The Associated Press on September 29 reported that not polling cell phone users can skew poll results. The information, gathered by Pew Research, suggests that while most polls show that the presidential race is not leaning strongly in either direction, many of those same polls neglect to include younger voters who do not have their own landlines but carry cell phones. These voters, says AP, overwhelmingly favor Democrats — a fact that, if true, blows open an otherwise tightly contested race.
Polling companies, however, are on top of the matter. Frank Newport, editor-in-chief- of the Gallup Polls (see sidebar) says, “This industry is extraordinarily aware of cell phones. We’re not going to stupidly ignore the fact that more people are carrying them. People see a story like that and they think we’re not aware of it. Of course we’re aware of it.” Gallup recently introduced a program to poll cell phone users despite the expense (which Newport says his firm also is painfully aware of). Gallup polls including cell phone users, however, have yet to bear out any overwhelming favor toward any political party.
Resnick says Opinion Research includes a cell phone sub-sample as part of every CNN poll — a very new phenomenon that he says has become standard practice among major polling companies’ political research just this year. ORC, in fact, implemented this within the past four months.
But just when you think the cell phone equation has been settled entirely, there is yet another sub-section to consider: GoPhones. “Conventional wisdom suggests that it’s the young and liberal-leaning that can make the difference, but the urban poor are using GoPhones (cell phones with pay-as-you-go plans similar to a landline) because it’s the cheapest way for them to get telecommunications,” Resnick says. “Credible research organizations, like Pew, are finding some differences there to.”