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Vanderbilt Poll Snapshot
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
NINTH VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY POLL
In January 2011, the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions launched the Vanderbilt Poll to survey individuals 18 and older living in the state of Tennessee. 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. There are occasional surveys around important elections, such as the February 2012 Republican Presidential Primary Poll, but the focus of the Vanderbilt Poll 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 10,000 Tennesseans and all poll results are available at: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/csdi/vupoll-home.php
Vanderbilt University (VU) offers an ideal setting for polling state opinion. Not only is Vanderbilt located in the state capital, but it is also a private institution that does not rely on funding from the state government. This allows us 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 survey 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.
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.