Thursday, September 20, 2012

Polls That Include Cell Phone Only Voters Give Obama A Big Lead!

Fox News released a new poll Thursday showing that President Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney in three battleground states, topping off a week of bad-news polling for the Republican presidential nominee in toss-up states.

The poll, which covered Ohio, Virginia and Florida, shows Obama leading Romney by seven points in both Ohio (49 to 42 percent) and Virginia (50 to 43 percent). In Florida, Obama leads by five points (49 to 44 percent), which is within the poll's margin of error. Obama won all three states in 2008, marking the first time Virginia voted for a Democratic president since 1964.

In Michigan and Wisconsin, Obama has also opened up a lead against his rival: A CNN poll puts him up eight points in Michigan (52 to 44 percent), and one from Marquette Law School has Obama leading Romney by 14 points in Wisconsin (54 to 40 percent). In August, Obama led Romney in Wisconsin by only three points.

New York Times pollster Nate Silver notes that Obama tends to do better against Romney in polls that include cell phones and use live interviewers instead of automated questions.  Silver writes that Obama has shown a clear lead in the 16 cell phone-inclusive polls of seven top battleground states taken since the convention. (The Fox, CNN and Marquette Law School polls all included cell phone respondents.)  On average, Obama has a 5.8 percentage point lead in surveys that include properly weighted cell phone (only) respondents.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted September 12-16, 2012 among 3,019 adults, including properly weighted cell phone only respondents, finds that Obama has an eight-point lead over Mitt Romney among likely voters on which candidate gets their vote.  Not only does Obama enjoy a substantial lead on Pew's ballot preference question, he tops Romney in a number of other key categories, too.  Obama continues to be the more likable candidate by a substantial margin; his favorability rating has risen to 55% from 50% in late July, with only 42% now expressing an unfavorable view of him.

Pew Research Center leads other public polling organizations for polling expertise in our increasingly cell phone only society.

The number of Americans who have no landline phone service, who rely solely or mostly on cell phone service, has been growing for several years.  The cell phone only trend poses an increasing likelihood that public opinion polls conducted only or mostly to landline phone respondents have a conservative bias.

Analysis by Pew Research Center in 2010 shows support for Republican candidates is significantly higher in polls calling only or mostly landline respondents, than in dual frame surveys that combined properly weighted landline and cell phone respondent polling.

Pew Research found in 2010 up to a 10 point conservative bias gap between those who could be reached by landline and those who could be reached only by cell phone. Those who have gone cell phone only hold significantly more progressive / liberal political views than those who can still be polled by landline live or automated robo calls. This gap has likely widened over the last two years.

Preliminary results from the July–December 2011 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) shows that the number of American homes with only cell phone service continues to grow.  One-third of American homes (34.0%) had only cell phone service during the last half of 2011 — an increase of 2.4 percentage points from the first half of 2011.  On top of that number, an additional 16 percent of American homes that still have landine (copper wire or digital VIOP) phone service answer incoming voice calls only on their cell phones, despite also having a landline phone in their home.

For the period July–December 2011, there are four predominately cell phone only household demographic groups that strongly identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party:
  1. Nearly 6 in 10 adults aged 25–29 (59.6%) lived in households with only wireless telephones. This rate is greater than the rates for adults aged 18–24 (48.6%) or 30–34 (50.9%). The percentage of adults living in households with only wireless telephones decreased as age increased beyond 35 years: 36.8% for those aged 35–44; 23.8% for those aged 45–64; and 8.5% for those aged 65 and over. 
  2. More than three in four adults living only with unrelated adult roommates (77.5%) were in households with only wireless telephones. This rate is nearly twice as high as the rate for adults living alone (41.3%) and three times as high as the rate for adults living only with spouses or other adult family members (25.1%).
  3. More than half of all adults renting their home (56.0%) had only wireless telephones. This rate is more than twice as large as the rate for adults owning their home (21.2%). 
  4. Adults living in poverty (51.4%) were more likely than adults living near poverty (39.6%) and higher income adults (28.9%) to be living in households with only wireless telephones.
The graph below depicts the cell phone only adoption trend by age group.  A majority of younger more progressive American voters can now be reached only by cell phone voice calls and text messaging.  It is only the older (increasingly more conservative GOP) age groups that can still be reached by landline phone for voice and automated robo-call survey and GOTV phone bank contact. But even the older age groups are slowing going cell phone only.

Metro areas often have even higher cell-only adoption rates than the state as a whole. In Texas, at the end of 2010, 43.2% of households in Dallas County are wireless only. But the "wireless mostly" number adds 17.7% to that number according to a CDC survey.  Combine those numbers and almost 61% of Dallas County households rely primarily or exclusively on mobile phones for voice contact. The combined figure approaches or exceeds 50% of the population in most metro areas of Texas:
  • Dallas County: Cell-Only (43.2%) + Cell-Mostly (17.7%) = 61.9%
  • Bexar County: Cell-Only (29.1%) + Cell-Mostly (17.7%) = 46.8%
  • El Paso County: Cell-Only (32.8%) + Cell-Mostly (14.8%) = 47.6%
  • Harris County: Cell-Only (32.4%) + Cell-Mostly (22.1%) = 54.5%


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