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August 21, 2018
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Martinez, Denish and polling without cell phones (Listen)
(2010-10-15)
(KSFR) -
The latest political poll in New Mexico puts Republican gubernatorial candididate Susana Martinez with a 12-point lead over her Democratic rival Diane Denish. The survey was done for KOB-TV by a national firm named Survey USA.

The 12-point difference coincidentally happens to coincide with an expected "bias" in favor of Republicans turned up in research by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Pew Center. They found that telephone polling, such as that done by most all political pollsters, tends to give Republicans a 7 to 12 point edge if cell phones are not included in the survey. Today, 25 percent of all American households have only cell phone service.

Pew Associate Research Director Michael Dimock tells KSFR about further pitfalls in polling: (1) By law, cell phone numbers cannot be randomly dialed; (2) It's nearly impossible find cell phone numbers of "likely registered voters" on lists obtained from county clerks.; (3) The only way to identify a "likely voter" is to ask the question in a live interview with the person being polled.

According to their methology ((read it here), Survey USA uses a recording to ask questions and take answers. They also use computerized lists of phone numbers selected at random, which are not likely to include cell phones.

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