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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cell Phones and Polls

In our chapter on public opinion and political participation, we discuss a problem facing pollsters. They hesitate to call respondents on cell phones because the law forbids them to use automatic dialers for such calls. But if they take polls only via landlines, they will miss many people. A new article in Public Opinion Quarterly confirms this point:
We first look at the basic incidence of cell-phone-only voters in the exit poll sample in 2008 compared to 2004. The proportion of Election Day voters who live in cell-only households nearly tripled over four years, to 19.9 percent in 2008. This is similar to the finding of the general population National Health Interview Survey, which found 20.2 percent of households had no landline but at least one wireless telephone in the second half of 2008. Another 4.1 percent of Election Day voters reported in the exit poll that their household had no telephone service at all, indicating that pre-election polls using only landline samples failed to cover about 24 percent of the Election Day electorate.