This election season can be described a lot of ways, but “boring” is not one of them. Watching the news, it seems that pundits agree there are some unusual things happening-- can we trust conventional polling methods, strategy, and political wisdom to make sense of it all?
This past Wednesday, the Martin School and the Department of Political Science hosted an expert panel featuring Dr. Stephen Voss, Celinda Lake, and Robert Blizzard. Dr. Voss is a political science professor here at UK, and Celinda and Robert are both prominent political strategists that often work on opposite sides of the aisle. Their discussion was engaging, extremely relevant, and informative.
Dr. Voss framed the conversation by looking at recent Kentucky elections to highlight the large margins by which public political polling has gotten it wrong. Methods haven’t changed, but something about the climate has changed. Robert Blizzard, having worked for a firm that has used private polling to advise hundreds of candidates, highlighted ways public polling could be better, focusing on how constructing a sample might be improved.
Both political strategists agreed that voters are not in a happy place-- a majority of Americans have felt we as a nation have been on the wrong track for more than a decade, the longest negative streak ever seen. Celinda took a closer look at how the population has changed and the ways messaging is informed by polling. The nation is not only becoming more diverse, but also family dynamics are also changing. Lake felt that no one was paying enough attention to the fact that almost a majority of mothers today are single moms, for example.
We’re a bit biased (and very nerdy), but what an enjoyable discussion! We cannot thank the Board of Visitors, and especially Mike Ruehling, Brad Cowgill, and Crit Luallen for arranging to have such interesting and entertaining speakers and agreeing to moderate the discussion.