The cellphone brigade and why the polls may be wrong

In the last few weeks, I have been on college and high school campuses all over the country—from the University of Miami for the first Presidential debate, to the two high schools I’m visiting today in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I keep seeing the same thing— young people energized in a way that I have not seen in my entire 30 years of politics.

Yet most of the polling I have seen doe not reflect any expectation of a higher turnout than usual among these younger voters. I suspect that cell phones are the reason for this.
Pollsters have not come up with an effective means to conduct or even contact survey respondents who only use cell phones. But think of the explosive growth in cell phone usage (particularly among the young) over the past four years.

So if we are seeing, as I think we are, an increase in energy and commitment to vote among young people than at any other time in my lifetime— and at the same time pollsters lack the ability to reach young people and measure this rise in civic participation— then we have the ingredients for a big surprise on election day.

I can’t wait for tomorrow night’s debate and if there is any further movement in the polls afterwards—but I am becoming convinced that John Kerry is doing far better than the pollsters are findings these days.

If Kerry wins in November, and the election is not as close as it now seems, the surprise may come at the hands of young people armed with cell phones the experts could not measure.


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