BGSU College of Business Survey Research Expert Trent D. Buskirk Interviewed by Texas Public Radio

Written by Bailey Smith, College of Business Communications Intern

TrentThe Source, on Texas Public Radio, recently hosted an interview titled “Polls and Surveys are Used to Gauge Public Opinion. How Credible are the Results?” The Source is a daily, one-hour talk program that gives listeners in San Antonio the opportunity to connect with in-studio guests and the city-wide audience. The Source gives life, context, and breadth to the events and issues affecting San Antonio by interviewing newsmakers and experts to inform San Antonio Citizens.

In the months before an election, journalists, campaign committees, and voters review poll and survey statistics to determine public opinion on candidates, political parties, and policies. Dr. Trent Buskirk, Novak Family Professor of Data Science and Chair of the Applied Statistics and Operations Research Department in the BGSU College of Business, was one of three guests on The Source on Texas Public Radio. The other guests were Rob Santos, vice president and chief methodologist for the Urban Institute, former president of the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers, and president-elect of the American Statistical Association and Scott Keeter, senior survey advisor for the Pew Research Center. The interview was conducted by David Martin Davies, The Source. Recently, Buskirk was also a panelist at a media briefing hosted by Sciline and the American Statistical Association.

The science behind polling involves computer analysis of mathematical methods to determine a shared belief by a random sample of people. While the methods employed are far more sophisticated than straw polls of decades past, it is far from an exact science. Buskirk informed listeners that gold-standard polls typically contain a probability sample. Other considerations that may influence results include the timing of the poll, response rates, and the structure of the questions. Buskirk also indicated there are several resources available to the journalist community to help them vet and understand numbers they are reporting, such as Sciline.org.

“We are very pleased that Dr. Buskirk was selected as a guest for this interview”, commented Ray Braun ‘80, Dean of the College of Business. “This evidences his national reputation as an expert on polling and survey methodology.”