The cellphone polling myth
You’ve probably heard the same new favorite myth of the Obama Supporters: that because youth rely on cell phones, they are drastically under-represented in the polls. If not, here are some examples of the myth:
Peter Dreier (Huffington Post, The Nation, etc):
Because so many young people rely on cell phones, they are undercounted in public opinion polls, which mainly survey people using home phone numbers.
John Baer (Philidelphia Daily News):
Realities of life: Older people tend to be home and answer the phone; younger people tend not to have landlines, and no one does cell-phone polling.
Carl Cannon (National Journal):
[Y]oung people are difficult to survey because so many of them lack “land line” telephones…..and, believe me, these young voters are living in Obama-land.
Gosh, these Obama Supporters sure sound certain of this theory! There’s only one problem – it isn’t true.
Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,015 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Sept. 15-16, 2008. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).
In order to assess the possible bias in our landline samples, we periodically sample cellular telephone numbers and systematically compare the results from the cell phone sample with those from our landline samples. Our most recent analysis released in January 2008 The Impact of “Cell-Onlys” On Public Opinion Polling, indicates that when data from both the landline and cell samples are combined and weighted to match the U.S. population on selected demographic measures, the results for key political measures (such as presidential approval, Iraq policy, presidential primary voter preference, and party affiliation) are virtually identical to those from the landline survey alone.
The sort of wishful thinking that allows such delusions is disheartening. The Obamabots would do better just to face the facts.