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Gallup Adds Cell Phone Interviewing

Topics: 2008 , Cell Phones , The 2008 Race

One interesting new wrinkle on the latest USA Today/Gallup survey. Editor in chief Frank Newport tells us on his Gallup Guru blog that, starting with this survey, Gallup will regularly sample cell phones:

[A]s of Jan. 1, 2008, Gallup has made the decision to include cell phone interviewing as part of the sample used for its general population studies.

This is a complex and costly modification in methodology. Our statisticians and methodologists have spent a great deal of time reviewing the procedures and implications of the change. Essentially, in addition to sampling from the traditional database of all landline telephone exchanges, Gallup now also adds in sampling from a new database of all cell phone telephone exchanges in the country. We screen for those individuals using cell phones who report not having a landline, and then interview a random sample thereof. We then weigh into the sample a proportionate percentage of these interviews conducted via cell phone.

For now, at least, this change is not likely to produce dramatic differences in the results. The ongoing cell phone surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center have shown that the missing cell-phone-only population rarely makes a difference of more than a point or two. But that point or two may sometimes make a difference, especially in a close race. Consider last week's Gallup poll in New Hampshire. USA Today polling editor Jim Norman let us know, via email, that they included a cell-phone sample on that survey:

[I]t added a point to Obama's total and took one away from Clinton. In other words, without the cell-phone-only respondents, Obama's lead among likely voters was 11, not 13.

The bigger significance in this change is symbolic. Gallup is the granddaddy of all polling firms. Their polling "time series" goes back to the 1930s. As such, they are typically the most cautious about changes in methodology, so their move to regular cell-phone sampling is likely to have a big ripple effect on the polling industry. At very least, this most closely watched poll will provide a regular source of data on the potential impact of the cell-phone-only households that will be missing from other surveys.

Norman also sent a long the actual text of questions used to identify and screen for cell-phone-only households. I have posted it after the jump.

INTRODUCTION: Hello I am __________________ calling from The Gallup Poll. We are conducting a survey of cell phone owners today.

SC1. First, to confirm, have I reached you on your cell phone?
(2120)
1 Yes CONTINUE
2 No THANK AND TERMINATE
3 DON’T KNOW THANK AND TERMINATE
4 REFUSED THANK AND TERMINATE

SC2. For your safety, are you currently driving?
(2222)
1 Yes SET TIME TO CALL BACK
2 No CONTINUE
3 DON’T KNOW THANK AND TERMINATE
4 REFUSED THANK AND TERMINATE

SC3. In addition to a cell phone, do you also have regular landline telephone service in your home?
(2223)
1 Yes CONTINUE
2 No SKIP TO SC5
3 DON’T KNOW THANK AND TERMINATE
4 REFUSED THANK AND TERMINATE

SC4. [IF ‘1’ IN SC3, ASK:] Do you use that landline telephone to make and receive calls, or is it only used for other purposes such as connecting to the Internet, connecting to a fax machine, or for business purposes?
(2224)
1 Use to make and receive calls THANK AND TERMINATE
2 Only used for fax, etc. CONTINUE
3 DON’T KNOW THANK AND TERMINATE
4 REFUSED THANK AND TERMINATE

SC5. Is the cell phone I have reached you on mainly used for personal use, or only for business purposes?(2121)
1 Personal use CONTINUE
2 Used only for business THANK AND TERMINATE
3 BOTH (vol.) CONTINUE
4 DON’T KNOW THANK AND TERMINATE
5 REFUSED THANK AND TERMINATE

 

Comments
Kevin:

As both a young, cell-phone only citizen and a graduate student who uses survey analysis to study American public opinion, I'd like to thank Gallup for taking on this task. However, I'd like to hear more about the sampling protocols. My cell phone number reflects where I went to undergrad, not where I live (and vote, for what it's worth) now. I know that I'm not alone living outside my cell phone's area code (never mind exchange area) and without a land line. How does Gallup plan to deal with this reality in its sampling strategy?

____________________

ozzie:

Gallup polling quantionnaire has some problems. It would be difficult to reach people on a cell phone and get opinion. Plus most cell phone users tend to be 40 -. Gallup adds another item to its menu to make inaccurate predictions...

____________________

James Medick:

is the cell phone respondent compensated for their time?

____________________

Madison_O:

Many others including Skype will be offering mVOIP for your phone's internet connection. This new kind of phone service won't send you running for cash advance. Skype network users can purchase a cell phone that works with their Skype accounts, and it uses voice over internet protocol, which means that you aren't using normal phone frequencies. You're making a call and text messaging over the internet,essentially a mobile chat platform, that also makes calls. Calling other Skype users is free, and you can even get a normalcell phone number that normal cell phone users can call for a minimal fee, far below what you would normally pay for cellular phone service.

____________________

John:

The technical progress is dictating us the rools. We are ready to pay more in order to make our everyday lives more convenient and modern. Then we quickly get used to the comfort and our demands grow from day to day. At last we find ourselves overloaded with bills, credits and payday lendings.

____________________



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