Polling society releases results on sports, politics

by Ross Cristantiello / Beacon Staff • September 24, 2015

The Emerson College Polling Society published the results of their most recent national poll, which show that the country is split on “deflategate,” the national football scandal involving the New England Patriots. They also show that Ben Carson has risen in popularity among the GOP presidential hopefuls.

The poll, which was conducted from Sept. 5-8, asked people a series of 30 questions spanning sports and politics.  The two “are not oil and water” according to Spencer Kimball, a professor of communication at Emerson and the advisor to the college’s polling society.

“I think sports is a big part of politics,” Kimball said.  

The sports questions in the poll generally focused on the National Football League and the New England Patriots. Of those asked, 48 percent still think the Patriots cheated in a 2014 playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts, while 52 percent do not.  These results are similar to ones from a survey conducted in February right before the Super Bowl, when the “deflategate” saga began.

“It’s very difficult to change people’s opinions on issues,” Kimball said.

The public’s opinion on Tom Brady has changed a lot since February. Of the people polled, 47 percent believe he should be suspended for being involved the alleged deflation of footballs last season, giving his team an advantage over their losing opponents.  Only 25 percent of those polled in February said this, according to the published analysis of the most recent poll.

Politically, Ben Carson is the only GOP candidate to have a higher favorability rating than unfavorable rating.  His favor among Republican voters has risen, having bumped up from five percent to 20 percent.  However, Donald Trump still leads with a 33 percent favorability rating, the highest out of any Republican candidates.

Hillary Clinton remains steady, as 47 percent of those polled said they would vote for her in the Democratic primary.  Clinton's overall favorability has not changed much recently, which is something that stood out to Christine Kane, one of the co-presidents of polling society.

“The way I interpret that is that there’s a very unshakeable core of people who would never vote for her under any circumstances,” Kane, a senior political communication major, said.

With the presidential race picking up steam, Kane said this is a critical time for the polling community.

“We’re doing things on a bigger scale, and we’re doing some things that we haven’t done before,” Kane said.

The society is launching their Presidential Polling Initiative, which, according to Kimball, will place a heavy emphasis on transparency of data. This means they will publish extra data that illustrates how their conclusions were reached, as opposed to a lot of commercial polling institutions.

“We want our experiences to be available to other pollsters, to academics who are interested in looking at the mechanics of an election,” Kane said.

This initiative will also let students learn about polling by focusing on key states in the presidential race like Iowa and New Hampshire.

These polls are a collaborative effort between the society’s members and Kimball.

“The genesis of the questions come from the students,” Kimball said.

The group plans to poll nationally every four to six weeks during the presidential race.  They have tentatively scheduled their next one to be conducted in mid-October, after the first Democratic debate.