Unlikely Voter

Conservative views on polls, science, technology, and policy

Polling methodologies still need adapted to new technologies

It’s not really news, but people who write often on polls in the offseason do need to find things to write about. So that’s why we have the hubbub about a recent CNN/Time poll which did not grapple with the issue of polling cellular phones. Due to federal law, polling cellular phones requires that either phones be manually dialed, or that surveys be manually conducted. Entirely automated systems of calling cellular phones are illegal.

Pollsters that don’t adapt, will fail.

Of course, there’s more to polling cellular phones than just complying with the law. One must deal with the need to avoid oversampling people with multiple cellular phones, or people with a land line phone and a cellular phone. Without adjusting for these, and avoiding the double counting, the results will still be less accurate than they could be.

We tend to get away with it for now because young people who tend not to have land line phones also tend not to vote. But as Mark Blumenthal points out over at the Huffington Post, the demographics are changing, and people without land lines are getting older. We won’t get away with it forever, and some pollsters will perish if they don’t adapt to that.


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