Elon Poll projects people’s voice into public light

Junior Emily Ward volunteers with the Elon Poll, which collects state opinions regarding a variety of national issues. Photo by Sara Hudak

Elon students reach into the community and out to the public with the Elon Poll. The increased use of social media and partnership with North Carolina media organizations contributed to the political dialogue that characterizes the Elon Poll.

The Elon Poll, held from Feb. 26 through March 1, covered such topics as the approval and disapproval rates for President Obama, the economy, the governor’s race and the national GOP race, among other things, said John Robinson, director of communications for the Elon Poll. The poll is conducted by phone with North Carolina residents.

Poll Welcomes New Leadership Ken Fernandez and Jason Husser will begin work with the Elon Poll in June and August, respectively.
“The Elon Poll’s purpose is to promote citizen engagement,” said Mileah Kromer, assistant director of the Elon Poll. “President Lambert wants students to be engaged citizens. This is (an opportunity) for them to exemplify that message through engaging citizens in public discourse.”

Robinson encouraged a greater push toward connecting with citizens through social media in the Elon Poll this year, he said. Robinson, former editor of The Greensboro News & Record, has a strong social media background.

“The idea of the Elon Poll is to give all North Carolina citizens a voice,” Robinson said. “I do think that there’s a public service value to polling and letting (North Carolina citizens) know what their peers around the state are thinking. We wanted to use social media and blogs to raise visibility and allow citizens to interact with the poll.”

Elon University Poll on Facebook and @elonpoll on Twitter have posted several links related to politics and the poll itself, even posting links from competing polls to ensure the poll is a curator for political media.

“There’s a lot of information out there that people gather, not just in the Elon Poll but in other polls,” Robinson said. “It would be cool to have a polling site that curates that kind of information, so ultimately our goal as the Elon Poll site is between our Facebook page our Twitter and our blog, which is not up yet, it could be a one-stop shop. (People) could come to one of the Elon Poll sites and find the interesting issues of the day and find out what people around North Carolina and (around the U.S.) think about them.”

Kromer said the members of the Poll are thankful to be a part of the public discourse in the state of North Carolina.

The partnership with the media organizations produced a positive experience as well, according to Eric Townsend, director of Elon University News Bureau.

The most recent Elon Poll has partnered with five media organizations throughout the state of North Carolina. News & Observer, Charlotte Observer, WTVD Television, WCNC Television and News14 Carolina received the results March 1 when the results were compiled. Traditionally with the Elon Poll, the numbers have been run, crunched and released immediately, but the publically delayed release provides the media organizations with time to do their own stories surrounding the data before the poll results are released to the public on March 9, according to Robinson.

“This is an opportunity (for the poll) to work with some of the most recognizable media in the state,” Townsend said. “Everything just came together at the right time for everyone involved. The other media organizations have been talking amongst themselves about doing some polling on issues of importance to North Carolinians. At the same time, the Elon University Poll has been always open to helping media out, and we saw this as an opportunity to perhaps join with a group that was already in place and ask some of the questions that they were looking at.”

The media partnership, while it is currently a one-time partnership, may continue in the future, he said.

“We’re certainly happy that we were able to work with these organizations to ask questions that they thought would be of interest to their readers,” Townsend said. “We’ve always thought would be of interest to the citizens of North Carolina.”

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