DPI-613: Polling in the Real World: Using Survey Research to Win Elections and Govern

Semester: Fall

Credit: 1.0

Syllabus: Click here for syllabus

Faculty: Peter Hart


Day Time Location
First Day 9/13
Meet Day F 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM L382


If you want to understand the intersection among politics, policy, and public opinion, this course is designed for you. This course has no theories, only practical case studies of how to understand the issue and how to implement the findings. This course endeavors to explore the myriad uses of public opinion in leadership and decision-making. Special emphasis will be placed on the 2012 campaign, but the course will cover issues such as bias, negative campaigning, and the economy. This semester will cover campaigns from Kennedy’s 1960 race to Obama’s 2012 election. The course will be supplemented by guest lecturers who are at the top of their field. They will explain polling from the practical experience of running a campaign or implementing a policy. This is a challenging course where students will be expected to work with team members to produce a total polling project from focus groups to questionnaire design to interviewing, tabulation, analysis, and presentation. We will examine what public opinion research is, how it is conducted, and how it has been used in presidential elections over the last 50 years. This course is about the ability to understand presidential elections through the lens of polling. We will study how candidates deal with the issue of bias, the role of third parties in presidential elections, and formulate a strategy. This course is practical and not theoretical; it studies how important decisions are made and how key decision makers use data to achieve their goals.