Monday, October 18, 2004

Ring States; or Swing Tones

Since it is illegal for pollsters to call cell phones, Americans who do not have a home phone, only a mobile are not being counted in the polls for the upcoming election. The Hill has an interesting article about what effect -- if any -- this has on the accuracy of telephone polling.

The polling companies, who have to defend their product, say the effect is minimal:
Shawnta Wolcott, director of communications for Zogby International, which reaches voters by telephone as well as the Internet, conceded that the cell-phone-only crowd is affecting pollsters’ ability to reach voters.

“We acknowledge it is a problem, but it has not compromised the quality of our polls at all,” Wolcott said. “It has affected the way we reach respondents across the board because we only call those with listed numbers, so in response we just stay on the phones a little longer and keep calling people back.”

Many political consultants agree, however, that since younger voters vote at a lower rate as it is, the wireless-only crowd should not significantly affect this year’s results.

“There’s enough people out there that this is still a very small proportion (of voters),” said GOP pollster Jim McLaughlin of McLaughlin & Associates.

McLaughlin pointed out that though this group only makes up about 5 percent of the electorate, pollsters should not be missing them entirely because a large number of young voters still do have land lines.

Roger Entner, director of wireless and mobile services for the Boston-based Yankee Group, agreed with McLaughlin, saying the majority of “cord-cutters” were already apathetic to voting.

“This really is not that big of a deal because the segment that is underrepresented is underrepresented in most panels anyway,” Entner added.
[I should note that I'm a 'cord-cutter' myself and got rid of my land line because I kept being called by pollsters and market researchers.]

It's pleasant to know that pollsters have basically written off young voters. Maybe -- I know this is utopian thinking here -- you bright young Americans could prove them wrong this time?

[Via Electoral-Vote where Kerry is barely ahead and the margin of error is so slim that even cell phone users could make the difference.]

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