The Meredith Poll, which is a statewide live-caller and online public opinion poll, marked its fifth anniversary in spring 2020.
Established in the spring of 2015 to survey North Carolinians about issues of public interest, the Meredith Poll is housed in the Department of History, Political Science, and International Studies. Professor of Political Science David McLennan serves as its director and Associate Professor of Political Science Whitney Ross Manzo is assistant director.
The Meredith Poll, which is part of Meredith’s commitment to public service, is the only North Carolina survey research organization that focuses on issues pertaining to women.
Topics covered by The Meredith Poll include current political issues as well as views of women as political leaders, as business leaders and entrepreneurs, and as law enforcement professionals. It has garnered media coverage in regional and national publications, including The Hill, U.S. News, PBS NewsHour, and more.
Students play important roles in The Meredith Poll, from survey development through the polling process.
Savi Swiggard, ’21, joined the polling staff as a freshman and has since been promoted to student supervisor. She says the skills she’s learned will help her in her future career.
“As a caller, my job is to communicate without inserting my opinion, while making sure the respondent has clarity and comfort answering our questions,” Swiggard said. “Learning how to step back from my personal beliefs for the sake of research and truth is a skill that will truly impact my life as I pursue a career in journalism.”
Cold calling North Carolina voters to gauge their opinions also helped Asiyah Amad, ’20, a computer science major.
“I learned perseverance working on The Meredith Poll. When you are on your 27th call of the night, and you aren’t getting answers, you learn to keep calling and hope the 28th call will be different. That is a lesson I have embedded into my personality, to keep calling or keep going,” said Amad.
Over the past five years, The Meredith Poll directors have made changes to make sure its results stay accurate. The Poll methodology shifted from using predominantly phone calls in 2016 to a blend of phone and online polls in September 2017.
“We’ve shifted to this blended approach to get a sample that looks more like the electorate for 2020, which increases accuracy,” explained McLennan.
Younger voters are less likely to answer the phone, and participation and diversity in online polling panels has improved significantly in recent years.
“To get an accurate representation of the electorate, we need to reach people where they are, and online is where people spend their time.” By adding online polling, McLennan says, “We’re now reaching more young rural voters, people of color, and college educated people.”