Two new polls out find that people who still answer land-line phones and are willing to talk to pollsters are more likely to be confused by “Pro-Life” and “Pro-Choice” labels than in previous surveys – or is it the other way around? Hard to tell.
The news, of course, is that Gallup has announced a dramatic shift in how people label themselves on the abortion issue. A year ago, 50% chose “Pro-Choice” with 44% choosing “Pro-Life.” Gallup’s new survey shows those figures have flopped and now only 44% now choose “Pro-Choice” with “Pro-Life” coming in at 51%. A dramatic 7% increase for “Pro-Life” in one year. Something significant must have occurred this year. I wonder what it was?
People choosing the label, “Republican” who also chose the label, “Pro-Life” increased from 60% to 70%. There was basically no change with “Democrats” coming in at 61% “Pro-Choice.” It seems safe to assume that the branding war conducted by axis of virtue (the church, Limbaugh and Fox), at least with Republicans, has tipped to the “Pro-Life” label. Or, has it?
Admittedly, “Life” trumps “Choice” on the importance list for almost everyone not specifically talking about a woman’s right to choose. As trick questions go, this has always been one. Let’s face it, most Americans couldn’t name their governor or find Washington, DC on a map (though, most could name the American Idol finalists), so it may just be that they guessed right (as in, far right).
Perhaps we need to look at another survey. Gallup says those choosing to label themselves as “Republican” is down. Their most recent survey showed 27% of the people that agreed to answer their call, labeled themselves “Republican,” compared to 36% who labeled themselves “Democrat” – there is an even greater spread when Gallup included those leaning Republican or Democrat. No, that doesn’t explain it. Assuming, and maybe I shouldn’t, that Gallup reached a representative sample of “Republican” and “Democrat,” and the “Independents” split, the survey should have been overwhelming “Pro-Choice.” What other explanation could explain the results?
Oh. I know. I know. I think, I know. Teacher call on me… Gallup calls are a sample of adults weighted by demographics (gender, age and race to match the accuracy of the US Census), but not party affiliation. The pollsters called about 15,000 homes with land-line telephones to get 1,015 to agree to the interviews, of which, they used 971. Federal law forbids pollsters from using computers to place calls to wireless phones and it is really, really expensive for surveys to have “people” dial to get enough people to agree to talk to a pollster. To Gallup’s credit, they also called a “supplemental sample” of cell-phone-only households which Gallup says is based on up to 15% of the population. Problem is, the number of households who don’t use land-lines is over 35% (according to the CDC survey). The CDC survey also found that those who do still use land-lines are older, dumber, whiter, richer, and, apparently, Republicans.
Whew. For a news cycle (AKA: a moment), I thought something significant had occurred.
- 20% of US homes (21.3% in the South) no longer have land-lines. For people living together, but not married, the figure is 61%. For people living alone, it’s 28%. For renters, it’s 40%. For people under 30, it is 40%. And nearly 55% for people who are near or below the poverty line.
- Add another 15% have both land-lines and cell phones, but take few or no calls on their land-lines, often because they are wired into computers – combined with wireless only homes, that means that over 35 percent of households – more than one in three – are basically reachable only on cell phones.
- Add to that all the homes that have given up phones due to the economy since the survey was completed (December 2008).
- The survey also reported that those still reachable by pollsters are 37% more likely to binge drink, less likely to have college degrees, more likely to live in rural areas, and much more likely to be non-Hispanic whites.