MCAP releases new survey results

Mercyhurst University wanted to know what the people want. Specifically, the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics (MCAP) wanted to know.

This was the inspiration for the winter 2012 survey conducted by the center, which polled registered voters across Pennsylvania about the upcoming 2012 election.

According to the recently released results, women preferred President Barack Obama to top GOP contender Mitt Romney 44 percent to 36 percent.

These results did not surprise Joseph Morris, Ph.D., associate professor of political science and director of the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics.

“Although we were not surprised to learn that Pennsylvania’s female voters prefer Obama over Romney (44 percent-36 percent), there were some surprises,” said Morris. “First, 73 percent of women indicate that if Barack Obama dropped Joe Biden and added Hillary Clinton to the ticket, it would have no effect on their choice of candidates in 2012.

“Given the widespread support for Clinton in 2008 among Pennsylvania’s female voters, we expected to find a little more enthusiasm for an Obama-Clinton ticket than we found,” he said.

With the highly anticipated results being released last week, Morris indicated that the topic of the survey conducted this term was selected for two reasons.

“First, in presidential elections more women than men vote, and they often vote for different candidates. For example, in the 2008 presidential election, 58 percent of Pennsylvania’s female voters cast a ballot for Barack Obama compared to only 51 percent of men,” Morris said.

“Second, Mercyhurst University was founded by women for women. We always keep our history and mission in mind when we’re deciding the topic of a study.”

The survey results produced by MCAP are a culmination of effort put forth by Associate Director Rolfe Peterson, Ph.D., and the numerous student workers that put in hours conducting the phone surveys and gathering results.

Also working with MCAP is Mercyhurst alumnus Sean Fedorko, who, in addition to data management, works with research associates to train them before the survey begins.

Of the day-to-day operations at MCAP when a survey is in full swing, Morris said the students working at the center were a combination of work studies and volunteers.

“We usually have between 25 and 30 students working for us at any given time. Some are paid through the work study program, but most are volunteers,” he said. “Our research associates not only include political science majors/minors, but students from education, English, communications, business, psychology, biology, social work and several other disciplines.”

With the results of MCAP’s “What Women Want” survey being used by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Harrisburg Patriot-News, PoliticsPA, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Erie Times-News, Lancaster Intelligencer as well as several bloggers, many are wondering what MCAP’s next survey will be about.

“We have several things we would like to learn about Pennsylvania voters and the 2012 election, but we’re waiting to see how things unfold before we settle on a topic. Our next poll will be conducted in the spring, and then we’ll be off until the fall,” Morris said.

Anyone interested in working with MCAP can email Morris at