What inspires you?
Andrew Kohut is the president of the Pew Research Center. He also acts as director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press (formerly the Times Mirror Center for the People & the Press) and the Pew Global Attitudes Project. He was President of The Gallup Organization from 1979 to 1989. In 1989, he founded Princeton Survey Research Associates, an attitude and opinion research firm specializing in media, politics, and public policy studies. He served as founding director of surveys for the Times Mirror Center 1990-1992, and was named its Director in 1993. He is a past president of American Association of Public Opinion Research and the National Council on Public Polls. In 2005, he received the American Association of Public Opinion Research's highest honor, the Award for Exceptionally Distinguished Achievement. He is a frequent press commentator on the meaning and interpretation of opinion poll results and the co-author of four books, including, mostly recently, America Against the World (Times Books). He received an A.B. degree from Seton Hall University in 1964 and studied graduate sociology at Rutgers, the State University, from 1964 to 1966.
Question: What inspires you?
Andrew Kohut: What inspires me is to try to answer the question . . . the most important questions about public opinion. Next week the question will be, “What is the public’s reaction to the Petraeus report?” Doing a good job of . . . of . . . of covering the way the public has reacted to what President Bush and General Petraeus have said about the surge and the course of our . . . our future troops . . . troops in Iraq is what . . . what inspires me.
Question: What is the balance you've struck between creativity and scientific rigor?
Andrew Kohut: Well you know this is both an art and a science. I mean the science . . . The scientific aspects of this develop . . . determine the sampling and the analytical . . . some of the analytical statistically . . . statistical analytical tools we use. But in terms of writing the questions and drawing conclusions from the data, that has to do with one’s . . . how good one is as an analyst. We have a lot of material, just as in any scientific adventure. And we have a lot of data. And a good deal of the skill is what we can make out of it; and how coherent, and defensible, and authent . . . replicable a case can we make for conclusions that we come to about public opinion.
Recorded on: 9/14/07
Polling, Kohut says, is both an art and a science.
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