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Polling Society students tackle Clinton, Tsarnaev, NFL


Emerson College Polling Society students and volunteers working on a recent poll. From left: Matthew Mariano '15, Felix Chen '14, Aishwarya Ranani '15, and Chris Kane '17. (Courtesy Photo)

The Emerson College Polling Society produced results of a new poll on March 23 that revealed several key findings in politics, sports, the death penalty, and the 2024 Boston summer Olympics bid.

Hannah Ritter ’16, a Communication Studies major and co-president of the polling society, said the group chose to tackle several topics because they are all continuously discussed in ongoing news cycles.

The group’s latest poll is receiving local and national media attention.

“The most newsworthy poll showed that the Massachusetts residents we surveyed support the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,” Ritter said.

In that scientific survey of 798 adults from Massachusetts, 52 percent said they support the death penalty for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect currently on trial in federal court, and only 20 percent oppose it. These results differ from a WBUR/MassInc Polling Group poll released earlier week, which surveyed 504 Massachusetts residents and found a majority opposed the death penalty for Tsarnaev.

“It’s one thing to say you don’t support it, but it’s another to say you oppose it,” said Ritter, referring to the Emerson polling results.

When it comes to whether Tsarnaev should get the death penalty in his federal trial, 52 percent of respondents are in favor, 23 percent are opposed, and 25 percent are undecided. (Massachusetts state courts do not have a death penalty.)

Other key findings from the Emerson College Polling Society (ECPS) poll are:

·      Support for Boston’s bid to host the 2024 summer Olympics has dwindled since an ECPS poll in January. Only 31 percent now support the games being held in Boston versus 42 percent in January. Fifty-one percent of respondents are opposed.

·      Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would beat U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, 43 percent to 16 percent, if a hypothetical Democratic primary election for president were held today.

·      Eighty-two percent of respondents approve of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s handling of this winter’s back-to-back major snowstorms, and only 18 percent disapprove. This high level of support crossed party lines, with 77 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of Independents, and 94 percent of Republicans approving.

·      New England Patriots football fans renewed their faith in coach Bill Belichick. When asked if the Pats should have given cornerback Darrelle Revis $20 million to stay in Boston, 44 percent said no, 17 percent said yes, and 39 percent were undecided.

Read the full results of the poll.

Ritter said she became co-president of ECPS this year, along with classmate Chris Kane ’17, after handling social media for the group last year.


Emerson College Polling Society students and volunteers: Ash Rao '14, Hannah Ritter '16, Chris Kane '17, Susannah Sudborough '16, and Tina Safford '18. (Courtesy Photo)

“One of the most rewarding parts of this is finding a community within my major, and working with people similarly minded as me academically,” Ritter said.

Ritter said the student group, led by faculty advisor Spencer Kimball, is highly collaborative.

“We put everything together as a group,” she said. “We formulate the questions by beginning with a topic. We research it and put all of the questions together in a Google Doc. Everyone has a chance to put their two cents in.”

“My major is Political Communication (in the Communication Studies Department), so I study politics a lot,” Ritter said. “I’m gaining skills here I wouldn’t have been able to gain otherwise.”

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