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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

What happened to the cell phone vote?

From my vantage point over here in Israel, I followed various polls leading up to the presidential election. One of the factors that kept appearing as a footnote in articles that sought to dissect the poll results was the fact that the overwhelming majority of the polling was done via land-line phones.

According to the talking heads and print journalists who had the misfortune to be assigned to the 'poll beat', the statistical dead heat that existed during much of the last week or two before election day, required an asterisk. That asterisk, they explained, referenced the unpolled hordes of young people who communicate with the outside world exclusively by cell phone.

If you think about it, these national polls probably failed to reach most college students, and even quite a good number of recent graduates because the few that have land line phones in their dorm rooms and apartments are not likely to be listed in the established phone number registries used by pollsters... ... and these young people were largely in Kerry's camp.

So what happened to these voters? I know I shouldn't use the past tense with Ohio still technically in play. But given the huge number of probable Kerry supporters on college campuses and in relatively transient housing, it's odd that the popular vote didn't turn out to be all that close.

The only answer I can come up with is that the 18 - 24 demographic once again acted like kids instead of like young adults. Instead of stepping up and voting in an election that is going to impact them beyond their wildest dreams, they opted out.

As I noted in yesterday's post, I have the luxury of seeing the glass as half full no matter who ultimately is declared the winner. If Kerry somehow pulls out a Red Sox style miracle in Ohio, he will take important steps to repair the domestic damage that has been done to the U.S. economy and environment. And if Bush wins, he will likely continue a policy of letting Israel do what is best for Israel. This may sound like a small thing, but previous administrations have had disastrous policies of pressuring Israel to make unilateral concessions to people who declare their intent to kill us. And hthey have also stubbornly adopted an unfathomable policy of assuming moral equivalency between Israeli civilian and Palestinian combatant deaths.

On an unrelated note, I truly appreciate all the insightful comments I got on yesterday's post. I was having a great deal of difficulty grappling with the ethical aspects of voting as an expat. Not about voting, per se. But rather about voting to benefit the interests of a foreign power and not the U.S. Your comments helped crystallize the various issues for me, and I have a better sense now of where my responsibilities lie.

I'm just sad that America's young people didn't take the time to examine their own ethical dilemma as closely... the ethical dilemma of not voting at all.

Shame226_1_1

Posted by David Bogner on November 3, 2004 | Permalink

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Tracked on Nov 3, 2004 8:46:18 PM

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The cell-phone vote thing was an oversimplification - certainly there are people the pollsters could not reach because they don't have publically listed land lines. But there is also another - and possibly larger - group that were inaccessible: those with call blocking.

Some people - especially telemarketers - block caller ID on their phones, so that the people they call cannot call them back and harass them. So many of us have our lines set up so to reject or screen such callers. I suspect that pollsters are thus prevented from getting through to these people as well, and it is likely that this population is overwhelmingly preoccupied with privacy and security - hence leans towards Bush.

Posted by: russ | Nov 3, 2004 6:21:01 PM

I've heard that 17% of the 18-24 year olds voted this election - same percentage as last time, which would mean a few more showed up, but not too many.

Posted by: Beth | Nov 3, 2004 7:14:32 PM

Russ... Good point, but still think that the number of college students and recent graduates nationwide has to be a much larger (not to mention overwhelmingly Left Wing) voting block than the phone block crowd.

Beth... What a horrible statistic! I knew it had to be bad, but 17%????

Posted by: David | Nov 3, 2004 8:19:41 PM

But it rained!

Posted by: Tanya | Nov 3, 2004 9:22:11 PM

Yes... that "wonderous" 18 - 24 group bailed on us big time. Which is why I'm sitting here staring at the naked ugly reality that Bush is going to be haunting my days for yet another 4 years.

::sigh::

Posted by: Tina | Nov 3, 2004 10:11:51 PM

!)(*&%! [email protected][email protected]$()*& !_)($(!*^ _)!#@$*#$ ^ !(@*)!&@ [email protected]^#(*&@ % )[email protected]#(*&!$ )!$

Posted by: Jim | Nov 4, 2004 12:20:40 AM

The country is not going to disappear or go up in flames. If you don't like the direction things go in get active and do something about it.

Posted by: Jack | Nov 4, 2004 12:22:17 AM

Jack,

I am. We are.

Posted by: Jim | Nov 4, 2004 1:34:49 AM

Tanya... The scary part is it might be something just that simple! If not rain, then maybe they just plain forgot ["Dude! Was election day on Tuesday??? I totally blew that one, huh? heh heh heh..."] I'm sure the draft notices will get their attention, though! :-)

Tina... Just be proud of your candidate that he was big enough to concede like a gentleman. The country is almost equally divided between far right and far left... and there are almost no people (except me, of course) left in the middle. By conductiong himself well at the end, Kerry will hopefully serve as an example and help bring the country together.

Jim... I must not have that font installed on my computer! :-) But I catch your drift. I'll tell you what I've been thinking all along: This is America's opportunity to really explore the role of an opposition party. They have never truly mastered this concept.

Jack... Wonderful point. Too many people get involved in politics only during the campaign, and then go to sleep for four years. No matter who you were rooting for, the time to be engaged in the political process starts after the election!

Posted by: David | Nov 4, 2004 9:07:54 AM

The percentage of 18-24 year olds of the total vote did not change, but the raw number did go up considerably. What was not accounted fo in polls was the concurrent increase in Christian fundamentalist voters this time around. Repubicans estimated after the 2000 election that 4 million on the "religious right" did not vote. They were absolutely determined to mine that enormous poll of voters. Think about the size of Bush's victory. This is a president who lost by half a million votes last time, who has turned a $3 Trillion surplus into a $4 trilion deficit, has enmeshed us in a quagmire in Iraq, presided over the 9/11 attacks, has spent 3 years in Afghanistan hunting a terrorist with an army smaller than the NYC police department, plans to gut Social Security, etc..... Didn'y it occur to someone to vote him out of office? But he also made Gay marriages an issue in the last two years. This was the most successful attempt yet to turn the religous right into a formidable voting bloc. I do not agree with my liberal friends that it constitutes an appeal to homophobia. This was a legitimate issue which, while it reflects the strange relationship between religion and policy unique to the US among great democracies, aroused a heretofore sleepy part of the electorate. My fellow Democrats have many lessons to learn from this event.

Posted by: Jordan | Nov 4, 2004 6:14:50 PM

Jordan... I'm just waking up to what an effective strategy Bush used.

He figured (correctly, apparently) that most of the bubba & Bible thumper vote couldn't get their head around the issues that the Democrats were screaming about... so he threw them an issue that was important to them and that they could understand.

And here I was thinking the Jews were the only one-issue voters.

Posted by: David | Nov 4, 2004 9:06:53 PM

I must emphasize two points.
I am not in favor of a ban on gay marriages. I said i understand those who are.
I also want to point out that in Florida, the israel/Security issue pushed jewish support of Bush from 19% to 24%.
Nationwide, African American support of Bush, presumably based on African Americans as part of the Evangelical churches, went from 8% to 11%. (37% increase.)
No Gay Marriage issue, maybe we win Florida AND Ohio.

Posted by: Jordan | Nov 5, 2004 3:27:54 AM

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