“Would you like to take a survey about society and politics?”
Callers for The Winthrop Poll use this phrase in their phone surveys as an invitation for people to participate in their research.
Winthrop alumna Allie Briggs started her journey with the Winthrop Poll saying that same phrase. However, Briggs recently landed her dream job as operations manager for the Winthrop Poll.
“I started working for the poll in 2010 as part of a class requirement for my research methods course,” Briggs said. “I ended up loving it so much that I continued to work in the lab doing survey methodology.”
Briggs’ role as the operations manager is to oversee the proper operation of four polls conducted throughout the year under the direction of Dr. Huffmon, the founder of the poll. Briggs oversees approximately 60 student employees, making sure everyone is doing their job and that the surveys are statistically accurate and unbiased.
The Winthrop Poll is unique for a variety of reasons. The Winthrop Poll uses a specific sample of people with cell phones only. Thirty-five percent of South Carolinians are wireless so using this sample allows the Winthrop Poll to reach more people than through landlines alone.
“When we call people for surveys, we have to constantly think about population demographics to make sure we’re representing society accurately,” Briggs said.
Another unique feature of the Winthrop Poll is that it isn’t sponsored by a specific political party. Political sponsorship leads to biased answers and the Winthrop Poll strives to provide unbiased information about the opinions and needs of South Carolinians.
According to Briggs, the Winthrop Poll is a snapshot of the way South Carolinians feel and a chance for South Carolinians to participate in democracy. Even though South Carolina is equally democrat and republican, not all people are registered to vote. The Winthrop Poll collects the views of everyone, not just registered voters, in order to inform public policy makers about the views of all South Carolinians.
“One of my favorite things is researching social issues and seeing the truth about what South Carolinians really believe, not just what people think we believe,” Briggs said.
The Winthrop Poll attracts media attention both locally and nationally. The poll has been recognized by news organizations such as ABC News and The New York Times, to name a few. However, many students at Winthrop don’t know the significance of The Winthrop Poll.
“The Winthrop Poll is such a great resource and gives students hands-on experience in conducting research in the social sciences,” Briggs said. “It goes beyond what you would get in the classroom.”
Briggs encourages any students, not just political science students, to get involved with the poll. Paid positions as callers for the poll are currently available. Applications are available online at www.winthrop.edu/winthroppoll and are due Sept. 27 along with a cover letter and resume.
“Most students are looking for the best method to search for the truth and research methods was my ‘ah-ha’ moment,” Briggs said.