Isabel Holloway ’19 has been taking the pulse of the nation with Emerson College Polling since she was an undergraduate, including conducting polls for the 2018 midterms. Now, as Emerson Polling’s project manager, she and the team have been furiously surveying multiple states, districts, and voters ahead of Election Day 2020.
It all culminates this weekend, with Pre-Game Saturday and Super Poll Sunday, when Emerson Polling releases the results of several polls in states critical to the election.
We asked Holloway how it would all work:
Q: How many polls are you doing this week (Oct. 25-Nov. 1)?
We released our final national poll on October 27, and are finishing the season off with 14 battleground state polls.
Q: How many states/counties/districts (and which)?
We’re doing statewide polls of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Nevada, and Arizona, [as well as] Nebraska’s Second District and Vigo County in Indiana, a bellwether county
Q: Are they all straight up “who are you voting for?” or are you polling issues as well?
We poll the ballot test (which candidate you are voting for) in all states, as well as important U.S. Senate races (AZ, IA, GA, NC, ME, TX, and MI), and in each state, we ask respondents how big of a threat they perceive COVID-19 as, and what the most important issue in determining their vote is.
Q: How many people will you have reached out to when the week is all over?
Over 15,000 respondents to our polls; we reach out to about 100,000-200,000.
Q: How many Emerson Polling members are working on this?
Assistant Professor Spencer Kimball, director of Emerson College Polling; Kelsey Reardon ’22 undergraduate student analyst; and Camille Mumford ’20, graduate student analyst.
Q: What methodology/ies are you using?
Mixed-mode of IVR (robo-calling), SMS-to-web texting, and online paneling via Amazon MTurk
Q: How long does it take to tabulate results?
Once we collect all the data (one or two days for each poll), we run and analyze and release the data by the next day.
Q: When and how will these polls be released?
All polls are released on our social media @EmersonPolling on Twitter, and at emersonpolling.com. We’re releasing the rest of the polls in two batches, one on Saturday evening (pre-game) and the bulk on Sunday (Super Poll Sunday).
Q: You’ve been doing this a number of years, including for the 2018 midterms. Has this year posed any particular challenges, either due to the pandemic or other factors?
The pandemic and the surge of early voting has impacted our turnout models.
Q: What’s the most exciting thing about polling?
Comparing results in the same states/nationally over time, and seeing how demographics differ on questions.
Q: What’s the most surprising result you’ve seen so far this election season?
Lower [numbers] of undecided voters than in 2016.
Q: Care to make any predictions?
Ask me Sunday!
Want to learn more about Emerson Polling and how they work? Undergraduate analyst Kelsey Reardon will do an Instagram takeover of Emerson College’s Instagram account on Super Poll Sunday.