Denver - Polls, sales and collectors are being hurt by people getting off the grid. When cell phones first came out in large numbers, users did not have to worry about unwanted phone calls. That has all changed.
And it is not good news for political pollsters. Laws prevent automated calls to mobile phones.“Data from Pew Research Center polling this year suggest that the bias is as large, and potentially even larger, than it was in 2008,” the group reports.As usual, technology goes in more than one direction, and sometimes it is unpredictable.One thing driving it is the desire of people to stop their phones ringing when they get home from work. For many, the last thing they want to hear from is a political survey taker. They may not even tell the truth if they do answer, of may just say what they think the pollster wants to hear to get them off the phone.It can become a goal, if not an obsession, to get off the grid, like the Johnny Depp character in “Transcendence.”A few minutes in front of Google can teach such people many tricks. Don’t give your phone number to anyone but family. Give them the mobile phone number you probably have as well as your landline.When you fill out a form on the Web, use a phony phone number.In some cases, lack of income may force people to pick up a socalled “disposable” phone at their supermarket.Not surprisingly, this means the bias of polls aimed mostly at landline phone users has increased even as pollsters have sought workarounds.Many, up to 25 percent in some research, have turned off their landline phones. It isn’t the only way to prevent unwanted calls, though.Many landline providers allow users to block calls, even add them to a list, just as apps would do on a mobile phone. All calls from those who block their caller ID can be turned away automatically. And caller ID is the last resort. No need to answer a call that is from someone unknown.It has been assumed that most people who turn off landline phones are from the younger generation. Research shows it also includes many from low-income groups. Texting may be their main method of communication.Drive down any major street in a U.S. city and you will see them, sometimes not even paying attention to traffic.Also driving the expanding use of mobile phones is the ability of many of them to surf the net. No need to go into your home office and set in front of a desktop, as you would at work.The bias created by this phenomenon is probably small, but could make a difference in close races.On issue after issue, from abortion to marijuana, cell phone-only users tend to side with Democrats. Polls that do not show women responding to ads promoting abortion rights and equal pay raise questions.Their constant use of texting could make it possible for America to see its own “Arab Spring” next month as Democrats use the social media to get their supporters to polls. In many cases it has already happened. The votes are cast.In the city of Denver, for example, three weeks before voting, more than a dozen Democrats visited one street in the city knocking on doors and ringing bells to push people to vote.