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Vanderbilt Poll Snapshot

The Vanderbilt Poll is a charter member of the AAPOR Transparency Project.


May 2015 VU Poll News Conference    

May 2015 VU Poll Executive Summary

May 2015 VU Poll Slides

May 2015 VU Poll Questionnaire

May 2015 VU Poll Methodological Report

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions


Joshua D. Clinton

John Geer

News Archives

Religious themes color politics in "born again' Tennessee

Marriage Equality in Tennessee? Vanderbilt Poll Shows Significant Shift

VU Poll: Support Growing For Medicaid Expansion In Tennessee

Vanderbilt University Poll: Tennesseans favor Medicaid expansion

Vanderbilt poll finds growing support for same-sex marriage

VU poll: Support for Medicaid expansion increases, Haslam's approval stays steady

Geer and Clinton present VU Poll results to TPA

Tennesseans show 'bittersweet' reactions to health law in Vanderbilt Poll

TN legislature should focus on economy: Vanderbilt Poll

"Bias against Mormonism may not keep Romney out of White House"

"Vanderbilt Poll: Santorum leading Republican candidate in Tennessee"

"Vanderbilt Poll: Tennesseans stout in support for Herman Cain"

"Vanderbilt Poll: Economy is troubled and taxing rich is the solution"

"Controversial bills might have cost TN General Assembly Popularity Points"


Phone: 615.875.6954
Fax: 615.343.6003

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Unpacking Tennesseans' Attitudes Toward Insure Tennessee


Despite widespread opposition to the Affordable Care Act itself, registered voters in Tennessee have consistently supported the expansion of Medicaid ever since the Vanderbilt Poll first asked about the issue in December 2012. Regardless of how we have asked the question, more voters support the expansion of Medicaid -and Governor Haslam's closely linked program Insure Tennessee- than oppose the initiative. In fact, only high income Republicans and members of the Tea-Party oppose the policy. White paper


May 2015

In January 2011, the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions (CSDI) launched the Vanderbilt Poll to survey adult residents of Tennessee aged 18 and older. The goal was—and is—to provide a non-partisan and scientifically based reading of public opinion within the state. The Vanderbilt Poll is bi-annual, with surveys conducted prior to the start of the state legislative session and at its conclusion. While the Poll occasionally conducts surveys around important elections (such as the February 2012 Republican presidential primary poll), its main focus is to uncover what Tennesseans think about important state and national issues and to make our findings available to citizens, policy-makers, and scholars.  Since 2011, the Vanderbilt Poll has surveyed over 13,000 Tennesseans and all poll results are available at

Vanderbilt University (VU) offers an ideal setting for polling state opinion. Not only is Vanderbilt located in Tennessee’s state capital of Nashville, but it is also a private institution that does not rely on funding from the state government. This allows for the flexibility to ask questions on controversial issues that may be facing the state. VU also has committed sufficient resources for us to employ state-of-the-art techniques in gathering the best possible data.  Good polling is costly and cutting corners can lead to questionable data.  Finally, CSDI and VU have extensive polling expertise among its faculty, students, and staff. 

Joshua Clinton, Professor of Political Science, and John Geer, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science, have served as co-directors of the Vanderbilt Poll since its inception. Clinton received his Ph.D. from Stanford University, where he also earned an M.S. in Statistics and Economics.  Geer received his Ph.D. from Princeton University, where he also earned an M.A. in Politics. Both have substantial experience in survey research, developing representative samples, drafting survey questions, and analyzing data.

We take our objective of providing an unbiased reading of public opinion very seriously.  As a result, we conduct telephone interviews through both landlines and cell phones. We also weight all statistical results to achieve an accurate demographic representation. Beginning in May 2015, we began using a registered voter list to identify the sample of respondents. This allows us to gain better understanding about the opinions that state leaders hear and allows us to produce more reliable statistical estimates by eliminating the need to trim samples to exclude non-voters.

To help identify the most important issues facing the state and to ensure that our questions avoid ideological and partisan bias, a bi-partisan Board of Advisors provides guidance on each poll.  Our Board evaluates the poll prior to it going in the field. We start by soliciting suggestions from the Board about what topics to include on the poll and make every effort to utilize those suggestions. Once we write questions for the poll, we get the Board’s reaction to our proposed questions and we then make further revisions based on those reactions. 

Current VU Poll board members are: 

Charles W. Bone, attorney and chairman of Bone McAllester Norton PLLC

Tom Ingram, political strategist with The Ingram Group

Roy M. Neel, senior adviser to former Vice President Al Gore

Bill Phillips, government relations consultant and former Nashville deputy mayor

Bill Purcell, former Nashville mayor and counsel at Jones Hawkins & Farmer PLC

Lisa Quigley, Chief of Staff for Rep. Jim Cooper

Anne Russell, special counsel at Adams and Reese LLP

Chip Saltsman, former chief of staff for Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and political strategist

Jamie Woodson, President and CEO of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE)

In April 2015, the Vanderbilt Poll became a charter member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research’s Transparency Initiative, which is dedicated to encouraging broader and more effective disclosure of research methods among survey organizations. Detailed information about the methodology of our polls can be found on our website at


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Upcoming Events

10/2/15-CSDI lunch seminar - Kenneth Scheve - Stanford University

10/9/15-CSDI lunch Seminar - Larry Bartels - Vanderbilt University

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Latest Research



6/30/15 CSDI Working Paper 2015-2 titled "Controlling Agency Choke Points: Presidents and Regulatory Personnel Turnover" has been released. The paper is authored by Kathleen M. Doherty, David E. Lewis and Scott Limbocker.

4/1/15 CSDI Working Paper 2015-1 titled"Incorporating Legislative Effectiveness into Nonmarket Strategy: The Case of Financial Services Reform and the Great Recession"has been released. The paper is authored by Craig Volden and CSDI Affiliate Alan E. Wiseman.

12/19/14 CSDI Working Paper 2014-7 titled ''Spatial Models of Legislative Effectiveness''has been released. The paper is authored by Matthew P. HittCraig Volden, and CSDI Affiliate Alan E. Wiseman.

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Media Spotlight - 8/19/15 - CSDI Co-Director Josh Clinton, graduate affiliate Carrie Roush, and Dr. John Lapinski, Director of the Elections Unit at NBC news take a closer look at Trump supporters.

Washington Post - 8/3/15 - CSDI Co-Director David Lewis and graduate affiliate Mark Richardson's Survey on the Future of Government Service is examined - 7/22/15 - CSDI Co-director John Geer is quoted in an article about Donald Trump's participation in the upcoming republican presidential debate in Cleveland.

The Fiscal Times - 7/20/15 - CSDI Co-Director David Lewis is quoted in an article about Jeb Bush's plan to reduce the federal workforce.

Newsweek -7/17/15 - CSDI Co-Director David Lewis discusses "How to Keep Good People Working in Government."

Tennessean - 7/10/15 - CSDI Co-Directors Joshua Clinton and John Geer Op-Ed, "Beware of Internal Polls to Name Nashville's Next Mayor


 More » 

Contact the CSDI

The Center for the Study of
Democratic Institutions
Vanderbilt University
PMB 505
230 Appleton Place
Nashville TN 37203

CSDI Poster




Phone: 615.875.6954
Fax: 615.343.6003