About Emerson Polling

Emerson Polling received recognition for accurately assessing voting intentions throughout the 2016 Presidential Election – including top rankings by Bloomberg News and Nate Silver’s’ FiveThirtyEight –  using a landline-only sample design. In an ongoing effort to improve accuracy in 2017, Emerson Polling experimented with the use of online panels. Our analysis found that a combination of landline and online participants created a representative artificial sample.

The Emerson Poll methodology pairs an automated system that collects data over landline phones with an online panel of participants. A random sample of registered voters or all citizens depending on the needs of the survey are purchased from Aristotle Inc., a leading supplier of phone lists to the survey research industry, and Amazon Turk, an online panel of individuals. Through the use of a screening question, we usually seek out “likely voters”. The results presented in our reports include univariate and bivariate analysis of the data. Frequency distributions for each item included on the questionnaire are shown in the tables.  In all cases, cross-tabulation results are also shown. This type of bivariate analysis examines differences between sub-groups of the overall population.

The modes of data analyses are non-probability and deductive (from “general” to “specific”) in nature, so instead of using classical statistics to quantify the ‘uncertainty’ or range of scores a poll represents, we use Bayesian Statistical methods, that produce the mathematical likelihood of an event of interest, and that are inductive in nature (from “specific” to “general”), for data analyses in best estimating the true population mean proportion. Due to their inductive nature and probability oriented approach, Bayesian methods are often called “Evidence-Based” Statistics (Satake, 2014, 2016, and 2017).

Since implementing this new innovative methodology in early 2018, the Emerson Poll was the first to put Connor Lamb (D) ahead of his rival, and the closest poll to predict the actual margin of his victory in the PA-18 Special Election for Congress. Emerson’s poll in the AZ-8 Special Election for Congress had Debbie Lesko (R) within a point of her final margin of victory. In both the CA Governor and US Senate primaries, and the Ohio-12 Special election, the Emerson Poll results were within a point of the actual results.

In the 2018 Midterm Election season, Emerson Polling conducted 54 congressional, gubernatorial, senate polls in 20 different states across the nation. Following the election, it was determined that Emerson Polling achieved statistical and predictive accuracy in 93% of these races. Notably, the Emerson Poll predicted the upset victory in the Nevada Senate race within a point.

Emerson College Polling is a Charter Member of the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Transparency Initiative— AAPOR is the leading professional organization of public opinion and survey research professionals in the United States, with members from academia, media, government, the nonprofit sector, and private industry. The Transparency Initiative membership demonstrates Emerson College Polling’s commitment to transparency in our research methods and our pledge to abide by AAPOR’s Code of Professional Ethics and Practices.

Emerson College Polling is part of the School of Communication at Emerson College and is designed to contribute to the educational mission of the College by providing students with valuable opportunities to enhance their educational experience by conducting public opinion surveys on business, economics, political and social issues and studying local, state, national and international populations.

Who We Are

  • Spencer Kimball
    • Professor Kimball teaches Political and Sports Communication courses in both the undergraduate and graduate programs at Emerson College. He is the director of Emerson Polling and the advisor for the Emerson Pre-Law Society and the Emerson College Polling Society. Kimball is a national pundit quoted in a variety of publications including the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Huffington Post, Washington Post, Fox News, the National Journal, and National Public Radio (NPR).
      • Phone: 617-824-3491
      • E-Mail: spencer_kimball@emerson.edu
  • Dr. Gregory Payne
    • Dr. Payne ‘s expertise is in political communication, public diplomacy, crisis communication, celebrity/spectacle media events and health communication, protest rhetoric, especially the shootings at Kent State. He has edited the American Behavioral Scientists campaign edition for every presidential election since 1988. He is the past president of the International Academy of Business Disciplines, past Chair of the NCA Political Communication Division, and current Chair of the Communication Studies Dept at Emerson.
      • Phone: 617-824-8737
  • Eiki Satake
    • Dr. Satake is a teacher and researcher in the areas of mathematics and applied statistics. He is the author of more than ten textbooks including Research and Statistical Methods in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CengageDelmar Learning), Handbook of Statistical Methods: Single Subject Designs (Plural Publishing), Introductory Statistics: A First Course(Kendall-Hunt Publishing). One of Satake’s books, entitled Actuarial Mathematics of Finance, was selected for the Basic Library List of The Mathematical Association of America. Satake’s current research interests include applications of the Bayesian statistical methods to the various fields of communication, probability logic, and validity studies.
      • Phone: 617-824-8295