THE BLOG

More Cell Phone Survey News

05/20/2008 11:51 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

"Numbers Guy" Carl Bialik has a nice round-up of the latest developments in the "steady displacement of landline usage by cellphones" that is pushing some pollsters to "try to reach Americans on their cell phones."

Carl noticed something I had overlooked, namely that the most recent CBS/New York Times poll included a supplemental sample of cell phone numbers. Unlike Gallup, they do not yet see an impact on the results from the greater sample coverage:

Kathy Frankovic, director of surveys for CBS News, told me that “I haven’t seen any great difference in results, but it is still early.”

Frankovic confirms that all future national CBS polls will include a supplemental cell phone sample. In an email, she notes that they "have been working on incorporating a cell phone sample into our polls since late last year" and reminds us they incorporated a cell phone sample into their Iowa poll last year.

For those keeping track, that means that three national survey organizations -- Gallup, The Pew Research Center and CBS/New York Times -- now routinely include supplemental samples of cell phone numbers as part of their national political surveys. More will presumably follow.

The trend toward cell phone sampling raises a special challenge for the pollsters using the automated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) method in statewide surveys, because of the one regulatory barrier that affects cell phone interviewing. The federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) bans any sort of unsolicited call to a cell phone using "automated dialing devices." As Bialik points out, some pollsters are pushing for a change in that regulation:

The Council for Marketing and Opinion Research, a lobbying group for the survey industry based in Washington, D.C., is pushing Congress to exempt pollsters from the auto-dialer ban. LaToya Lang, the state legislative director for the group, calls this issue a “high priority.”

Bialik also highlights another bit of cell phone survey news I neglected to pass along from the AAPOR conference:

Recognizing that cellphone surveying is on the rise, last month the American Association for Public Opinion Research, a professional group, released a report offering guidelines for the practice. The report doesn’t call these “standards,” because more research is needed to determine how to conduct surveys via cellphone and how to blend the results with landline interviews.

After last year's AAPOR conference, I wrote a two-part series summarizing both the challenge to political surveys from the growth of cell-phone-only households and the experimental approaches pollsters are using to conduct interviews on cell phones. My interviews at this year's conference include a update from Steven Blumberg on the most recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and a report from Gallup's Jeff Jones comparing results on the presidential race with and without the supplemental cell phone interviews.