Did you know that UMass Lowell has a polling center? Like, one that collects data from people about their opinion and then analyzes the information so that the world can learn what people really think about esports or the link between sports and concussions?
Fun fact: Both of those were topics for polls and surveys conducted by the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion. The polls the center conducts are sent to media outlets all over the world and helps a variety of different fields gain necessary data to move their missions forward.
Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know about our polling center. Honestly, I didn’t know we had one either until about a month ago. Even after working here for a year-and-a-half, there’s so much to do and see here at UML that I’m still learning and surprised pretty often (in a good way!).
What does the Center for Public Opinion do?
The Center for Public Opinion provides students and faculty with access to public opinion research on a variety of topics. This is important because the findings can help the public get a better understanding of government policies, civic culture and encourage people to take an active role in the world around them.
They also help us predict our elections. Like, the upcoming presidential election. More on that below.
One thing I’ve noticed working here and talking to our office interns is that UML students are inquisitive, hardworking and super interested in making the world a better place. Usually through research they’ve conducted in the classroom and with professors. One pathway our students use to get practice conducting research and analyzing data is through working with the UML Center for Public Opinion.
Hannah Daly ‘18 was one such student. In her public opinion research class, she worked with other students to design surveys and polls, one of which was used in a survey conducted by the Center for Public Opinion.
What exactly is polling?
Basically, it’s data that is collected in-person or through online polls to figure out what a group of people believe about something.
By data collection, I mean information or an opinion that’s given willingly and with the knowledge about what the information is going to be used for. People participate in the polls because they want to. It’s not something that collects your information and data without your knowledge or consent.
After the polling is complete, someone goes through and analyzes the data to see if they can get a better understanding of the percentage or ratio of people who believe a certain thing.
Polling and surveys can cover any topic that people have an opinion about:
- The amount of dog-people vs. cat-people in a state
- The percentage of Xbox vs. PlayStation owners (imo, Switch is the way to go)
- Attitudes towards gun control (poll conducted by the Center for Public Opinion in 2014)
- The biggest issues voters care about
If you follow the news, you’ll see that many recent polls are being used to predict how people will vote in the upcoming Democratic Primaries.
So, what does this matter and why am I telling you?
UMass Lowell is currently following the U.S. Democratic Primaries and polling to get an idea about how the general public feels about the nominees.
They released their first results of the survey Monday. Conducted from January 28-31, the survey was administered to 400 New Hampshire Democratic Primary voters.
This is just one of many polling results centered around the primaries I’ll be sharing in the next few months. I thought it was pretty cool that UML plays an active part in the process and encourages students to participate and make informed decisions in regards to the future of this country.