July 04, 2008

As voters ditch landlines, are polls less accurate?

Telecom marketers and market researchers overall are keenly aware that the number of mobile-only households in the US is growing. Not only are many Americans abandoning their landlines outright, but an even larger number are functionally mobile-only and rarely use their landline phones anymore.

Since most surveys are still conducted only via landlines, the Pew Research Center recently studied mobile-only adults to learn how their growing numbers were affecting political polling accuracy. Pew cited US government data that said mobile-only households accounted for 14.5% of all adults during the last six months of 2007, and that 22.3% of all adults primarily used a mobile phone.

Mobile-only respondents were more likely than either landline or mobile-mostly respondents to support Sen. Barack Obama and Democratic congressional candidates, according to Pew. They were also less likely to be registered to vote.

Mobile-only and mobile-mostly Americans are different demographically from those who primarily use landlines. They are younger, more likely to be male and less likely to be white. Also, compared with mobile-only respondents, the mobile-mostly sample was more affluent, better-educated, and more likely to be married, have children and own a home.

It would be easy to assume that any survey that is not large in size and does not contain a healthy proportional mix of all respondent types might have questionable accuracy. That is where weighting comes in. Pew found that, as in other recent surveys, properly weighted combined landline and mobile samples had little or no difference in overall results.

Another recent study of new media and politics found that mobile phones were the technology of choice for US adults of all political stripes.

According to BIGresearch, instant messaging ranked second for Democrats and Independents, while video games were second among Libertarians and Republicans. Libertarians scored highest overall in their use of technologies, including iPods and MP3 players, while Republicans scored lowest overall.

Courtesy of http://www.emarketer.com


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