Political Science Professor Ana Bracic poses with several exit poll students on voting day.
Exit Poll From a Student's Perspective
Over the course of the fall 2018 semester, students enrolled in PSC 3763, The Oklahoma City Exit Poll, were trained to administer a real-life exit poll in the Oklahoma City metro. Following their thorough training, students traveled to voting precincts across Oklahoma City on voting day in November. The students surveyed roughly 1,400 voters from various demographics and backgrounds, and received a positive response from participants.
The students were accompanied by Political Science Professors Ana Bracic, Allyson Shortle and Mackenzie Israel-Trummel, who are also part of OU's Community Engagements and Experiments Lab, which was recently nominated for the OU Provost Award for Community Engagement Research. The exit poll was also featured on KGOU news following the election, where professor Allyson Shortle gave insight on how to interpret the data. The information from the Oklahoma City Exit poll is being used in various outlets, including student and faculty research, as well as a resource for journalists across the nation.
Matthew Lugibihl, a sophomore political science major, participated in the exit poll course and shared his experience.
What was your favorite part of the exit poll experience?
"The exit poll class took an experimental approach to teaching a nuanced subject. The class had its fair share of readings and papers as any humanities class should, but it accompanied this with tactile field work. For an undergraduate student, it introduced me to some of the methodologies political scientists use on a regular basis, and I was a part of it. Exit polls, specifically, are some of the more exciting research. They address the headlines and daily new cycle with which political science students constantly entertain themselves, myself included. These were real voters with real opinions. This is actually how power is transferred—the ballot box. This all culminated into an unforgettable class and the most edifying of experiences, being in the community that we are privileged to study."
Was there something that surprised you about interacting with Oklahoma voters or the process?
"Polling is a fascinating study on its own, but some of its hurdles are difficult to contextualize. Non-response bias and sampling bias are put in a whole new light when you are the one having to approach strangers of all kinds to fill out a lengthy questionnaire. From caustic personalities to those more timid, from the working mother to the young, wealthy man: we saw and heard the Oklahoma City community. Being outside of the classroom put faces to numbers, and the symbiotic informational exchange between pollsters and respondents was something to behold."
"We saw and heard the Oklahoma City community." -Matthew Lugibihl
Did this experience contribute to your educational career?
"A valid criticism of academia has always been its isolation from the real world, and the impact of this phenomena is bidirectional. The knowledge produced can have trouble improving the community it studies. On one hand, students struggle with real-world understandings of chalkboard problems. On the other, the community sees a pretentious tower of scholarship waxing poetic upon their everyday trials. The exit poll class allowed these two perspectives to meet. The physical experience of polling voters helped me to put a physical world to my academic studies, and this made the experience invaluable to my educational career."
Former Governor Mary Fallin stopped to greet Professor Allyson Shortle and a few students on her way to vote.