Nano(s)technology: It's the cell phones, stupid!

Hot Room Colleague and Ottawa Citizen election notebooker Glen McGregor talked to Nik Nanos about his stubbornly trend-bucking numbers in today’s edition of Polls Notes, thereby providing at least a mornings’ worth of comment-fodder. A teaser:

Mr. Nanos says the key difference is methodology. Unlike other polling firms, his asks open-ended questions on voter intention. Instead of offering a list of choices — “Would you vote a) Conservative, b) Liberal …” — Nanos phone operators ask an open-ended question that requires respondents to come up with their own answers instead of multiple choice.

“If they don’t get the list, you get the cleanest read because they have to articulate their support,” Mr. Nanos said. The open-ended question eliminates the importance of the order in which the parties are listed, although most companies vary the the order to mitigate this factor.

Also, the open-ended method tends to put the Greens lower than other parties because, Mr. Nanos believes, respondents are not reminded of the party when they answer. Some will choose the Greens as a none-of-the-above if they hear the party name on a list before answering.

Another difference: Nanos pays more to get cellphone exchanges included in its calling list. Cell users tend to be young and more transient than those with land-lines, Mr. Nanos says.

“Those people are not as likely to have conservative attitudes.”

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