Nate Cohn is the polling guy at the NYTimes (side question: are all the polling gurus required to be named “Nate”?) is asked about the legitimacy of the polling:
[Q] Given that pollsters are relying on calling people on the phone (per your methodology description at the bottom of the poll), how do you know where they are, and how do you account for the fact that so few people answer their phones at all anymore? I for one have moved twice since I got my current phone number, most recently to a different state, so my phone number has nothing to do with my actual location. Meanwhile, most of my calls are spam, so I almost never answer my phone unless I recognize the phone number — and I am someone who is old enough to have grown up with what is now called a landline. My teenage kids almost never answer their phones at all. The only people I know who still ever use a landline at all are my parents. — Doug Berman, West Jordan, Utah
And Nate takes the question apart and answers each one, but one question/answer pair really stands out to me:
How do you account for the fact that few people answer? Before I respond, I want to dwell on just how few people are answering. In the poll we have in the field right now, only 0.4 percent of dials have yielded a completed interview. If you were employed as one of our interviewers at a call center, you would have to dial numbers for two hours to get a single completed interview.
No, it wasn’t nearly this bad six, four or even two years ago. You can see for yourself that around 1.6 percent of dials yielded a completed interview in our 2018 polling.
The Times has more resources than most organizations, but this is getting pretty close to “death of telephone polling” numbers. You start wondering how much more expensive it would be to try even ridiculous options like old-fashioned door-to-door, face-to-face, in-person interviews.
So even the polling gurus are pretty much saying that telephone polls are, um, dying, if not already dead.