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Brian Schaffner
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Entries by Brian Schaffner

When It Comes to Washington, Most Americans Blame Both Sides

(10) Comments | Posted March 19, 2013 | 11:11 AM

With little hope for a grand bargain in Washington any time soon, many pundits have turned their attention to understanding who will receive more of the blame for the lack of a compromise. Traditional polls tend to force respondents to make a choice between whether they assign more...

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Why Late Campaign News Is Likely to Have Little Effect

(1) Comments | Posted November 1, 2012 | 12:40 PM

Political commentators and onlookers often speculate about the possible effects that late-breaking news might have on a campaign. Will the president's handling of the hurricane affect the race? Will the October jobs report shake things up? The fact is, there is little chance of moving the...

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Does Elizabeth Warren Have a Wealthy Woman Problem?

(22) Comments | Posted October 11, 2012 | 1:00 PM

When Elizabeth Warren entered the Massachusetts Senate race last year, it was widely anticipated that her candidacy would be particularly popular with women in the state. While Democrats consistently benefit from large gender gaps in statewide races (Deval Patrick won re-election in 2010 largely because of a 20-plus...

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Does Survey Mode Still Matter?

(0) Comments | Posted May 9, 2011 | 12:04 PM

Over the past several years, pollsters have been working to understand the best approach to conducting survey research in a world where no single technology allows them to reach the entire public. Most reputable polling organizations have adapted their national telephone polls to call both landlines and cell phones in...

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What Happened to Scott Brown Voters?

(5) Comments | Posted November 10, 2010 | 9:30 AM

Whether you want to call the 2010 midterm elections a wave or a tsunami, Scott Brown was at the leading edge of the Republican tide when he scored an unexpected victory over Martha Coakley in the January special election for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts. But while Brown scored...

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Massachusetts Exit Poll: Deval Patrick Owes His Reelection to Women

(2) Comments | Posted November 2, 2010 | 11:52 PM

The National Election Pool did not conduct an exit poll for the Massachusetts gubernatorial race this year. However, I led a team of students at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst to sample voters at 18 precincts across the state today. You can find specifics on our Massachusetts Exit Poll survey,...

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Will Hispanic Turnout Really Be Down in 2010?

(19) Comments | Posted October 7, 2010 | 4:35 PM

On Tuesday, the Pew Hispanic Center released a report suggesting that Hispanic turnout will likely drop significantly in the upcoming midterm elections. The report has generated a fair amount of news coverage, but the coverage has also been criticized for failing to provide sufficient...

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Will Risk-Averse Voters Help Endangered Incumbents?

(17) Comments | Posted September 28, 2010 | 2:32 PM

There is little doubt that 2010 will be a bad year for Democrats, with many Democratic incumbents likely to lose to Republican challengers in both House and Senate races. The real question is how bad it will be -- will enough Democratic incumbents lose to shift control of the House...

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Framing Risks, Losses, and Costs During the Health Care Reform Debate

(0) Comments | Posted April 28, 2010 | 8:42 AM

Brendan Nyhan posted yesterday about his article in the just-released special issue of The Forum on the politics of health care reform. There are several compelling articles in the issue by notable scholars, including Representative David Price.

My own contribution to the issue (along with co-author David Eckles)...

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Dispatch from the Bay State

(0) Comments | Posted January 19, 2010 | 3:26 PM

When I moved from DC to Amherst in August I was looking forward to the charm of a small New England college town and the relative affordability of housing (compared to prices inside the beltway, at least). But what I knew I'd miss the most was living at the center...

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A Victory for IVR Polling?

(0) Comments | Posted November 4, 2009 | 1:26 PM

A friend sent me a couple of links earlier pointing to pundits and pollsters who are taking last night's results as evidence for the merits of IVR polling. First off, as Mark noted earlier, it is a bit too early to be making such comparisons. With regard...

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Loss Aversion and Opinions on Health Care Reform

(0) Comments | Posted August 28, 2009 | 1:37 PM

The New Yorker has an interesting piece on how the public's aversion to losses (or loss aversion) limits the extent to which they are willing to favor health care reform. That piece and some others that preceded it are worth reading to understand one reason that...

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The Public's View of Obama and McCain's Campaign Strategies

(0) Comments | Posted June 17, 2009 | 3:18 PM

Political pundits generally settle on a shared view of a campaign, one that includes a story about which groups each candidate worked hardest to win votes from. But how does the general public perceive the candidates' campaign strategies?

In 2008, I included a battery on the Cooperative Congressional Election...

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Understanding the Political Distinctiveness of the Cell Phone Only Public: Results from the 2006 and 2008 CCES

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2009 | 10:27 PM

A few weeks ago, I highlighted some preliminary findings from a paper written by myself and Stephen Ansolabehere for this week's AAPOR conference. The paper is now finished and you can check out a copy

. The data we use for...

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Pollsters Are Not The Only Ones Who Struggle to Reach Cell-Phone-Onlys

(0) Comments | Posted April 26, 2009 | 10:41 PM

The survey research community is focusing intently on the challenges posed by the fast-growing share of Americans who are cell-phone-onlys (CPOs). In fact, there are 40 papers being presented on the topic at the AAPOR conference next month. One of the practical issues faced by pollsters is whether...

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Different Approaches for Reaching CPOs, (Mostly) Similar Results

(0) Comments | Posted April 15, 2009 | 5:36 PM

Steve Ansolabehere and I have been working over the past few weeks on a paper we are writing for the AAPOR conference next month. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll share some of our preliminary findings here and I wanted to lead off today by presenting some comparative...

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Risk and Political Preferences

(0) Comments | Posted March 28, 2009 | 10:15 PM

Anyone who has ever watched Deal or No Deal has noticed that some people are far more willing to take risks than others. Not only does a person's tolerance for risk affect their decisions about whether to open another suitcase on a game show, but it also influences...

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Dispatches: Can Pollsters Influence Policy by Determining Whose Voices Are Heard?

(0) Comments | Posted February 19, 2009 | 7:43 AM

This post is part of's week-long series on Stan Greenberg's new book, Dispatches from the War Room.

I've enjoyed reading through Greenberg's thought-provoking book over the last several days. The exercise has led me to think not just about the relationship between pollsters and their clients, but also...

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We Have A Lot to Learn About the Cell Phone Only Population

(0) Comments | Posted February 2, 2009 | 8:34 PM

Frequent readers will know that the Cell Phone Only (CPO) population is a subject I blogged on frequently during the campaign. One of the reasons for this interest is because there is still a lot we don't know about CPOs at this point (I...

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Don't Use Polls to Project the Size of the Inaugural Crowd

(0) Comments | Posted January 19, 2009 | 12:43 PM

Back in December, a SurveyUSA poll drew some attention and fueled the hype regarding the large crowds expected for Tuesday's inauguration ceremonies. In that poll, an incredible 12% of respondents reported that they were planning to "attend the inauguration of President Obama in Washington, DC." That would translate...

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