Cell Phones and Polling

In 2004, there was a great deal of chatter about young, wireless voters not being included in traditional telephone polling. That demographic tends to skew towards the Democrats, so some believed polling showing Bush ahead was misleading. We set out to investigate that trend in the Democratic primary polling. Young voters prefer Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton, yet often don’t have landlines and aren’t polled. An In-Stat/MDR study estimated the number of wireless households to grow to 30% by 2008, a considerable segment of the population.

In 2004, Mystery Pollster broke down wireless households by age group. 29% of wireless-only adults are 18-24, 52% are 25-44, and 19% are 45 or older. In a Harvard Institute of Politics poll, Obama leads Clinton 35%-29% among voters 18-24.  Wireless voters 18-24 represent 8.7% of all voters (30*.29). Clinton leads Obama 33%-29 among voters 25 and up, and wireless voters in that age group compose 21.3% of all voters (30*.71).

Take the current polling numbers from the RealClearPolitics average where Clinton is ahead of Obama 37%-23%. Adjust for wireless households and Clinton’s lead is diminished to 35.45% – 25.32%. Her lead drops 4 points, which is within the margin of error, but is something that should be considered in future polling. Right now, pollsters supposedly correct the problem by weighting results demographically, but the wireless trend is accelerating and is likely to become a prominent issue.

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2 Responses to Cell Phones and Polling

  1. […] Cell Phones and Polling « The State of the Union An interesting post on a significant underestimate of Barack Obama in telephone polls since younger voters more often have cell phones and no land lines. (tags: obama) […]

  2. […] of the more interesting items I read recently was the post Cell Phones and Polling on the State of the Union blog. It says:  In 2004, there was a great deal of chatter about young, […]

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