Exit polling: field research and pedagogical benefits of community engagement

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Ana Bracic
Machenzie L. Israel-Trummel
Allyson F. Shortle


This article explores how bringing students into the research process provides pedagogical benefits for undergraduate students, while also offering faculty original data collection opportunities to further their research agendas. The data described in the article come from an Election Day exit poll fielded by sixty-one students in twelve diverse precincts in Oklahoma City and capture over 1200 voters. Response papers from students demonstrate the educational benefits of involving students in research, which cannot be easily replicated in a traditional classroom environment. Bivariate regression analysis of several 2016 state questions demonstrates the quality and utility of the data collected by students: the analysis shows that voters’ support for reclassifying certain non-violent felonies as misdemeanors is negatively associated with anti-Black racial attitudes; that preferences for lower levels of regulation did not drive support for the so-called alcohol modernization initiative; and that the repeal of the ban on spending public money on religion was not particularly popular—even among the most religiously observant voters in the sample. In total, this article shows that when faculty merge their research agendas with their teaching priorities, they can accrue significant gains in both areas.

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