On Sunday, April 17, with the focus on who would win Monday’s Boston Marathon, Robynn Singer-Baefsky, a sophomore Political Communication student at Emerson College, was crunching the numbers on who would be victorious in another high-profile competition—Tuesday’s New York presidential primary.
Singer-Baefsky is enrolled in Emerson’s immersive Presidential Politics program and its signature course in public opinion polling. As her final exam project for her class, Singer-Baefsky chose to conduct and analyze a poll on the New York contest. She presented her findings in class on Tuesday, April 19 — before the polls closed — and accurately predicted the winning spreads for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, at 15 and 34 points, respectively.
She was recently named incoming president of the Emerson College Polling Society (ECPS) for the upcoming fall semester. ECPS is a student-run group, with faculty advisors, that conducts public opinion surveys.
Emerson’s approach to politics builds on a foundation of classroom learning, combined with many opportunities to actively engage in the political process. This semester, Emerson’s Communication Studies Department has hosted campus visits by political journalists and veteran campaign operatives. Roughly 70 students took part in school-sponsored trips to three key primary states — Iowa, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin — where they attended candidate rallies, helped out with local campaign efforts, and observed the freewheeling Iowa caucuses in person.
Through their involvement in the ECPS, students have analyzed and publicized roughly 40 polls during the 2016 early primaries. Under the leadership of seniors Hannah Ritter and Christine Kane, the group has enjoyed its busiest and most successful semester to date, earning plaudits for the accuracy of its polls by seasoned politicos including Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News .
“As a transfer student from a community college, I really wanted to jump into any extracurricular activities associated with my major at Emerson,” Singer-Baefsky said. “I would never have imagined that I would be involved in such a rewarding program.” She added that she is learning real skills that will pay off in the form of job opportunities and practical political expertise necessary to craft successful campaigns.
A native Californian, she looks forward to again testing her expertise next month, when ECPS polls the delegate-rich California primary, which will be held on June 7.