As we head into the 2016 presidential election and the 2015 gubernatorial runoff election in Louisiana, political polling is in a state of crisis. Costs are rising, response rates are dropping, landlines are disappearing, and sampling on the Internet poses more questions than answers. These concerns make it more difficult to determine who is winning or losing, what voter turnout will look like, and what the public thinks about critical issues.
To address these polling issues, the Manship School along with The Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs will host a panel discussion on political polling entitled, “What’s the Matter with Polling?”, on November 19 at 12 p.m. in the Holliday Forum. The panel will be moderated by Joshua Darr, assistant professor of political communication at the Manship School of Mass Communication.
The panel will feature experts in charge of designing, constructing and conducting polls including: Marjorie Connelly, a senior fellow at the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research; Joshua Dyck, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell; and Michael Henderson, an assistant professor of research in the Manship School and the research director at the Public Policy Research Lab (PPRL) at LSU.
“This is a critical moment for polling: response rates are dropping and it’s tougher than ever to find a representative sample, which means it’s more difficult to accurately determine public opinion,” said Josh Darr. “These panelists should be able to illuminate these problems and present some solutions, based in their research and experience running polling centers,” he said.
“I hope people come away understanding the difficulties inherent in accurate public opinion polling, but hopeful that the problems pollsters face today are fixable” said Darr. “Public opinion polls are an important way to send signals to elected officials, and it’s crucial that the people who conduct those polls can adapt to changing technologies and circumstances. This panel brings together several of those pollsters at a particularly interesting time for Louisiana: two days before the gubernatorial runoff election,” he said.
This panel discussion is a part of a series of events the Manship School and The Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs will host leading up to the 2016 presidential election, emphasizing the Manship School’s commitment and focus on media and public affairs.
The panelist are as follows:
Marjorie Connelly is a senior fellow at the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Until earlier this year, she was the editor in charge of survey research at the New York Times, where she was the leading in-house authority on public opinion data. Connelly has been active in the research community, including as a member of the executive council of the American Association for Public Opinion Research and as a past president of the group’s New York chapter. She was also a contributing writer for the Encyclopedia of Survey Research Methods.
Joshua Dyck is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. He is the co-director of the Center for Public Opinion at UMass-Lowell, which launched in 2011 and supports research in several disciplines including Political Science, Criminology and Justice Studies, Psychology, and Community Health and Sustainability. Dr. Dyck’s research has been highlighted in popular media outlets including Forbes, Time, Reuters, and The Globe and Mail.
Michael Henderson is an Assistant Professor of Research in the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University and the Research Director at the Public Policy Research Lab (PPRL) at LSU. Dr. Henderson leads the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs’ annual Louisiana Survey, a longitudinal study of citizen views regarding state services and contemporary issues. His work has been covered by the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic Monthly.