Too Much Free Time

by Mike Masnick

Poll Finds Pollsters May Have Trouble Polling Mobile-Only Crowd

from the must-be-election-season dept

How do you know election season is approaching? Perhaps because stories that we haven't seen in about two years are starting to show up again. During the run up to the 2004 Presidential election, there were countless stories talking about how young folks today are increasingly dropping the landline and going mobile phone only. The political angle was that phone pollsters only call landlines -- and thus could be undercounting the youth demographic, who are more likely to just use mobile phones. Of course, that turned out to not have much of an impact (other than making Jimmy Breslin's final column look pretty silly). However, now that we're getting closer to the mid-term elections, suddenly everyone's wondering about the impact of those crazy youngsters with no land lines. So, how did the Associated Press find out about those mobile-only voters? You guessed it: they took a poll -- which, of course, would suggest that perhaps it really isn't that difficult for pollsters to reach mobile-only people if they just have the right connections. However, it is true that traditional landline only polling may eventually run into issues with missing out on a certain segment of the population, but it seems likely that some sort of workaround will be arranged to fill in the gaps without too much trouble.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), May 16th, 2006 @ 5:47pm


    Hmmm...Don't the young hipsters have to turn up and vote before this is even an issue. The impact of not polling youth is a lot like the impact of not polling women before suffrage. Admittedly, sad in both cases.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Tony, May 16th, 2006 @ 6:52pm

    Why is this a problem?

    Random digit dialing is not impeded in any way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2006 @ 9:35pm

    Re: Why is this a problem? =Laws

    1) I believe there are legal restrictions on calling cell phones that do not exist for landlines

    2) white pages are available for landlines but not cells

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2006 @ 9:38pm

    when those idiots called my landline they only made me want to vote against the people they were calling for. uhh, really, disturb me at home with the same spoon fed lies and rethoric that you get from mass media, and expect me to vote for you? uhh, no.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    George, May 16th, 2006 @ 11:55pm

    American Idol

    Why do they need to poll the voter? What are they good for except parties wasting money and news agencies telling who they think is going to win.
    If they want to know how the youth is going to vote, why don't they just have political idol. More people vote for their favorite singer then they do their politician.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Miguel, May 17th, 2006 @ 1:50am

    Re: Why is this a problem?

    The problem is that dialing numbers at random is a pretty expensive way to conduct a poll. You want to get/buy lists with demographic data so you can create a distributed sample for accuracy. Cell phone-only users don't tend to be on those lists.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Robert, May 17th, 2006 @ 10:05am


    The political parties buy the voter rolls from the government (legal) and try to cross ref with the "phone company" records to get the numbers - obviously missing the VoIP users (something this story did NOT address but will affect at least MY household this year) and the cell phone users.

    The parties don't usually call in the guise of a "survey." They usually make calls on the day of the vote based on voter turnout in precints that normally carry their party. If the vote count is DOWN in those areas, the voters get calls.

    That's how the "poll watchers" and the "callers" are linked together - just basic stuff.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Walter Dnes, May 17th, 2006 @ 6:43pm

    What about people with answering machines?

    I've been able to avoid surveys and sales calls for several years, thanks to my answering machine. If I recognize a voice leaving a message, I'll pick up the phone and answer them. Otherwise, forget it. So much for telemarketing jerks.

    As far as I'm concerned, *ANYBODY* who makes a living from cold calls to people who haven't asked for info, is a telemarketing jerk.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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