Quinnipiac Poll: A nationally recognized leader gauging the pulse of America on politics and policy

June 21, 2024

Donald Trump and Joe Biden debate.

As the U.S. presidential election ramps up, poll watchers across the country are closely following findings of the Quinnipiac Poll, a nationally recognized leader in public opinion research. 

Widely cited by journalists, public officials and researchers as one of the most trusted names among polling organizations, the Quinnipiac Poll’s success starts with asking the right questions at the right time and carries through to generating high-quality data results that national media outlets and other poll consumers can trust, said Doug Schwartz, associate vice president of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute and director of the Quinnipiac Poll.

Equally as important, the Quinnipiac Poll is an independent polling organization using best polling practices and rigorous, gold standard methodology. Staff are members of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). The Quinnipiac Poll is a charter member of AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative.

“We’ve got great people working on the team,” said Schwartz. “What makes us stand out nationally is the high-quality data that we produce. I do think this separates us, because there are many polls out there, but there aren’t many high-quality polls.”

The importance of the Quinnipiac Poll in national elections has grown even more in the past decade as major pollsters including Gallup and Pew Research Center have stopped polling on presidential elections, Schwartz said.

“I think the Quinnipiac Poll has filled a void, and so it’s really important that Quinnipiac continues to be out there producing high-quality, independent polling data,” said Schwartz.

Founded in 1988 at then-Quinnipiac College by a marketing research professor, the late Paul Falcigno, as part of a class project, the first polls were conducted statewide. Schwartz joined the team as poll director in 1994 and is credited with expanding the poll’s reach. The Quinnipiac Poll has gone on to become a dominant national and international leader for gauging the American voting public, on a continual basis, regarding key public policy issues and elections.

The march to national recognition first began with the poll’s expansion into New York and New Jersey, said Schwartz.

“We polled on the 1998 U.S. Senate race between Democrat Chuck Schumer and the incumbent Republican Al D'Amato and we were the only poll to accurately predict in that election that Schumer would easily defeat D'Amato,” said Schwartz.

In the next election cycle, the Quinnipiac Poll was the only poll to accurately predict U.S. Senate candidate Hilary Clinton would win her 2000 race by a comfortable victory margin.

“Those two elections brought us the national attention,” said Schwartz. “After that, we started a national poll in 2001, which increased our national visibility. Next, we did something other pollsters weren’t doing at the time — we started polling in swing states in presidential elections.”

Following U.S. presidential candidate Al Gore’s 2000 loss of the electoral college vote, despite winning the popular vote, the Quinnipiac Poll team saw an opportunity to take the lead in polling swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania.

“To us, that illustrated how important certain swing states were,” said Schwartz.

In 2008, the Quinnipiac Poll built in another offering making it unique among national polling organizations.

“We developed a swing state package where we would poll in multiple swing states at once. This was very successful. Our election predictions were right on target,” said Schwartz. “We’ve continued to produce swing state packages in subsequent elections, which is another way the poll became distinguished nationally.”

Findings of the Quinnipiac Poll are routinely reported by news organizations including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Associated Press, BBC, Reuters, USA Today, NPR, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. 

For the June 27 U.S. presidential debate on CNN, the Quinnipiac Poll stands among those national polls meeting CNN’s standards for reporting for candidates who must, among other factors, receive at least 15% in four separate national polls of registered or likely voters.

The current U.S. presidential race underscores the need to produce accurate, credible polling results, Schwartz said.

“You have to trust your numbers, and we’ve had a long, successful track record,” said Schwartz. “Nonetheless, every election weighs heavily, and you want to do everything that you possibly can to get it right.”

All results of the Quinnipiac Poll are available for public consumption at its website, which offers data going back nearly 30 years. In 2015, the Library of Congress selected the Quinnipiac Poll website for inclusion in its historic collection of internet materials related to public policy topics.

“We put all of our poll results on our website so that the average person who just wants more information or wants to dig a little bit deeper on our polls, or do some trend research, can look up a particular topic. We view it as a public service,” Schwartz said. “Our transparency is important to us. A lot of other polls don’t explain in detail how they did the poll. We’ve always taken pride in explaining how we do the poll. To me, it’s very important for credibility.”

At Quinnipiac University, the Quinnipiac Poll also partners with professors to offer a signature experience course to students across disciplines such as political science, marketing research, and journalism.

“That’s something that’s special that we offer the students, an opportunity to study and analyze the Quinnipiac Poll data and do reports on our data,” said Schwartz.

Quinnipiac students can also work as poll interviewers.

“They get a hands-on experience where they learn about professional interviewing techniques, question wording, current events. It’s a good experience,” said Schwartz.

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