In June, the School of Communication at American University hosted a workshop for journalists on effective coverage of election polling. You can read about the workshop at a web story penned by AU staffer Mike Unger. Excerpts below:
“It’s been said that polling is only 3 to 5 percent of a campaign budget but drives 90 percent of what goes on in a campaign,” said SOC professor Leonard Steinhorn, director of the public communication division. “There’s plenty of evidence that polling influences the news narrative, and affects some voters.”
Funded by a grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the workshop brought together some of the country’s preeminent pollsters, journalists, and faculty from SOC and AU’s School of Public Affairs, which offer a joint master’s degree in political communication.
More than 20 major news organizations, including the New York Times, ABC and NBC News, Politico and Bloomberg participated, as did experts from Gallup and the Pew Hispanic Center.
“There are a number of issues which pollsters and reporters are grappling with right now including the rise of cell phones, online polling and, in particular, automated polls,” said Dotty Lynch, SOC executive in residence and director of the MA in political communication. “In addition, the explosion of social media has given rise to a proliferation of opinions which may or may not be representative of the public. Polls can also be a very good tool for reporters as a means of bringing the public into the equation. As we head into another presidential campaign, accurate data, not just about the horse race but about public policy, issues, and the state of the country will illuminate the national conversation.”