Public Policy Polling

Last updated
Public Policy Polling
Industry Opinion polling
Founded2001;18 years ago (2001)
Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.
FounderDean Debnam
2912 Highwoods Boulevard, Suite 201
Raleigh, North Carolina
Area served
United States
Key people
Dean Debnam (President, CEO)
Tom Jensen (Director)

Public Policy Polling (PPP) is a U.S. Democratic [1] polling firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina. [2] [3] [4] PPP was founded in 2001 by businessman Dean Debnam, the firm's current president and chief executive officer. [5]

Democratic Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.

Raleigh, North Carolina Capital of North Carolina

Raleigh is the capital of the state of North Carolina and the seat of Wake County in the United States. Raleigh is the second-largest city in the state, after Charlotte. Raleigh is known as the "City of Oaks" for its many oak trees, which line the streets in the heart of the city. The city covers a land area of 142.8 square miles (370 km2). The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's population as 479,332 as of July 1, 2018. It is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. The city of Raleigh is named after Sir Walter Raleigh, who established the lost Roanoke Colony in present-day Dare County.

North Carolina State of the United States of America

North Carolina is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west, Virginia to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. North Carolina is the 28th-most extensive and the 9th-most populous of the U.S. states. The state is divided into 100 counties. The capital is Raleigh, which along with Durham and Chapel Hill is home to the largest research park in the United States. The most populous municipality is Charlotte, which is the second-largest banking center in the United States after New York City.


In addition to political issues, the company has polled the public on topics such as the approval rating of God, [6] whether Republican voters believe President Obama would be eligible to enter heaven in the event of the Rapture, [7] whether hipsters should be subjected to a special tax for being annoying, [8] and whether Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer. [9] [10]

Barack Obama 44th president of the United States

Barack Hussein Obama II is an American attorney and politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, he was the first African American to be elected to the presidency. He previously served as a U.S. senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008.

Rapture in some forms of Protestantism, an eschatological event when all alive true believers will rise along with the resurrected dead believers into Heaven and join Christ, based on 1 Thess. 4:17

The rapture is an eschatological concept of certain Christians, particularly within branches of North American evangelicalism, consisting of an end time event when all Christian believers who are alive will rise along with the resurrected dead believers into Heaven and join Christ. Some adherents believe this event is predicted and described in Paul's First Epistle to the Thessalonians in the Bible, where he uses the Greek harpazo (ἁρπάζω), meaning to snatch away or seize. Though it has been used differently in the past, the term is now often used by certain believers to distinguish this particular event from the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to Earth mentioned in Second Thessalonians, Gospel of Matthew, First Corinthians, and Revelation, usually viewing it as preceding the Second Coming and followed by a thousand year millennial kingdom. Adherents of this perspective are sometimes referred to as premillenial dispensationalists, but amongst them there are differing viewpoints about the exact timing of the event.

Hipster (contemporary subculture) contemporary subculture

The hipster subculture is stereotypically composed of young adults who reside primarily in gentrified neighborhoods. It is broadly associated with indie and alternative music and genres such as chill-out, folk, modern rock, pop rock, and post-Britpop. Hipsters also frequently flaunt a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility, wearing vintage and thrift store-bought clothing; hold pacifist and green views; are generally vegan; consume organic and artisanal foods, and craft alcoholic beverages; and live alternative lifestyles. The subculture typically consists of mostly white young adults living in urban areas. It has been described as a "mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior".



PPP first entered prominence through its performance in the 2008 Democratic primaries between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The company performed well, producing accurate predictions in states ranging from South Carolina to Wisconsin, many of which featured inaccurate results by other pollsters. [11] [ non-primary source needed ] [12] After the November election, PPP was ranked by the Wall Street Journal as one of the two most accurate firms, among those who were most active in the presidential swing states. [2]

Hillary Clinton American politician, senator, Secretary of State, First Lady

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is an American politician, diplomat, lawyer, writer, and public speaker. She served as the First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001, U.S. Senator from New York from 2001 to 2009, 67th United States Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, and as the Democratic Party's nominee for President of the United States in the 2016 election, the first woman nominated by a major party.


PPP was the first pollster to find Scott Brown with a lead over Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts Senate special election; Brown ultimately won in a major comeback, and PPP's final poll in that race predicted Brown's winning margin exactly. [13]

Scott Brown (politician) 27th United States Senator from Massachusetts (Class 1)

Scott Philip Brown is an American attorney, diplomat, and Republican politician serving as the United States Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. A former United States Senator for Massachusetts (2010–2013), he also was the 2014 Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire.

Martha Coakley American lawyer, politician

Martha Mary Coakley is an American lawyer and former Attorney General of Massachusetts. Prior to serving as Attorney General, she was District Attorney of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, from 1999 to 2007.


PPP was praised[ by whom? ] for its accuracy in polling primaries and special elections, which are notoriously hard to predict. The contests they accurately predicted include the West Virginia gubernatorial primaries, special elections in New York and California, [14] [15] as well as all eight Wisconsin recall elections.

A primary election is the process by which voters, either the general public or members of a political party, can indicate their preference for a candidate in an upcoming general election or by-election, thus narrowing the field of candidates.

By-elections, also spelled bye-elections, are used to fill elected offices that have become vacant between general elections.


A study by Fordham University found that, of 28 firms studied, PPP had the most accurate poll on the presidential national popular vote, both its independently conducted poll and the one it does in collaboration with the Daily Kos and the SEIU. [16] [17] PPP correctly called the winner of the presidential election in all 19 states it polled in the final week of the election, as well as the winners of all the U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races it surveyed. [18] [19] [20] [21] [22]

Fordham University American university

Fordham University is a private Jesuit research university in New York City. Founded by the Catholic Diocese of New York in 1841, it is the oldest Catholic university in the northeastern United States, the third-oldest university in New York, and the only Jesuit university in New York City.

Daily Kos Political blog focused on the Democratic Party and liberal American politics

Daily Kos is a group blog and internet forum focused on the Democratic Party and liberal American politics. The site features a participatory political encyclopedia ("DKosopedia"), glossaries, and other content. It is sometimes considered an example of "netroots" activism.


Political research firm YouGov found PPP’s gubernatorial polls to have the lowest average margin of error among national firms that polled in at least five gubernatorial races in the month preceding the election. [23]


In the 2016 Presidential Election, PPP's final polls widely missed the mark in several key swing states, including New Hampshire, [24] North Carolina, [25] Pennsylvania, [26] and Wisconsin. [27] Their polls also significantly underestimated President Trump's lead in Ohio, [28] and incorrectly predicted Hillary Clinton to win Florida. [29]


The company's surveys use Interactive Voice Response (IVR), an automated questionnaire used by other polling firms such as SurveyUSA and Rasmussen Reports. [30] The journalist Nate Cohn has criticized the company's methodology as being "unscientific". [31]

In 2013 columnist Nate Cohn described PPP as a liberal pollster, [32] although according to statistician Nate Silver, PPP had a tendency to slightly lean Republican as of September 2016. [33] As of February 11th, 2017 Silver's website, FiveThirtyEight, gives PPP a B+ grade in its pollster ranking. [33]

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Opinion poll type of survey

An opinion poll, often simply referred to as a poll or a survey, is a human research survey of public opinion from a particular sample. Opinion polls are usually designed to represent the opinions of a population by conducting a series of questions and then extrapolating generalities in ratio or within confidence intervals.

An election exit poll is a poll of voters taken immediately after they have exited the polling stations. Unlike an opinion poll, which asks for whom the voter plans to vote, or some similar formulation, an exit poll asks for whom the voter actually voted. A similar poll conducted before actual voters have voted is called an entrance poll. Pollsters – usually private companies working for newspapers or broadcasters – conduct exit polls to gain an early indication as to how an election has turned out, as in many elections the actual result may take hours or even days to count.

Scott Rasmussen American businessman

Scott William Rasmussen is an American political analyst and digital media entrepreneur. Rasmussen is the publisher of, a public opinion website that debuted in 2018 with research firm HarrisX and produces the Daily Tracking Poll. He also serves as Editor-at-Large for Ballotpedia, where he writes the Number of the Day Feature.

Gallup, Inc. is an American analytics and advisory company based in Washington, D.C. Founded by George Gallup in 1935, the company became known for its public opinion polls conducted worldwide. Starting in the 1980s, Gallup transitioned its business to focus on providing analytics and management consulting to organizations globally. In addition to its analytics, management consulting, and Gallup Poll, the company also offers educational consulting, the CliftonStrengths assessment and associated products, and business and management books published by its Gallup Press unit.

Rasmussen Reports is an American polling company, founded in 2003. The company engages in the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion polling information. Rasmussen Reports conducts nightly tracking, at national and state levels, of elections, politics, current events, consumer confidence, business topics, and the United States president's job approval ratings.

Nate Silver American statistician and writer

Nathaniel Read Silver is an American statistician and writer who analyzes baseball and elections. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight and a Special Correspondent for ABC News.

Bradley effect theory about discrepancies between opinion polls and election results in the United States

The Bradley effect is a theory concerning observed discrepancies between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in some United States government elections where a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other. The theory proposes that some voters who intend to vote for the white candidate would nonetheless tell pollsters that they are undecided or likely to vote for the non-white candidate. It was named after Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, an African-American who lost the 1982 California governor's race despite being ahead in voter polls going into the elections.

FiveThirtyEight, sometimes rendered as 538, is a website that focuses on opinion poll analysis, politics, economics and sports blogging. The website, which takes its name from the number of electors in the United States electoral college, was founded on March 7, 2008 as a polling aggregation website with a blog created by analyst Nate Silver. In August 2010, the blog became a licensed feature of The New York Times online. It was renamed FiveThirtyEight: Nate Silver's Political Calculus. In July 2013, ESPN announced that it would become the owner of the FiveThirtyEight brand and site and Silver was appointed as editor-in-chief. The ESPN-owned FiveThirtyEight began publication on March 17, 2014. The site was acquired by ABC News on April 17, 2018. In the ESPN/ABC News era, the FiveThirtyEight blog has covered a broad spectrum of subjects including politics, sports, science, economics and popular culture.

The Quinnipiac University Poll is a public opinion polling center based at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. It surveys public opinion in Connecticut, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and nationally.

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  1. Jensen, Tom (November 5, 2008). "PPP's 'Bias'". Public Policy Polling. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  2. 1 2 Sarlin, Benjy (August 22, 2011). "How PPP Became The 'It' Democratic Pollster". Talking Points Memo . Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  3. Pathé, Simone (March 23, 2016). "Not Your Average Pollster: He Says Phones Are Out and Trump Is Credible". Roll Call . Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  4. Kraushaar, Josh (June 23, 2009). "Sen. launches attack -- on polling firm". Politico . Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  5. "About Us", Public Policy Polling, 2012. Retrieved on 6 December 2012.
  6. "Public Policy Poll: God Commands 52% Approval". July 24, 2011. Retrieved October 21, 2011.
  7. Rosenbaum, Ron (July 19, 2011). "Only 19 Percent of Republicans Think Obama Would Be Raptured". Slate. Retrieved October 21, 2011.
  8. "Hipster Tax For Being 'So Annoying' Backed By 27 Percent Of Americans: Poll". The Huffington Post. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
  9. Stuart, Tessa (26 February 2016). "Is Ted Cruz the Zodiac Killer? Maybe, Say 38 Percent of Florida Voters". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  10. "Trump Leads Rubio in Florida- Even Head to Head" (PDF). Public Policy Polling. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  11. "PPP: most accurate numbers in the country for South Carolina". Public Policy Polling. January 26, 2008. Retrieved October 21, 2011.
  13. Taylor, Jessica (January 9, 2010). "Poll: Scott Brown ahead of Martha Coakley by 1 point". Politico. Retrieved October 21, 2011.
  14. Catanese, David (July 14, 2011). "The polling is right: Why PPP deserves props". Politico. Retrieved October 21, 2011.
  15. Isenstadt, Alex. "NY-26: The winners and losers". Politico. Retrieved October 21, 2011.
  16. Leighton, Kyle (7 November 2012). "Fordham Study: Public Policy Polling Deemed Most Accurate National Pollster In 2012". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  17. Easley, Jonathan (7 November 2012). "Study finds PPP was the most accurate pollster in 2012". The Hill. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
  18. Mahtesian, Charles (7 November 2012). "PPP nailed it". Politico. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  19. Bialik, Carl (7 November 2012). "How did pollsters fare on election night?". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  20. Lauter, David (8 November 2012). "Which pollsters did best: Non-traditional methods were standouts". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  21. Enten, Harry (7 November 2012). "How the pollsters won the 2012 US election, mostly". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  22. LoGiurato, Brett (12 November 2012). "How a three-man polling team completely nailed their election prediction". Business Insider. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  23. "YouGov | YouGov poll performance in the 2014 Governor elections". YouGov: What the world thinks. Retrieved 2015-07-16.
  28. PublicPolicyPolling [@ppppolls] (7 November 2016). "Post Labor Day we haven't done a single Ohio poll that had either candidate up by more than 1" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  29. PublicPolicyPolling [@ppppolls] (7 November 2016). "Think Hillary will win both but more confident about Florida" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  30. Bialik, Carl (November 6, 2008). "Polls Foresaw Future, Which Looks Tough for Polling". The Wall Street Journal . pp. A16. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  31. Cohn, Nate (2013-09-12). "There's Something Wrong With America's Premier Liberal Pollster". New Republic. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  33. 1 2 Silver, Nate (2016-06-02). "FiveThirtyEight's Pollster Ratings" . Retrieved 2016-07-19.