Why does the Lake robo-poll -- the poll to which the Barrett campaign is clinging and even using as a fundraising tool -- undersample young voters so egregiously? Most automated polls undersample younger Americans because automated polls cannot call respondents on cell phones, according to federal law. The latest data from the National Health Interview Survey, from the first half of last year, show that nearly six-in-ten Americans aged 18-29 lived in households without a landline telephone, almost twice the rate among all American adults. Celinda Lake's office said she was traveling out of the country Wednesday afternoon.
Marquette Law School visting professor Charles Franklin, the poll's director, told Hotline On Call that his poll, which did include respondents contacted via cell phone, is weighted for age, and that their target for registered voters was 16 percent.
Asked whether the fact that the percentage of young voters decreases to 12 percent after applying the likely-voter screen means that their poll is undersampling that group, Franklin said, "I think we're in the ballpark. We know that the youngest voting cohort is the lowest turnout."
The Barrett campaign also claimed that the Marquette Law School poll oversampled "some of the reddest counties in the state." According to Marquette, 13 percent of respondents were from the city of Milwaukee, while another 33 percent lived within the Milwaukee media market, though outside of Milwaukee proper. Seventeen percent were from the Madison media market, 18 percent from the Green Bay/Appleton market in the northern part of the state, and 19 percent were characterized as being from the rest of the state.
Franklin said respondents' location was recorded when they told interviewers the county in which they live. He did say that the 33 percent who lived in the Milwaukee media market but outside the city -- traditionally Republican areas -- was slightly more than the statewide figures for all registered voters. "It's not perfect," said Franklin, "but, goodness, I'm perfectly happy with that match."
"I don't think it's fair to say we're way off on the region," Franklin added.
The geographic breakdown of the Lake automated poll differed slightly: 15 percent Milwaukee, 24 percent "outer Milwaukee," 17 percent Madison, 27 percent "Northeast" Wisconsin and "Northwest" Wisconsin.
A Barrett campaign spokesperson did not immediately return a phone call seeking clarification on their statement.