Pollsters fight to keep up with increasing cellphone use


Pollsters are fighting to keep up with the ever-increasing shift from landlines to cellphones. 

Pew Research announced Tuesday that 75 percent of its survey interviews in 2016 will be conducted over cellphones, a 10 percent increase over last year.

{mosads}During the 2012 election year, less half of Pew interviews were conducted over cellphone. 

The increase in cellphone calls means extra cost for pollsters. Unlike calls to traditional landlines, pollsters are barred from using autodialers or automated messages to reach cellphones. That means each number must be manually dialed.  

“Manually dialing cellphone numbers takes time, which increases interviewing costs,” Pew said, when announcing the change. “Each cellphone interview can cost almost twice as much as each landline interview.”

Some pollsters have also recently complained about new Federal Communications Commission rules that strengthened the definition of an autodialer, which critics say could increase the threat of litigation for pollsters. 

But Pew’s move to increase the number of cellphones reached is billed as a necessity to keep up with changing demographics. Forty-seven percent of homes use only cellphones, rather than landlines. And about 90 percent of adults own a cellphone.

Pew noted that people who only own a cellphone tend to be younger and live in urban areas. They are also more likely to have lower incomes and less education. Hispanics, part of a growing demographic group, are also more likely to use only cellphones.  

Other pollsters in recent years have also increasingly incorporated cellphones into their surveys but not at the rate Pew is taking on in 2016. 

A recent Fox News poll was comprised of about 50 percent cellphone interviews, while a similar CNN poll was about 39 percent cellphone interviews. ABC, which partners with Langer Research Associates, says 65 percent of its poll interviews are comprised of calls to cellphones.

Tags cellphone Pew Research pollster

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