About Us

About Emerson Polling

Emerson College Polling was established over 20 years ago originally founded as a classroom project dedicated to formulating, administering, and analyzing public opinion polls. 

In 2012, under the leadership of Assistant Professor Spencer Kimball, Emerson College Polling initiated the use of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) data collection along with innovative weighting techniques. This methodological experiment contributed to increased accuracy and recognition throughout the 2016 election cycle.

True to Emerson College’s educational mission, our team is constantly studying and learning from our work. This is why, in 2017, we modified our methodology by using a combination of landline (IVR) respondents and the addition of online panels.

As a result,  Emerson College Polling’s statistical and predictive accuracy improved further still, earning the ranking of  #2 Pollster to Trust in the 2018 Midterms by Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight. Furthermore, in 2019 FiveThirtyEight gave  Emerson Polling the ninth highest grade with an  A- based on an analysis of all polls from 2013-2019.  In addition, FiveThirtyEight gave Emerson Polling the highest ranking among pollsters who use IVR/Online mode of data collection.

Emerson Polling has partnered with news organizations such as The Dallas Morning News , WGBH and 7NEWS Boston/WHDH to analyze public opinion of political issues. In addition to our political work, we conduct surveys for non-profit organizations including The Marshall Scholars and Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA).

Not only are we following the science of polling– we are studying and advancing it to meet the standards of tomorrow.

Academic Research and Publication

Emerson College Polling is a Charter Member of the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Transparency Initiative.

Emerson College Polling conducts and publishes research relating to voting trends, polling methodology, and public policy. Research is consistently presented at conferences around the world and most recently in 2019 at:

The International Academy of Business Disciplines (IABD) in Florida on the topic of “Survey Data Collection: Online Panel Efficacy”.  The research compared online panels provided by Survey Monkey, Opinion Access and Amazon MTurk to better understand the demographic panel composition of the leading providers.

The American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) in Canada, Emerson College Polling presented an analysis of modes of data collection titled “Comparing Online Panels and IVR Samples.” This study analyzed trends of online, mixed mode, live operator, and IVR polls from 2012, 2016 and 2018. 

In November at The Blanquerna University Global Summit in Barcelona, Emerson College Polling presented on the best practices of “Allocating Undecided Voters in Pre-Election Polling”.

Also in November Polling Director Spencer Kimball was joined by MSNBC Analyst and Political Strategist Susan DelPercio, top aide to Joe Biden Larry Rasky, Journalist in Residence at Emerson College Cheryl Jackson and Dr. Kathy Kendall of University of Maryland for a 2020 Presidential Election roundtable discussion titled One Year Out: 2020. 

Who We Are:

Spencer Kimball, Director of Emerson College Polling

Professor Kimball teaches Political and Sports Communication courses in both the undergraduate and graduate programs at Emerson College.  Kimball’s primary research focus is in Survey Methodology and the testing of data collection methods. His research has been published in top tier journals and he has presented his work at conferences and workshops around the globe. He offers commentary for media outlets on his methodology and latest election polls, for MSNBC, Fox News, Harpers Magazine, Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the National Journal, and National Public Radio (NPR).

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