Cellphone Users Are Missing From Polls

Overlooked bloc could give Obama a hidden 2% boost
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2008 7:58 AM CDT
Roughly 30% of Americans have a cellphone, and about half of those have no landline.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – Pollsters are setting themselves up for an embarrassment, Salon predicts, by using only landlines in surveys, ignoring the 15% of American adults who use only cellphones. That 15% is predominantly young, full of students, and disproportionately black and Hispanic. They are not, in other words, likely McCain voters. Add this uncounted bloc, and Obama’s lead could jump 2% or more, two veteran pollsters tell Salon.

Pollsters try to account for the cellphone-only crowd by polling landline users in the same demographic. But landline users are fundamentally a different group; they’re more likely to be married, well-insured, socially conservative homeowners. Contacting cellphone-only users is expensive—by law, cellphones can’t be automatic-dialed—but if pollsters persist in ignoring the bloc, they could wind up with a Dewey/Truman level mathematical debacle, Salon says.