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Political polls hindered by mobile-only generation

Posted: , by Ken N.

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Political polls hindered by mobile-only generation
Brian F. Schaffner of the University of Massachusetts Amherst asserts that political polling will be hindered by the shift away from traditional landlines. He argues that because of an increasingly mobile-only generation, "Polling is getting more difficult...No matter how you do it, you can't get a truly random sample."

This dilemma is reminiscent of the iconic "Dewey Defeats Truman" newspaper of the 1948 presidential election, which incorrectly identified a winner based on flawed perception of the election's trajectory. As 1 in 5 homes now forgoes a landline for mobile devices, there will be a significant piece missing from the puzzle of the upcoming election.

Schaffner also says that 35% to 40% of Americans are hard to reach on their landlines. Those who can be reached via traditional polling methods will "be older, have families, and are more connected to their communities." For this reason, he also says that polling data might inappropriately slant towards Republican votes, as younger voters won't be reached for their input.

While he admits that many polling organizations attempt to compensate for the use of cell phones, prominent pollsters like Rasmussen and Survey USA still depend on landlines.

He says that "The increasing number of cell-phone-only Americans is making telephone polling much more complicated and costly, as a result pollsters are looking seriously at new approaches to polling like Internet surveys." However, this again causes a slant in the polling results, as an Internet-based survey might reach a younger subset of the population.

Even before the ubiquity of cell phones, caller ID likely put a dent in polling efforts. Though the democratic process is appreciated by most Americans, the dinner-time calls from pollsters are rarely welcomed.

source: PhysOrg via Textually

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