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10/19/2006 Linfield students conduct statewide political poll

McMINNVILLE - Students from two Linfield College classes teamed up to design and execute a recent statewide pre-election poll.

Linfield juniors and seniors in Mass Media, Politics and Public Opinion taught by Brad Thompson, assistant professor of mass communication, and Social Research Methods led by Amy Orr, associate professor of sociology, came together for the project.

The poll focused on the governor's race and the 10 initiatives that will be on ballots across the state. Students created 50 questions then conducted telephone interviews. In more than 200 person-hours of calling, students dialed approximately 8,000 telephone numbers and interviewed 253 respondents. The poll has a 6 percent margin of error.

The class project combines strengths from each curriculum, those of quantitative and experiential learning, according to Thompson.

"Students got hands-on polling experience and learned what it takes to run a poll," Thompson said. "It makes it real for them."

Orr agreed. In her Social Research Methods class, students learn about sampling, survey construction and administering surveys. She said the project helped them to understand the process in a way that is not allowed by simply reading a book.

"Though they had a low response rate, and their sample does not appear to be representative of the population of Oregon voters, students learned valuable lessons about the complexities and challenges of conducting social research," Orr said.

Complete poll results are available at