The Growing Gap between Landline and Dual Frame Election Polls

Nov 22, 2010

The number of Americans who rely solely or mostly on a cell phone has been growing for several years, posing an increasing likelihood that public opinion polls conducted only by landline telephone will be biased. A new analysis of Pew Research Center pre-election surveys conducted this year finds that support for Republican candidates was significantly higher in samples based only on landlines than in dual frame samples that combined landline and cell phone interviews. The difference in the margin among likely voters this year is about twice as large as in 2008.

Across three Pew Research polls conducted in fall 2010 -- conducted among 5,216 likely voters, including 1,712 interviewed on cell phones -- the GOP held a lead that was on average 5.1 percentage points larger in the landline sample than in the combined landline and cell phone sample.

In six polls conducted in the fall of 2008, Barack Obama's lead over John McCain was on average 2.4 percentage points smaller in the landline samples than in the combined samples.

Read the complete findings The Growing Gap between Landline and Dual Frame Election Polls on the Pew Research Center's Web site.

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