By Savannah Simons, Staff Writer
The High Point University Poll, now nearly three years old, predicted a close battle between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney throughout the election season this semester. The results of the latest poll, which showed Obama ahead nationally with Romney taking the lead in North Carolina, became reality on Nov. 6 when election results were revealed.
The poll, which is housed in the Survey Research Center in the Nido Qubein School of Communication, conducted its first survey in the spring of 2010. Their objective is to conduct three polls per semester, surveying North Carolinians on topics including presidential, congressional, senator and governor approval as well as the economy, education, healthcare and foreign policy. Polls are conducted via cellular devices and landlines selected at random by a Random Digit Dial, making calls to hundreds of citizens within North Carolina state lines.
Due to the election cycle, the poll scheduled extra surveys this semester. Five polls were conducted prior to Election Day, with the fifth and most recent poll also being the first HPU National Poll that interviewed registered voters across the country as opposed to only North Carolinians. The national poll was conducted Oct. 22-30 and found that nationally, 46 percent of registered voters say they would vote or had voted early for Obama, while 43 percent said they would vote or had voted early for Romney. Of registered voters in North Carolina, 46 percent said they would or had voted early for Romney while 45 percent said they would vote or had voted early for Obama.
Those results proved to paint an accurate picture when Romney won North Carolina and when Obama won the national election on Nov. 6.
Dr. Martin Kifer, assistant professor of political science at HPU, serves as director of the HPU poll and coordinates the polling from start to finish along with Dr. Sadie Leder, assistant professor of psychology, who serves as associate director of the HPU Poll. Along with Kifer and Leder, Roger Clodfelter, vice president for communications, works with the Survey Research Center to promote polling research and get polls local and national coverage.
Since North Carolina was a key swing state during the election, it held a lot of national interest, which made keeping in constant contact with the media crucial during the polling season. Both presidential candidates and their respective parties remained very competitive within the state of North Carolina. The Republican Party held many campaigns within North Carolina, showing their devotion to the state while the Democratic Party agreed to hold their national convention in Charlotte, also showing their investment to the state.
“We contact a lot of media,” said Clodfelter. “We are building national contacts, and the poll has gained an enormous amount of attention for HPU.”
The HPU Poll received coverage from nationally recognized websites and television stations including The Washington Post, Huffington Post’s Pollster.com, NBC News, Fox News, The New York Times and the Raleigh News & Observer.
Before final results are revealed to the public, Kifer and Leder compile a collection of questions that must be approved by an Advisory Committee of advisors and faculty members representing all academic schools on HPU’s campus. HPU’s Institutional Review Board then reviews the questions and once approved, student workers begin polling through the Survey Research Center, where the poll is conducted.
While the four state polls conducted prior to the recent national poll showed varying results, sometimes with Obama in the lead in N.C., sometimes with Romney in the lead, and sometimes a tie, the HPU Poll remained accurate in its most recent findings, giving Romney the win in the state of North Carolina and Obama the Presidential bid for another four-year term.
Kifer says the polling work is not finished yet, as one last national poll will be conducted post-election in the coming weeks. The results will include what issues people are most concerned with for the next four years, how they felt about the election process and more. Look for those results and past results at src.highpoint.edu.