Do cell phones skew political polling results?

I’ve read that pollsters can’t call cell phones due to FCC restrictions. Many voters use cell phones as either a primary or ONLY means to make phone calls. So their views aren’t reflected in polling information of the last few months.

Have there been any major news stories reporting this phenomenon?

Any esrtimates how widespread this problem is?

I honestly don’t see it as much of a problem, but I did want to point out that a lot of legality issues with the FCC mandate that pollsters can’t call phones that charge the user are probably going to pop up as more and more people take advantage of number portability to take their home number to their cell phone. Given that the vast majority of phone number lists for registered voters were published before number portability was available, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few polling officials have been chewed out for calling Jane Doe on her cell phone, using her home number.

Heh. I think it’s funny you say you don’t see much of a problem, then immediately conceive of a problem that’s sure to grow in magnitude.

No, I’m saying that the problem is in the legality. I think pollers are going to have a harder time justifying phone polls if the law says that they can’t call numbers that charge the user, but they don’t know which numbers do or not. Whenever I put my number on anything, I always put my cell, not my home number.

I’ve yet to hear of a prepronderance of political viewpoint amongst cell phone users. Perhaps it’s the land line users we should consider. Do they lean one way or another?

USA Today story (that, for some reason, I can’t find on their own website):

People who have a cell phone but no land line tend to be young, and young people tend to be liberal (Cato study).

The classic example was the American Mercury poll in, what? 1932? 1936?, which predicted certain defeat for Roosevelt. This was an early telephone poll, which surveyed a random sample of people from the telephone book. What they missed, was that, at that time, people who had a telephone at home were significantly more affluent than the average. This seriously skewed the poll results.

This is a cautionary tale often told in classes on survey methodologies.

I could have sworn I started a thread on this, but now can’t find it to save my life.

Here’s a Newsday column on this very subject. 168 million cell phones, and probably a big chunk of those people have a cell phone only. Hence, no landline and no polling data.

Question is, will they get up off their duffs and vote?

According to, though I’m not sure where they got the information from, only about 5% of cell phone users are cell phone-exclusive. That sounds about right to me, though.

Ah, according to [URL=], it is the FCC who estimated 3-4%, and maybe up to 7-8%.

But it’s really not the 6-7% of the “only” folks you need to think about. You also have to consider all the younger people who might have both a land line and a cell phone but use the cell 99% of the time. I officially have both, but calling my home at anytime except when I’m sleeping or going to work is a very poor way to reach me.

I’ll be very interested to see how off the polls are when the election gets underway.

DRUDGE led me to Michael Moore, who asserts the 'polls are wrong because they omit cell phones" theory. Click here.

Also I have been sent a number of political survey emails, like ones from this company.

Are there any polls that publish the number of non-respondents in their samples?