Cell Phones May Skew Political Polls

If a new Consumer Electronics Association survey is right, the shift to cell-phone-only phone service may have left as many as 8 million people out of those presidential polls on which the media so rely.

That technological shift for some away from land-lines may also have artificially boosted the numbers for President George W. Bush.

Democrats were found to be more likely to screen their calls (44% vs. 23% for Republicans) and to answer them at home using cell phones. Cell phone-only users are much less likely to be polled, according to CEA.

"Number portability, advanced text messaging and voicemail features, and most importantly, falling prices for service plans are all allowing more and more consumers to cut the cord to their traditional landline services," said CEA President/CEO Gary Shapiro, which he says is "without question" making it more difficult for pollsters to get an accurate read on state, local and national races.

CEA's own research--which was conducted online of 568 likely voters--found cell phone users much less likely to be polled--10% receiving such solicitations vs. almost 30% with traditional land lines.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.