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September 18, 2008

Phone Polls Don’t Work Anymore

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 3:39 pm

Looking at the recent presidential polls, it looks like a very close race. Follow the betting odds and contributions though, and this race is swinging highly toward Obama.

How is that?

It’s the polls. Most polls are done via land line telephone. They simply don’t include mobile phone numbers.

That might sound all OK and fine, but according to the latest Nielsen study up to 17% of American households don’t have landline phones.

That number is up 8% from last year, and Nielsen expects it to rise to 20% by early 2009.

Looking at the wireless only families, one sees that they have an average income of around $40,000, live in one or 2 person families, and have recently moved or changed jobs.

Are they poor? Nope, they’re young people. This 17% is almost entirely made up of 18-25 year olds.

That’s a significant demographic of people that standard telephone polls just aren’t reaching, and it’s certainly something to keep in mind whenever looking at the next Harris poll.


  1. The thing I’d really like to see some statistics on is how the polls actually influence other voters.

    I’m willing to bet there’s a ton of people who want to be on the “winning team” and vote for whoever the polls say are winning.

    Let’s see some voter timelines, I bet the people who vote in the last hours votes are significantly skewed one way.

    Comment by Ryan — September 19, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

  2. Though to be fair, the demographic that they are most likely missing with those polls is the same demographic that is least likely to actually vote in any given election.

    Comment by Jaime — September 19, 2008 @ 8:30 pm

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