Even as Americans are less interested in participating in telephone surveys, polling firms are trying to keep up. Gallup has responded by making sure 50% of people contacted for polling samples are cell phone users:
Polling works only when it is truly representative of the population it seeks to understand. So, naturally, Gallup’s daily tracking political surveys include cellphone numbers, given how many Americans have given up on land lines altogether. But what’s kind of amazing is that it now makes sure that 50 percent of respondents in each poll are contacted via mobile numbers.
Gallup’s editor in chief, Frank Newport, wrote yesterday about the evolution of Gallup’s methods to remain “consistent with changes in the communication behavior and habits of those we are interviewing.” In the 1980s the company moved from door-to-door polling to phone calls. In 2008 it added cellphones. To reflect the growing number of Americans who have gone mobile-only, it has steadily increased the percentage of those numbers it contacts.
“If we were starting from scratch today,” Newport told Wired, “we would start with cellphones.”…
Although it may be a better reflection of society, mobile-phone polling is more expensive, says Newport. They have to call more numbers because the response rate is lower due to the nature of mobile communication.
As technology and social conventions change, researchers have to try and keep up. This is a difficult task, particularly if fewer people want to participate and technologies offer more and more options to screen out unknown requests. Where are we going next: polling by text? Utilizing well-used platforms like Facebook (where we know many people are turning every day)?