During last month's conference of the American Association
for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), I mentioned
the many papers being presented on the growth of cell-phone-only households and
promised to report back. I have been digging through the many papers ever
since, and have been working on some analysis on the subject which, in the
crush of new charts and other activity around here, I have yet to post.
Fortunately, Scott Keeter, the director of survey research
at the Pew Research Center,
has posted a concise
and accessible review of the cell phone challenge to surveys. The Pew Center
has been at the forefront of research and development on this subject,
conducting four pilot studies over the last two years that interviewed people
with cell phones over their cell phones.
The summary is well worth reading in full, but for those in
a rush, here is Keeter's view of where things are heading:
Pollsters recognize that some type
of accommodation for the cell-only population will have to be made eventually,
as was clear from the large amount of research on the topic presented at the
AAPOR conference last month. In addition to the use of so-called "dual
frame samples" such as those described above (calling both a cell phone
sample and a landline sample), practitioners are discussing other alternatives,
including the establishment of panels of cell-only respondents that can be
surveyed periodically to track their opinions, and employing mail or internet
surveys to reach the cell-only population.
For those who want more detail, I can also highly recommend
the longer paper he
presented at the AAPOR conference (co-authored with Courtney Kennedy and April
Clark of the Pew Center and Trevor Thompson and Mike
Mokrzycki of the Associated Press) which Keeter has now posted online. Of all
the papers I have reviewed, it was easily the best review of the issues most
relevant to the political surveys we all obsess over.