Thursday, October 28, 2010

Democratic Support Understated Due to Cell Phones? Not So Fast.

Over at (and linked at, Jonathan Singer notes that the new McClatchy Poll finds Democrats in a much stronger position on the generic ballot and he thinks he knows why “The Democrats' strength among registered voters comes directly from the cell-only population... This data buttresses the findings published earlier this month by Pew that if pollsters are skipping cell-only voters -- exactly the type of voters who are more likely to vote Democratic -- their results may simply be too favorable for the GOP."

The problem is, pollsters are not excluding cell phone users.'s Marc Blumenthal addressed this issue in a recent posting "At the national level, many organizations now routinely sample and call both landline and mobile phones. These include, in addition to the Pew Center, ABC News/Washington Post, AP/GfK, CBS News/New York Times, Gallup (both their daily tracking and the surveys in partnership with USA Today), Kaiser Family Foundation, McClatchy/Marist University, NBC News/Wall Street Journal and Newsweek."

Gallup, the most widely cited generic ballot pollster, has been including cell phones since 2008 and according their website "Gallup includes cell phones in each national Gallup poll. Further, cell phone-only households are now as likely to fall into national Gallup polls samples as those living in traditional landline households." Roughly 20% of households are cell phone only - and they are included in these national surveys.

If one looks at the recent polls at, it's clear that McClatchy is an outlier - I would advise against pinning Democratic hopes on some unmeasured mass of committed, eager to vote cell phone users (because they are in fact being measured). Could folks like Stu Rothenberg, Charlie Cook, and Larry Sabato be so shortsighted?