Landline Vs. Cell Phone Vs. Dual Frame Election Polls

CivicForumPAC Chairman Ford O’Connell briefly touched on this issue in October on Fox News.

On Tuesday Pew noted that the number of Americans who rely solely or mostly on a cell phone has been growing for several years, posing an increasing likelihood that public opinion polls conducted only by landline telephone will be biased. A new analysis of Pew Research Center pre-election surveys conducted this year finds that support for Republican candidates was significantly higher in samples based only on landlines than in dual frame samples that combined landline and cell phone interviews. The difference in the margin among likely voters this year is about twice as large as in 2008.

The difference in estimates produced by landline and dual frame samples is a consequence not only of the inclusion of the cell phone-only voters who are missed by landline surveys, but also of those with both landline and cell phones — so called dual users — who are reached by cell phone. Dual users reached on their cell phone differ demographically and attitudinally from those reached on their landline phone. They are younger, more likely to be black or Hispanic, less likely to be college graduates, less conservative and more Democratic in their vote preference than dual users reached by landline.


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