A comeback for door-to-door polling?

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Survey researchers are searching for ways to mitigate the cellphone-only problem. 


It's no secret that challenges for survey researchers are on the rise as more and more voters ditch their landline phones in favor of cellphones. Republican pollster Jim Burton thinks part of the solution may come in a return to door-to-door polling.    

At C&E’s annual Art of Political Campaigning conference Monday, Burton ventured that the door-to-door polling technique many international consultants employ in places like Iraq and Eastern Europe, could become more widely used here in the U.S. as the cellphone-only problem becomes more prevalent.   

“I actually think we’ll go back to door-to-door,” Burton, a partner at the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies, predicted. “It will cost a lot and take a lot longer, but that may be the direction.”

Burton spoke on the opening panel of the three-day conference alongside Democratic pollster Jef Pollock.

“It sucks,” Pollock said of the cellphone-only issue, noting the added costs for clients and the rapid rate at which voters are shedding landlines for cellphones. “That number is out of control.”

According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control, more than 30 percent of American households are cellphone-only, and most estimates have that increasing dramatically. Currently, most polling firms are supplementing their surveys with cellphone samples, but clients often balk at the added cost.  

For Pollock, the answer lies in a move toward online polling, which he said “is getting better by the day.”

“We’ll move with the times just like we always have,” said Pollock. “But I do think we’re moving toward online. Four years ago, we got some pushback when doing online testing. I don’t get the same pushback these days.”


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