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Hardest Hit: Reaching Low-Wage Workers

It's that time of year again, a mid-summer treasure trove of data for the Post Polling Department: We have just released our latest in-depth project conducted with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University. This time around, the survey focuses in on low-wage workers, a segment of the population on the edge of the teetering economy and one that could prove critical to the upcoming presidential election.

The series' first two installments began to explore the experiences and attitudes that shape the group (found here and here; watch for future articles in the coming weeks at the Hardest Hit homepage, found here), and here on Behind the Numbers, we begin with a look at the hottest methodological question in survey research: cell phones.

For this poll, we conducted interviews via traditional, landline telephone and also by cell phone. By including cell phone interviews in this survey, we improved our chances of reaching low-wage workers - as federal statistics show those who have cellular service but no traditional home phone are disproportionately lower-income, young and Hispanic - but did not find a significant impact on the results.

On the presidential vote question, for example, if there had been no cell phone interviews, Obama would have had a 59 to 28 percent advantage over McCain among low-wage workers who are registered to vote. That is virtually identical to his 58 to 28 percent lead among registered voters for the full sample, including the cell phone interviews.

Presidential Vote

All RVs


Landline Only


Looking at financial security, a baseline question for this study, the distribution is nearly identical among those reached only by landline phone and among the blended sample of cell and landline interviews.

Financial Security

All RVs


Landline Only


In at least one instance, the differences noted by the CDC's National Health Interview Study held up in our polling as well. Respondents interviewed by cell phone (largely comprised of those in cell-phone only households) were less likely to be covered by health insurance. Three-quarters of low-wage workers interviewed by landline said they were covered by some type of health insurance, 64 percent of those reached on cell phones said the same.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  August 6, 2008; 3:45 PM ET
Categories:  Low-Wage Workers  
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"That is virtually identical to his 58 to 28 percent lead among registered voters for the full sample, including the cell phone interviews."

Since what is interesting and new is the number of Cellphone only housholds, I find it curious that your groupings are "landline only" and "landline and cellphone combined".

Why not "cellphone only"?

Frome looking at the full Pew report:

we see that that cellphone only households are indeed quite different:
For landline only, Obama leads 46/41
For cellphone only, Obama leads 61/32

This huge difference is masked when the two groups are combined because the number of cellphone only households is smaller and thus weighted less.

Posted by: Sid | August 11, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Sid, I could not find the poll numbers that you mentioned: "For landline only, Obama leads 46/41. For cellphone only, Obama leads 61/32." In the article's link that you posted.

Posted by: Berk | August 14, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

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