Purdue students to present national poll results

November 18, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Students from the Purdue Institute for Civic Communication Polling Unit on Dec. 2 will present findings on the nation's civic confidence.

The presentation is part of a dinner at 5:30 p.m. in the Purdue Memorial Union North Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited so an RSVP must be submitted online no later than 5 p.m. on Nov. 24.

The PICC National Poll is a class now in its second year.  It is offered in the Brian Lamb School of Communication and is instructed by Ambassador Carolyn Curiel, with Brian Lamb, C-SPAN founder and Executive Chairman, who joins students in the classroom via video link from Washington D.C. Katie Cahill, interim academic coordinator for PICC and a doctoral candidate in political science, is the teaching assistant.

The international polling firm Penn Schoen Berland of Washington, D.C., a PICC partner, fields the students' questions online to respondents who comprise a representative cross section of the nation. There were about 2,600 respondents for the polls conducted in October and November. Each poll has a margin of error of less than 3 percent.

"It has been very impressive to watch an enthusiastic group of Purdue students tackle the complicated process of polling the American people on the subject of civic confidence," Lamb said. "Polling is a very important part of the political world and these Purdue students have had a comprehensive real world experience. And soon the public can share in analyzing the results."

Curiel, a clinical professor in the Lamb School, said, "Students this year are exploring what is at the heart of voter concerns in this important election season. They're asking questions like no one else in polling, and that's the point – their poll, their perspective. It's a great learning experience for all of us."

This year's polls have focused on civic confidence, or taking a gauge of the public's perception of how democracy and institutions of civic life are working or not working. One finding of interest regards the influence of money.  Nearly one-third of Americans think money will be the most influential factor in determining the next president, but almost half, 46 percent, seem unconcerned about the source of campaign financing, saying that it will not affect how they vote.

Margaret Metobo, one of the polling students, was interested in what most moves voters.

"We found that 52 percent are most likely to vote for a candidate if they agree with the overall message and 17 percent if they find the candidate relatable," she said. "Candidate credentials were important for only 14 percent of voters. Taken together, these findings point to the overwhelming importance of charisma over candidates' experience and knowledge."

Students in last spring's semester class presented their findings at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., in May. This year's spring class also will have the opportunity to return to Washington, D.C., Curiel said.

Every student admitted into the polling class is certified to conduct human research through the Institutional Review Board.

Topics and questions for the polls are decided in a collaborative learning environment. Students must keep current on issues and current events, and be knowledgeable about history and civics. The PICC is a nonpartisan initiative for applied and experiential undergraduate learning in the fields of issues policy, citizenship and communication at Purdue, made possible by the Daniels Fund of Denver and a partnership with C-SPAN, the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network. PICC is university wide and students in any major who have at least a 2.3 overall GPA are eligible to participate in PICC, its classes and activities.

The students in the Fall 2015 Polling Unit are: Benjamin Baker, a junior in political science; Rachel Bibler, a senior in mass communication; Liz Bitzer, a senior in public relations; Max Fischer a senior in management, finance, accounting; Jessica Guo, a senior in public relations; Margaret Metobo, a junior in sociology; and Annie Stoker, a senior in public relations and strategic communication. 

Purdue News Service contact: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu 

Sources: Carolyn Curiel, PICC Executive Director, PICC@purdue.edu

Katie Cahill, PICC Interim Academic Coordinator, kacahill@purdue.edu 

Ben Baker, PICC student assistant, baker174@purdue.edu

Liz Bitzer, PICC student assistant, bitzer@purdue.edu 

Note to Journalists: The students' presentation of the PICC National Poll will begin at 6:30 p.m. 

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