Democracy Forum 6/16/23: Public Opinion Polling: Is It Good for Democracy

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine

The mostly volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Martha Dickinson, Michael Fisher, Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Lisa Leaverton, Ann Luther, Rick Lyles, Judith Lyles, Wendilee O’Brien, Lane Sturtevant, Leah Taylor, and Linda Washburn.

Democracy Forum: Participatory Democracy, encouraging citizens to take an active role in government and politics

This month:
We’ll talk about whether modern polling techniques have been good for democracy. Is polling a reflection of public opinion; is it shaping public opinion; or is it distorting public opinion? Who is it helping? And how can we be responsible consumers of polling information?

Ashley Koning, Assistant Research Professor and Director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
Dan Shea, Chair and Professor of Government at Colby College.

To learn more about this topic:
Public Opinion Polling Basics | Pew Research Center
Two Schools of Polling Are Converging: Reflecting on a Tumultuous Decade | The New York Times, May, 2023
How Public Polling Has Changed in the 21st Century | Pew Research Center Methods, April, 2023
Polls’ Representative Samples Often Merit Skepticism | WSJ, April, 2023
The Polls Were Historically Accurate In 2022 | FiveThirtyEight, March, 2023
Some midterm polls were on-target – but finding which pollsters and poll aggregators to believe can be challenging | The Conversation, November, 2022
Seven Ways to Evaluate a Poll | FiveThirtyEight, August, 2021
Harvard experts weigh the good and bad of political predictions | The Harvard Gazette, November, 2020
The Problems Inherent in Political Polling | The New Yorker, March, 2020
Can We Trust the Presidential-Election Polls? | The New Yorker, March 2020

About the host:
Ann currently serves as Treasurer of the League of Women Voters of Maine and leads the LWVME Advocacy Team. She served as President of LWVME from 2003 to 2007 and as co-president from 2007-2009. In her work for the League, Ann has worked for greater public understanding of public policy issues and for the League’s priority issues in Clean Elections & Campaign Finance Reform, Voting Rights, Ethics in Government, Ranked Choice Voting, and Repeal of Term Limits. Representing LWVME at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, she served that coalition as co-president from 2006 to 2011. She remains on the board of MCCE and serves as Treasurer. She is active in the LWV-Downeast and hosts their monthly radio show, The Democracy Forum, on WERU FM Community Radio -which started out in 2004 as an recurring special, and became a regular monthly program in 2012. She was the 2013 recipient of the Baldwin Award from the ACLU of Maine for her work on voting rights and elections. She joined the League in 1998 when she retired as Senior Vice President at SEI Investments. Ann was a founder of the MDI Restorative Justice Program, 1999 – 2000, and served on its Executive Board.