TV3 News on Polling Cellphone Users – Only A Year Late

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Over a year ago, in March 2013, I raised the issue of cellphone users  not being polled  by the major polling companies, with the exception of Roy Morgan. To polling companies such as Reid Research, UMR, Ipsos, Colmar Brunton, Digipoll, etc, people who rely solely on cellphones are “invisible” when it comes to surveying.

As I wrote on 8 March last year,

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“If the numbers of households without a landline are significant (+/- 10%), then polling companies will either have to adjust their polling techniques – or be rendered useless. Without factoring in cellphone-only households, polling companies risk becoming an expensive ‘parlour game’ with little value.”

The importance of this fact was highlighted in last year’s Census, which reported on 3 December 2013 that  14.5% of households did not have access to a landline,

Access to a landline telephone decreased. In 2013, 85.5 percent of households had access to a landline telephone at home, down from 91.6 percent in 2006.”

I then wrote on 12 December,

“Low income families may not necessarily have credit on their cellphones – but that does not prevent polling companies from phoning in, to cellphone owners. As I blogged on 1 September, when Roy Morgan phoned me on my cellphone (see:  Mr Morgan phoned).

The up-shot of this census result is twofold;

  1. As the only pollster to call respondants’ cellphones, Roy Morgan is the most credible polling company and the one to watch.

  2. Expect other polling companies to follow suit and call respondants via their cellphones – or risk being ignored and becoming irrelevant.”

It was therefore amusing to see this TV3 “news” story on 6 July

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Cellphones make political polling tricky - tv3 - emma jolliff

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As the story stated;

The rise of the mobile phone is casting a shadow over the reliability of traditional telephone polling…

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In fact, he says it is not just young people who are rejecting landlines. The latest census data shows 86 percent of households have a landline, down from 92 percent in 2006.

That means 14 percent of households don’t have a landline and because there is no directory of mobile phone numbers those people are essentially off the grid to pollsters.

Only sixteen months since I raised the issue.

And only eight months since I pointed out that the increasing sole-reliance on cellphones in many households made land-line-calling, as a sole means of contacting respondents, somewhat dubious.

Interestingly, TV3 journo, Emma Jolliff – who penned the story – wrote,

“…because there is no directory of mobile phone numbers those people are essentially off the grid to pollsters.”

Which is total rubbish. Any journo writing such crap has obviously failed to do his/her homework.  A “directory of mobile numbers” is not required. I evidence that with my own situation when Roy Morgan phoned me on 31 August 2013on my cellphone.

In fact, Roy Morgan is the only polling company to conduct its surveys by calling respondents on their cellphones;

“Electors were asked: “If a New Zealand Election were held today which party would receive your party vote?” This latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll on voting intention was conducted by telephone – both landline and mobile telephone, with a NZ wide cross-section of 817 electors from June 16-29, 2014. Of all electors surveyed 5.5% (up 0.5%) didn’t name a party.”

So unless Roy Morgan is telling lies on it’s website, and I had a hallucinatory moment in August last year, Ms Jolliff doesn’t know what she is talking about. Not surprising for the Media in this country whose work has become more sloppy, superficial, and sensationalist with each passing year.

Bloggers up and down this country have been well aware of the limitations of polling companies which preclude contacting respondents by cellphone. It has been a fairly well-discussed issue for well over a year.

For TV3 to now run a “news” story on this issue shows how dangerously out of touch the mainstream media is in New Zealand.

I wonder when we’ll hear from a media company that David Cunliffe was elected Leader of the Labour Party?

Maybe “news” doesn’t necessarily have to be “new” after all?

As long as it sells advertising.

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References

Stats NZ: Release Calendar

Stats NZ: 2013 Census QuickStats about national highlights –  Phone and Internet access

TV3: Cellphones make political polling tricky

Roy Morgan: National (48%) down but still holds clear election winning lead over Labour/ Greens (40%)

Previous related blogposts

Dodgy polls, dodgy dealings, and a spot of fear-mongering

Mr Morgan phoned

Census, Surveys, and Cellphones

Census, Surveys, and Cellphones (Part rua)

 


 

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david cunliffe stood up on the issue of domestic violence

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Frank

    Thanks for pointing out the error in that story about a cell directory being required – it drove me nuts!

    I do need some help to understand your logic a bit though, about the problem created by the landline/cell phone issue.

    If decreasing landline coverage and non-coverage of young and low income households is such a big problem for polls, how come they’ve consistently over-estimated Green Party support just prior to the elections? And how come they’re nearly spot-on for the Labour Party?

    See Gavin White’s blog: http://sayit.co.nz/blog/what-political-polls-tell-us

    Wouldn’t we expect the polls to underestimate support for both of these parties?

    Cheers
    Andrew

    • Kia ora Andrew…

      If decreasing landline coverage and non-coverage of young and low income households is such a big problem for polls, how come they’ve consistently over-estimated Green Party support just prior to the elections? And how come they’re nearly spot-on for the Labour Party?

      Not sure that statement is correct, Andrew. I refer you to the second graph on my 8 March 2013 blogpost (http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/census-surveys-and-cellphones/), which shows a wide range of polling results for Labour and the Greens from Roy Morgan, TVNZ/Colmar Brunton, and
      Fairfax/Media Research.

      Labour was polling Labour 23.5% (Roy Morgan), 28% (TVNZ/Colmar Brunton), and 26% (Fairfax/Media Research).

      The election result was: 27.48%

      Colmar Brunton was fairly close; followed by Media Research, with Roy Morgan out by 3.98 percentage points.

      The Green Party was polling 14.5% (Roy Morgan), 10% (TVNZ/Colmar Brunton), and 12% (Fairfax/Media Research).

      The election result was 11.06%.

      Colmar Brunton under-estimated the Green vote; Media Research was close; and Roy Morgan was way over.

  2. Now and then some journalists working for the MSM comes up with a report on what is actually going on, but the times it happens are far and between, and such items swiftly move out of the public focus again, because they have to make room for the predominant trivia, scandal, gossipy and petty topics, which are presented in abundance.

    So facts are swiftly forgotten, not repeated, not further researched and pass the attention span of most.

    The same has happened with this news item, and it seems the MSM only intersperses the majority crap they report with such items, simply to be able to claim, they are offering “balanced” reporting. It is all a sick joke, and only public and community broadcasting, forced to deliver a balance and to report researched facts will change this.

    Under this government we will not get the latter, as it is NOT wanted. Dumb and numb is how they want us all to be, that is Key, English, Joyce, Collins, Bennett and the rest of them.

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