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Poblano (538): The Cellphone Problem, Revisited (the effect for pollsters)

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mod mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 10:07 AM
Original message
Poblano (538): The Cellphone Problem, Revisited (the effect for pollsters)
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The Cellphone Problem, Revisited

Let me comment on a bit more length on the so-called "cellphone problem" -- the fact that many voters are unreachable to pollsters whose samples consist of landline numbers only. This may have some relevance in explaining theRasmussen results today in Ohio which showed John McCain with a fairly large lead.

The basic issue with cellphone-only households is that their incidence is not distributed evenly throughout the population. Minorities are more likely to be cellphone-only than whites, and men are more likely to be cellphone-only than women. But the most important differences are in terms of the age of the voter.

The below is data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control on the number of cellphone-only adults by age cohort. Actually, it is not just cellphone-only adults -- the CDC also tracks another category which I call "cellphone-mostly" adults. These are people that have a landline, but also have a mobile phone, and use their mobile phone to receive most or all of their calls. I know, personally, a lot of people who fall into this category: they may use their landlines only to make local calls, only to connect to the Internet, only as an emergency in case their cellphone service is down, and they may have the service only because it came bundled with their cable or wireless package. If their friends and family are in the habit of calling them on their cellphones, they may be very suspicious of calls coming into their landlines -- assuming that they are likely to be from telemarketers -- and not make a practice of answering them.

-snip

This does not mean that Rasmussen screwed up. This problem has nothing to do with Rasmussen; it is common to all pollsters that don't include a cellphone supplement, which means all pollsters except Gallup and Selzer. These pollsters are trying to do everything they can to work around a vexing problem -- that about half the young voters they might want to sample can't be reached, and that they are stuck with small sample sizes of such voters as a result. But it does mean that, if there is greater error in their sample of young voters, it will lead to greater error in their poll as a whole.

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/07/cellphone-proble...
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napi21 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 10:16 AM
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1. Why do minorities chose cell phones over land lines? The implication
is that "poor" or lower income people chose cell phones. That surprises me because the monthly charges for a cell phone is higher than those for a land line.
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mod mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 10:21 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. He says it's about the importance of the youth vote:
"a vexing problem -- that about half the young voters they might want to sample can't be reached"

Is this an issue with the Rasmussen poll in Ohio? Actually, it may be. The poll has McCain leading 50-39 among voters aged 18-29, and 67-33 among voters aged 30-39. Obama leads 55-36 among voters in their 40s, and then McCain leads by single-digit margins among voters aged 50 and up. Such an age distribution is inconsistent with most other polling that we have seen in this election.

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KittyWampus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 10:24 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. the implication is less affluent people who can't afford a landline AND cellphone choose cellphone
Edited on Wed Jul-23-08 10:24 AM by cryingshame
and forgo landline.

That's what I did.

And if I were a working, single Mom the choice would be ever clearer.
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NYC_SKP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 10:37 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. Transiency and having only one line.
It's not so much that this demographic chooses cellular over land line so much as they can't afford both.
Also, if you have no credit, or bad credit, or unpaid past phone bills, you're not getting a land line, but you can get a pre-paid cell.
It doesn't matter that one is cheaper, plenty of fiscally unwise decisions are made by the poor, ie: not paying a ticket, then getting car impounded and it costs hundreds.
And many of these people don't have a very permanent address.

:hi:
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napi21 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 10:51 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Oh, I understand now. The way the media portrays it, poor people
PREFER cell phones, but they NEVER mention not being able to afford both. Thanks for explaining.
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unpossibles Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 11:12 AM
Response to Reply #1
6. that can depend
I got rid of my land line because it was cheaper to have a cell since long distance is free and my family is all out of state. I needed the cell for a few reasons, but did not need the land line, so chose to not have both. It's a pretty common decision among my friends.
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