Center for Survey Research garners national attention this election season

East Carolina University started a polling center three years ago with the goal of conducting accurate election polling that could garner national attention. With the 2020 election season underway, those goals are being met.

For colleges that conduct election polling, the presidential race is a publicity bonanza. Polling powerhouses like Quinnipiac University, Monmouth University and Marist College regularly find themselves in the national spotlight come campaign season.

Now, they’re not the only ones.

The ECU Poll published on Sept. 1 and conducted over the weekend following the Republican Party’s National Convention (Aug. 29-30), finds President Donald Trump with a small lead over former Vice President Joe Biden, 49% to 47%. (Courtesy of the Center for Survey Research)

A recent Bloomberg article on Trump/Biden campaign updates gathered poll results from Quinnipiac, Monmouth — and ECU.

ECU’s most recent September poll showing Trump with a slight lead in North Carolina was picked up by Bloomberg, The Boston Globe, USA Today, MSNBC, The Hill and Forbes, among others.

“We’re part of a national conversation right now. People are paying attention to the polls we’re doing in North Carolina,” said Dr. Peter Francia, director of ECU’s Center for Survey Research.

“We’ve accomplished everything we set out to do three years ago, and we’re very proud of that.”

North Carolina is considered a battleground state for the general election. Its U.S Senate race is also one of the tightest in the country and a critical one for Democrats and Republicans.

ECU’s polling work began with a $100,000 donation from alumni Wayne and Sherry Holloman. Its first initiative was the Life, Liberty, and Happiness Project, a nationwide survey of more than 1,100 adults on indicators of life, liberty and happiness. Other polls have included people’s opinions on sports gambling and e-cigarettes. Since February, however, the focus has shifted to election polling, Francia said.

“We’re trying to get the most unbiased sample possible so we can get an accurate understanding of the state of the electorate at the time we’re polling,” added ECU Senior Polling Scientist Jay Morris. “Our goal is to get more accurate polling of North Carolina than has been out there previously. We’re very happy our work is being cited alongside longstanding survey research organizations.”

The next step is to expand polling into other states beyond the Carolinas, Morris said. That will take more investment and more fundraising if ECU wants to keep getting recognized.

“We’re very proud of the exposure,” Morris said. “We’d like more.”

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