Nate Silver: Pollsters Called Election Wrong Because They Ignored Cellphones

New York Times statistician Nate Silver said traditional polls skewed Republican because they missed young, urban voters that only use cellphones

New York Times polling guru Nate Silver knows why many pollsters failed to see the landslide victory that awaited President Obama in the presidential election: They missed cellphones.

ScreenshotThe FiveThirtyEight blogger appeared Tuesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" to say that polls didn't lean Republican because they were partisan but because by robocalling landlines only, they missed a large swath of the young, urban demographic that helped reelect the president.

"High-quality polling really differentiates itself now, because if you take an automated poll, you miss people that have cellphones, which is about a third of the population now," he told host Joe Scarborough. "They're mostly younger, urban demographics, mostly Democrats, so you will undersample Democrats, to use that buzzword, if you don't call people who have cellphones."

A week before the election, Silver bet Scarborough — who believed the election was a toss-up — $2,000 that Obama would win in a landslide. Scarborough did not make a wager in the Twitter back-and-forth.

“We didn't bet, because we love humanity too much to bet, but I think we gave money and we made a contribution, in Nate’s name, to AmeriCares,” Scarborough said on the program.