Here is a fascinating report from Pew Research Center indicating the bias of cell phone-only respondents to political polls.Pew has conducted three surveys on presidential candidate preferences since the primaries ended. In each case, they isolated the responses of individuals who reported using cell phones only.Amongst these respondents, Obama holds a significant advantage (10-15 percentage points), whereas among respondents who use landlines, or landlines and cellphones, Obama and McCain are running a dead heat.Here’s Pew’s explanation:“In large part, this reflects the fact that a substantial minority of the cell-only sample is younger than 30 – a demographic group that has consistently backed Obama this year. Traditional landline surveys are typically weighted to compensate for age and other demographic differences, but the process depends on the assumption that the people reached over landlines are similar politically to their cell-only counterparts. These surveys suggest that this assumption is increasingly questionable, particularly among younger people.”Looking only at registered voters under age 30, 39% of these voters reached by landline favor McCain, compared with just 27% of cell-only respondents. Obama is backed by 52% of landline respondents under 30, compared with 62% of the cell-only.Pew further reports that while 18-29-year-olds reached by cell phone tend to report less experience voting than their landline counterparts (e.g., fewer voted in 2004), they express just as much intention to vote this year. Looking at past voting behavior, just 23% of cell-only young respondents say they “always vote,” compared with 41% among the landline respondents.We’ll see in a few weeks whether “Cell Phoners for Obama” has any juice in the real voting world.But politics aside, if your nonprofit does survey research by phone (we at The Agitator, via DonorTrends, do all our research online), you need to consider the Pew findings carefully from a methodological standpoint. Particularly if you’re trying to probe the post-Boomer generations, the choice of contact medium appears now to make a significant difference. Cell-only users are a unique tribe. You’ll need to get to know them.Has anyone out there generated donor/member survey research using cell phone respondents? What patterns have you seen?Tom

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