By Robin Abcarian, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES — This just in from the technology-and-politics desk: A cell phone user who takes a pollster’s call is more likely to be a Democrat. A land-line user who takes a pollster’s call is more likely to be a Republican.
Gross generalization? Of course.
But it contains a kernel of truth, and gets at an issue that pollsters have been dealing with for years as more people disconnect land lines in favor of cell phones. In the aggregate, people who answer pollsters’ calls on their land lines tend to be more conservative than people who answer on cell phones.
That makes some sense, given that cell phone technology is newer, and younger people are — again, in general — better adapters.
A tidbit from three new NBC-Marist state polls — which surveyed registered voters in Virginia, Ohio and Florida about the presidential campaign — bears out the tele-generation gap.
In its story about the results, MSNBC’s First Read points out that in the Florida poll, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney “leads with land-line respondents, 48 percent-45 percent.” President Barack Obama “leads among cell phone respondents, 57-34 percent.”
The numbers were similar in Virginia, though not noted for Ohio. Slightly more than a quarter of those polled answered on their cell phones in all three states.
It’s hard to know whether this means anything to the campaigns, whose own sophisticated polling operations surely take into account these kinds of differences. “We don’t usually remark on any given poll,” said Obama campaign spokeswoman Katie Hogan. The Romney campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
It’s the oft-maligned polling profession that is struggling to adjust.
For a discussion of some of the challenges facing pollsters, the Pew Research Center investigated the cell phone-versus-land-line issue in 2010.
Pew reported 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 land-line telephone will be biased.”
Pew’s analysis of pre-election surveys that year found that “support for Republican candidates was significantly higher in samples based only on land lines than in … samples that combined land-line and cell phone interviews.”