Great Lakes Poll to determine Voter Efficacy

A poll concerning voter trends across four states conducted by the Community Research Institute (CRI) was released to the public Jan. 22. The second poll will be entering the field on April 8.

Dr. Lauren Copeland, associate director of the CRI, along with a group of BW faculty and students, partnered with Oakland University in Michigan and Ohio Northern University. A poll was then sent to people in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin regarding the thoughts of registered voters in these states.

The team’s goal is not to predict the voting trends in the upcoming presidential election, Copeland said, but rather to understand the attitudes of registered voters in the respective four states.

“We’re just trying to get a sense of what voters in these swing states are thinking,” she said.

The team began working on the poll last semester and sent it out into the field at the beginning of January. The first poll focused on issues of immigration, nativism, isolationism and impeachment, Copeland said, while the poll going into the field April 8 focuses on the environment, racism and sexism.

After the poll was released on Jan. 22, several national news outlets featured Baldwin Wallace University, including Morning Joe on MSNBC, Nate Silver’s 538, CNN and USAToday.

Although it is not emphasized in the news coverage, Copeland discussed the importance of the student experience.

“This is an unprecedented opportunity for BW students to really see the nuts and bolts of public opinion research,” she said.

Students helped comprise the questions asked in the January poll, Copeland said, which allowed them to fine-tune the skills that are in high demand today.

Dr. Aaron Montgomery, associate professor of mathematics, worked on the code that translated responses from the poll, agreed that student experience was highly important in the project.

“If what we’re doing doesn’t benefit the students it’s kind of soulless,” he said.

Montgomery enlisted the help of one math student to help improve the code.

Copeland also approached students she felt would enjoy working on the poll, while some students approached her, she said.

Freshman Kyle Bliss, national security and international studies double major, had class with Copeland and showed interest when she heard about this project, Bliss said.

“This [project] specifically allows students to be involved in the whole process,” she said.

The CRI has conducted polls in the past, but only across Ohio. Therefore, other schools were brought in to help the process of completing the poll, Copeland said.

The experts from the partnered schools dealt with the social media coverage and how to handle the electoral college.