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Professor Calls First Ever Missouri State Poll a Success

This fall, students helped conduct the first-ever Missouri State University Poll. They sampled public opinion in Greene County on several topics. KSMU’s Missy Shelton reports.

A political science class at Missouri State University conducted a public opinion poll. Students helped set up the poll and even took turns making phone calls for a two week period in late September and early October. They asked respondents for basic demographic information, their view on the economy, and the direction the state is headed. For junior Ashley Diaz, it was a worthwhile project.

Diaz says, “It’s definitely been an extreme advantage to be able to get real world experience. It’s one thing to look at a textbook and say, ‘This is how you run a poll. This is how you get the data.’ But it’s another thing to feel like you helped collect the data. It’s a lot more interesting that way.”

Nearly 600 people in Greene County completed the survey over the phone. It’s a large enough sample size to allow the students to draw conclusions from their data about the general population. The poll found that almost everyone surveyed felt they were doing about the same financially as compared to a year ago. Missouri State political science professor Dr. Brian Calfano supervised the poll. He explains this finding.

Calfano says, “I think that reflects the understanding that this economic crisis and the downturn in employment and other economic indicators is here to stay for a while. But people are not looking at this from a pessimistic standpoint, saying we can only get worse. Maybe people are seeing this as rock bottom.”

Calfano says he’s pleased with how the poll went and expects to broaden it next spring to include public opinion on the candidates in Missouri running for US Senate.

Calfano says, “Beginning in February, we’ll start with a series of statewide polls that we’ll be releasing that will start to look at the senate race and right direction/wrong direction type questions, not just for the state of Missouri but for the US. We want to position the Missouri State University Poll as a Missouri-based poll that national news and commentary organizations can look to as a source of quality information about the public and their viewpoints in the state of Missouri.”

This fall’s poll included questions about the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools to help determine attitudes about and awareness of the foundation in the community. Including questions in the poll about the foundation allowed the Missouri State students to provide valuable information to the foundation, which could not afford to do its own public opinion polling.