Pollsters Look to Cellphones to Reach Voters

As most groups switch to cell phones only, pollsters are looking at new ways to reach voters.

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What might be coming to your cellphone in time for the 2012 elections? Questions from political pollsters. "If we don't do that in 2012 or '14, this industry is going to collapse because too much of a percent of the vote won't be tracked," says Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies. At issue is counting Hispanics and voters up to 35 years old who have switched exclusively to cellphones, a trend that's expanding to all groups. Without counting them, polls won't be as accurate as they were in the 2010 elections. The problem, says McInturff, is that the law bars automated dialing of cellular phones. And only the richest pollsters and clients can afford human dialing. So he wants an exemption for candidates-only to use auto-dialing for their polls. That would keep the door closed to marketing. But even then, say other pollsters, it might not work because cellphone users don't like to participate in long surveys. That's why pollsters like U.S. News contributor John Zogby have turned to the Internet to ask their questions. "The cellphone phenomenon is only going to grow, and culturally it's not acceptable to do long surveys. That's an invasion," says Zogby.

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