Campus Life

Exit Poll to be conducted by UWF Government students

The University of West Florida (UWF) Department of Government is conducting an exit poll on Nov. 6, to provide students with an opportunity to engage the local community about voting choice and issues that matter to the voting public.

Institutions around the country are participating in the project, developed by Professor Jennifer Emery at UWF, Alison Howard at Dominican University of California, and Mary Jane Lindrum of Soomo Publishing.

The survey will include election-centered questions involving perceptions about candidates, partisanship, and policy issues. It also includes demographic indicators to allow students to compare local voter attributes to national exit poll results.

“Students are excited to see results from the poll because they are helping to create the data at every stage, from writing questions, to sampling voters, and entering the answers into a database,” said Professor Jennifer Emery. “That’s a rare experience.”

Dr. Jocelyn Evans, Chair of the UWF Department of Government, was involved in the original development of the project and has helped coordinate it across the participating campuses. Evans also developed multimedia assignments to prepare students for the poll.

“The first time a class of UWF students conducted an exit poll of Escambia County was for Election Day 2004,” said Dr. Jocelyn Evans. “At this point, the project provides students the chance to examine local voter preferences and change over the last several election cycles. We are very fortunate to be able to offer this learning experience to our students at such a critical time in their personal development as young adults watching and evaluating democracy in action.”

Students from the Public Opinion and Introduction to American Politics classes prepared for the exit poll by completing a series of interactive assignments focused on survey design, sampling technique, bias correction and data literacy. Students in Analyzing Political Issues, a research methods course, are acting as data analysts by applying their recently acquired statistical skills to compare the samples generated by counties included in the data consortium.

The students participating in the project are earning certification in conducting human subjects research, gaining hands-on experience speaking with voters, and acting as scientists engaged in the research process within a national scholarly community.