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AAPOR Conference: Cell Phones Surveys

Topics: Cell Phones

On Monday, I linked to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) showing that 12.8% of American households had only wireless phones (and no land line phones) during the second half of 2006. "I don't know how this impacts traditional polling techniques," MyDD's Matt Stoller noted on Tuesday, "but I am curious."

Well, funny he should ask. The released of the NCHS report was timed, in part, to coincide with the annual conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) which I am attending in Anaheim, California. One thing I can report is that the community of survey researchers continues to take the trend toward wireless only households very seriously (as they have at AAPOR conferences for the last four or five years).

Today, Stephen Steven Blumberg of NCHS presented his findings in greater detail to a standing room audience of academic and professional survey researchers at the conference. Their report is one of twenty-two research papers, plus a panel discussion and a mini-course being presented here just on the subject of mobile phones and their impact on polling. Many of these papers describe pilot studies involving interviews conducted with respondents on their cell phones.

We often say that political polling is a mix of both science and art. One of the things I appreciate most about these AAPOR meetings is the exposure I get to the true science of this profession, which as of late has focused on the issue of how to conduct surveys on cell phones. One thing that many here I spoke with seem to agree on is that by 2008, many of the national news media pollsters are considering adding some "cell phone component" to their surveys.

I am certain I will have more to report in the weeks following the conference, although as a result of the conference, my blogging has been light this week. For better or worse, I wear many hats at AAPOR: I serve on the organization's executive council, I will be presenting a paper with Charles Franklin tomorrow (which we hope to roll out on the blog next week) and I try to attend as many sessions as possible and absorb all that the conference has to offer.

 

Comments
Matt Stoller:

I'm eager to hear more.

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Tamar:

I've been wondering about the cell phone phenomena for several years -- my 20-something nieces and nephews use cell phones exclusively. I think the cell phone/no landline situation is particularly prevalent among people younger than 30. if this is true, it would mean that the 12.8% overall rate is the tip of the iceberg -- the rate is probably far higher among young people, and that would certainly skew any research that depends on landline surveys.
I know Steve Blumberg through his work on the SLAITS (state and local integrated telephone survey) which started as the national immunization survey and has grown to encompass a fair amount of health data, particularly on children. He's a very fine and careful statistician and I would trust any insights he has.

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