they imposed artificial scarcity on survey respondents, they could force them to make tradeoffs that would reflect their real-world priorities better than traditional polling. To test that theory, they conducted a survey that asked more than 1,000 Americans their opinion on 10 hot-button issues like abortion, gun control and pay equity for women. But in this survey, respondents were given 100 credits that they could allocate as votes on the different issues. Someone who cared deeply about immigration could spend all 100 credits on that issue, but then she wouldn’t be able to weigh in on any of the other subjects.
There was an added twist: Each additional vote on an issue cost more credits than the one before it. Casting a single vote in favor of abortion rights cost just one credit, but casting four votes cost 16 credits. As a result, it was more expensive to take a more extreme position.
The approach, which the authors call quadratic voting,2 is based on research from economist Glen Weyl, who first developed it as a way to improve group decision making. Weyl has co-founded a company, Collective Decision Engines, to apply the quadratic voting technique to market research, product design and other commercial purposes. (Source)