Magazine article Politics Magazine

Phone Home: A Line That Doesn't Connect Anymore

Magazine article Politics Magazine

Phone Home: A Line That Doesn't Connect Anymore

Article excerpt

My home phone number is (202) 652-0039. Call it. Your chance of reaching a live person is not so good. When nobody picks up, leave a message. I haven't checked my home phone voicemail since 2006.

Opinion researchers have had plenty of time to think about this; the first time this phenomenon was studied, in 2003, just 4.7 percent of households were wireless-only.

I asked National Research's Adam Geller how he deals with this challenge. He says: "More and more pollsters are turning to 'dual frame' surveys where a portion of 'cell only' or 'cell mostly' respondents are included, along with the traditional landline sample. From a practical consideration, the cost of a typical survey will be increased with a dual-frame cell phone segment. The pollster also must screen for zip code, as there is some chance for a mismatch on state, county or city/town, since numbers follow people and mobile phone users tend to be, well, mobile."

John Nienstedt from Competitive Edge Research & Communication adds: "There is a ton of great research regarding the effect of cell phones on political polling out there. The most recent American Association for Public Opinion Research conference probably had half a dozen papers on the subject. In general, as long as you correctly weight the data, you rarely have anything to worry about."

Randall Gutermuth from American Viewpoint said much the same thing: "We often account for cell phone-only households with targeted sampling and are constantly examining and adjusting methodologies to ensure we have a representative sample. Due to out-of-date laws, cell phones have to be dialed by hand rather than through an auto-dialer, which unfortunately adds to cost. Ironically, the more widely dispersed cell phone-only households are becoming, the less impact they have on the quality of the data because many studies show that cell phone-only households are demographically and behaviorally similar to their landline cohorts. …

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