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We Should Hang Out More

Movies often serve as perfect time capsules, offering snapshots of what life was like in an earlier time. Take Dazed and Confused. The movie is set in late seventies Texas and focuses on groups of ... Read Now >


State Polls

The polling community is one that crisscrosses the country.  If there are any additional polls you’ve heard of, please, let us know!

Elon University

The Field Poll

Monmouth University

Public Mind

Public Policy Polling

Quinnipiac University Poll

Suffolk University Poll

Siena College Poll

The Marist Institute for Public Opinion

The Marist Institute for Public Opinion (MIPO) is a survey research center at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Founded in 1978, MIPO is home to the Marist Poll and regularly measures public opinion at the local, state, and national level. The Marist Poll is highly respected and is often cited by journalists and analysts around the globe.

Marist isn’t your grandfather’s polling institute. Surveys run the gamut. Topics include politics, money, family, spirituality, mind and body, sports, entertainment, and much more!

The Marist Poll is unique. It was the first college-based survey center in the nation to involve undergraduates in conducting survey research. It’s been over 30 years and still counting. Students participate in each and every survey conducted. Their experiences allow them to weave political science, computing, communications, marketing, and psychology into an interdisciplinary learning experience. Student employment, internships, conferences, and seminars with leading journalists, pollsters and government officials can all be found at MIPO!

The Hancock building at Marist College

What Is Marist College?


Marist is an independent comprehensive liberal arts college with an enrollment of 4,300 full-time undergraduate students from 39 states and 7 countries. Founded in 1929, Marist offers 32 major fields of undergraduate study and 10 graduate degree programs.

Marist is included in the Princeton Review’s guide to the top colleges and universities in the U.S., The Best 368 Colleges, placing Marist in the top 15 percent of all institutions of higher education in the United States. Marist is ranked among the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges guide, is listed by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance as one of the country’s “100 Best Buys in College Education,” and is also listed in Barron’s Best Buys in College Education.

For more information about Marist College, go to

An Unlikely Pollster Turned Most Valuable Pollster

baker_mary_290Polling was probably the last thing on Mary Baker’s mind when she transferred to Marist College her Sophomore year.  In fact, her interest in the The Marist Poll grew out of necessity.  She needed an on-campus job.  But, it was only a matter of time before Baker became hooked.

“Speaking with a lot of the respondents made me feel I was a part of the polling process.  I felt a stronger connection…to politics in general,” says Baker.

However, the 21-year old Senior wasn’t satisfied with being an interviewer.  She felt she could do more for The Marist Poll and pursued and received a promotion her Junior year.

“I had polled so many times prior to that I already felt I was a big part of the organization, and I felt I was knowledgeable enough to monitor other students,” she recalls.

Baker’s dedication doesn’t dwindle at the phone room door.  A public relations major with a passion for travel and culture, Baker has acted as a student spokesperson for the poll, appearing on RNN, Cablevision’s “Meet the Leaders,” and WCBS Newsradio 880.

“Mary epitomizes what we look for in a student,” says Marist Poll Director Barbara Carvalho, “She’s bright, dedicated, eager to learn, and always goes the extra mile.”

The benefits, however, flow both ways.  Baker is the first to tell you that her time at The Marist Poll has provided her with invaluable experience that she is confident will take her far in her professional endeavors.

“Working with the Marist Poll, you have to be professional as an interviewer.” Baker goes on to say, “It’s also important to have a good sense of humor and to have the type of personality where you can handle rejection.  I think that’s something you find in the work force every day.”

The Marist Poll does present its own set of unique challenges and surprises.  Baker notes she is often amused by the time people go to bed!  She’s found some respondents often say they are asleep as early as seven o’clock while others are willing to schedule an interview after 10 P.M.  And, of course, there are those who aren’t initially happy to be called at all.

Baker takes it all in stride.  “After awhile, you come up with tactics to keep them on the phone.  If that doesn’t work, you find a way to handle it and move on to the next interview.”

So, what’s next for this Marist Poll MVP?  After graduation, Baker will cross the Atlantic and spend her summer in Galway, Ireland, where she will be working.  Then, it’s back to the states in August when she’ll begin her job search  in New York City.

But, no matter how far Mary Baker travels, one thing is for sure.  She’ll always have fond memories of her time at The Marist Poll.

“To be completely honest,” Baker shares, “I think I will remember most the [MIPO] employees that I worked with and the friendships I formed.”

Watch Mary Baker on Cablevision’s “Meet the Leaders,” Hosted by Terence Michos:

An Educational Laboratory

Marist Poll results may generate worldwide attention, but at its core, it has always been a unique educational program providing Marist College undergraduates an opportunity to develop their skills and understanding of public opinion. By participating in survey research, students learn in an interdisciplinary fashion about politics, communication, psychology, history, marketing, and technology.

Beyond data collection, students take coursework, participate in seminars with outside experts, and pursue internships. In this way, students can look under the hood to gain an advanced understanding of the critical factors shaping public opinion today:

  • Survey methodology… sampling, questionnaire construction, data analysis, and report writing
  • Survey content… the range of contemporary issues that public opinion enlightens from politics and elections to health care, economics, and living in turbulent times.

Coursework at the Marist Institute for Public Opinion focuses on public opinion, survey research, and political communication. There is also a series of one-credit experiences that each deal with a single key aspect of the survey research process… interviewing, the survey instrument, modes of data collection and analysis, and the media. For students interested in pursuing their understanding of survey research in greater depth there’s also a concentration in public opinion. Students who opt to make this rigorous course selection part of their undergraduate program often pursue careers in the field including political consulting, market research, public polling, or academia.

Internships in the media or at survey research facilities, for students in their Junior or Senior year, is a value-added experience. These experiences enhance student awareness of the field, the value choices professionals need to address, and help students clarify career choices.

Students also participate in regular seminars with experts from the world of politics, polling, and the press. Through it all, students emerge with an understanding of what is in essence a contemporary definition of what a liberal arts education is all about… a blend of knowledge, experience, and technology.

Marist polls are newsworthy but Marist College students, first and foremost, enjoy a front row seat in the arena of public opinion. That’s our commitment today just as it was in 1978 when the Marist Poll began as a classroom project.

Speaker’s Forum

There’s always something going on at The Marist Poll, and we’re not just talking about our surveys!

Every semester, a select group of political and media professionals is invited to conduct seminars at the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. It’s all part of our mission to offer our students and other members of the Marist community different perspectives on polling, politics, and the press.

Recent speakers have included:

  • Joel Benenson, Chief Pollster and a Senior Strategist for President Barack Obama and Founding Partner and President of Benenson Strategy Group
  • Ron Brownstein, Editorial Director for the National Journal and Senior Political Analyst for CNN’s election team
  • Jay DeDapper, Political Blogger and Host, Buzz60 Politics
  • Beth Harpaz, Author and Associated Press Editor
  • Joe Lenski, Co-founder and Executive Vice President, Edison Research
  • Steve Thomma, Government and Politics Editor, McClatchy News Service

Stay tuned.  We’ll be updating our list of upcoming speakers as their appearance dates are confirmed.

Our previous guest speakers have included:

  • Robert Bellafiore, Founder, Stanhope Partners
  • Bill Cunningham, Managing Director, Dan Klores Communications
  • Murray Edelman, Former Editorial Director, Voter News Service and Former President of The American Association of Public Opinion Research
  • Howard Fineman, Editorial Director, the Huffington Post Media Group, NBC News Analyst, and author
  • Dan Forman, Managing Editor, WCBS/Ch. 2
  • Steven Greenberg, President, Steven Greenberg Public Relations
  • Jay Townsend, Political Consultant, The Townsend Group

Blue Jeans: A Reflection of the Times

The Guinness Book of Records lists an original pair of Levi Strauss & Co (USA) 501 jeans aged over 115 years old as most valuable.  It was sold by Randy Knight (USA) to an anonymous collector (Japan) for $60,000 (£33,230) through internet auction site eBay on June 15, 2005.



What accounts for consumers’ willingness to shell out their hard-earned cash for this fashion staple?  Perhaps, the answer lies in the past.

Although, nineteenth century businessman Levi Strauss is credited with designing the first pair of blue jeans, the origin of the term, “denim” remains cloaked in mystery.

As Levi Strauss and Co. historian Lynn Downey points out on the company’s website, there are a couple of theories about the origin of the word.  Downey notes that the material could be related to a fabric, partly made of wool, called “serge de Nimes,” which existed in France prior to the 17th century and was also found in England at the end of the 17th century.  Downey concedes that we may never know how a material made of silk and wool could  become associated with denim — a fabric made of cotton.  However, she speculates that it may have something to do with the fabric’s weave.

In addition to “serge de Nimes,” there was a material called, “jean.”  Jean, which was imported from Genoa, Italy into England in the 16th century was made, at least partly, of cotton and was known for its durability.  Jean and denim were quite similar.  However, they differed in the color thread used to produce them.

Fast forward to 19th century America.  Denim and jean had different connotations associated with them.  Jean was used for finer work clothes while denim was the fabric of men doing manual labor.

Enter Levi Strauss.  The Bavarian-born Strauss set up a dry goods business in San Francisco in 1853.  Nineteen years later, a tailor by the name of Jacob Davis, who had been making riveted clothing for miners around Reno, approached Strauss with a business proposition.  He needed a partner to patent and manufacture a new type of work clothes, and out of that partnership was born copper riveted “waist overalls” or what would later become known as jeans.

Blue jeans have evolved with our changing culture.  According to, a fashion design website, cowboys depicted wearing jeans in the movies became popular in the 1930s.   In the 1940s, soldiers fighting in World War II introduced jeans to the rest of the world.  And, Downey,  says the end of the war heralded another major change for this article of clothing.  Jeans broke from their association with work clothes and were considered to be more recreational attire.  Levi Strauss’ creation also took on another meaning by some during this time.  In the 1950s, jeans were viewed almost as ‘bad boy’ clothes  and were even banned in some schools.

Their anti-conformity reputation continued into the 1960s and 1970s.  The style evolved to include bell-bottoms, and anti-establishment activists saw jeans as a sign of protest.  The following decade signaled another metamorphosis.  Major fashion designers were jumping on-board the jean craze in the 1980s.  According to clothing brand, R.A.G. New York, everyone, including celebrities, wore designer jeans which, at that time, were affordable.  However, at the turn of the millennium, designer jeans became a status symbol, and the prices went up.

So, what’s next?  If the past is any indication, jeans will ride the wave with the changing times.  In fact, a recent blog on “The Wall Street Journal” website shows venture capitalists are turning to the blue jean industry during the recession.  It’s part of a move toward small, high-end consumer goods. But, one thing seems clear, no matter what shape jeans take, it will likely be a long time before blue jeans disappear from the market place.

Business Ethics in a Time of Crisis

The tumult of the American economy has reverberated in homes, workplaces, and boardrooms and has left few untouched. Business Ethics in a Time of Economic Crisis surveys Americans and top level business executives to understand their opinions and reactions to the events which have shaken Corporate America.

Undertaken by the Knights of Columbus in partnership with the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, the study looks beyond the headlines. This report presents the findings from two quantitative surveys: one which spoke with 2,071 Americans, and a second which interviewed 110 high-level business leaders.

The Perfect Fit

Finding a pair of jeans that fits just right can be a challenge!  What can you do to make the process a little easier?  Here’s some practical advice from the Marist Poll’s Mary Azzoli.

Contributor’s Corner: Beyond the Numbers

By John Sparks

Knights of Columbus CEO, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, discusses the findings of “Business Ethics in a Time of Economic Crisis,” a survey conducted in partnership with the Marist Institute for Public Opinion to determine the public’s level of confidence and trust in business and leadership.

Carl Anderson

Carl Anderson

2,072 Americans and a group of 110 high-level business leaders were questioned about ethics and business credibility.

Here’s the transcript of Anderson’s interview with The Marist Poll’s John Sparks about the survey’s findings.

Carl, I was wondering first of all, why did the Knights of Columbus commission a poll on Business Ethics?

Well, of course, one of the reasons that the Knights of Columbus was founded in 1882 was to provide a financial assistance to the widows and orphans of members, and out of that grew an insurance company.  So we’re very much a part of corporate America from that standpoint.  Over the last number of years, we’ve been very concerned about ethics and morality in public life and in American society and culture, so we thought this was one of the ways that we might be able to add value to the discussion of what’s going on in the American economy over the last four or five months.

Have you sustained substantial losses since we’ve hit the recession that we’ve been experiencing the past few months?

Well, I would say everybody in business has had some losses. Ours, although we’ve had some, have been much more modest than many other companies because we have a very conservative investment philosophy and a very conservative investment policy.  So, for example, we did not invest at all in any subprime mortgages that did such damage to many other companies, and of course we only invest in investment grade bonds, so we don’t do anything in the junk bond market or we don’t do anything in hedge funds, thinks like that.  So everybody’s taken on some water here, but ours has been modest by some other standards, and frankly in terms of the way the industry looks at surplus ratios, we’re actually stronger now vis-à-vis the industry than we were a year ago.

What did you expect to find out when you commissioned the poll on Business Ethics?

It’s hard to say that we had any preconceived notions. What we really wanted to take a look at was how Americans felt about the general idea of business ethics, whether they thought corporate America was measuring up to their expectations, and then we wanted to see carefully what corporate executives actually thought and where there was a parallel and maybe where there was some divergence.

Were you surprised by any of the results or any of the particular answers that you got back?

Well, I think one of the surprising things was how in alignment many corporate executives were with what we would call the general American public, or there was a kind of consensus between corporate executives and the American public about what they expect out of business, which is to say, that most of us, whether we’re corporate executives or not, think that a person’s ethics should not be left behind when they walk into the job, and therefore that there should not be one set of business ethics and then a different set of personal ethics. People expect there to be convergence there.  We saw that to be the same, American public in general, corporate executives.  We also thought that it would be interesting to know whether there was a difference between, once again, corporate America and the American public in terms of whether ethics made sense in terms of looking at a corporations’ long-term success or even short-term success, and here we found again both the public and corporate executives felt that there was not a contradiction between ethical business practices and successful business practices, and even corporate executives believe that high ethical standards actually contributed to the long-term success of a corporation.  What we found strong on the part of the American public, which maybe was a little bit surprising, was that they felt that a personal gain, career advancement was perhaps some of the most important indicators in corporate decision making rather than the public good or even the success of the corporation; and while the business executives diverge from that, still there was a significant number of corporate executives that found that to be the case as well.

Carl, there’s been a lot of things that have come into play during the last few months because of the recession we’re experiencing, and there’s no one critical factor I don’t suppose, but we read about the Madoffs of the world.  Did you find or do you believe that there’s a need for new corporate leadership that’s ethically based?

I think that was one of the strongest results, one of the strongest findings from the poll, really. As we move forward, and we’re going to get through this crisis, at the other end, the question is:  What kind of leadership will have brought us through this, and what kind of leadership do we expect at the other end of it?  And the survey found, I think, very strong evidence among the American people that they expect a new kind of corporate leadership that is strongly committed to ethical values and ethics in their business practices.  And so if there’s one message to take away to corporate America, I think it is that what a courageous corporate executive or CEO must do in terms of ethical leadership both for himself driving it down through his corporation and then within, could we say, the industry of the corporate community not being reticent to articulate strong standards.

What kind of traits are we looking for in major corporate leadership?  What kind of traits do you think our leaders need to possess?  Do you think this would’ve made a difference in our current recession had we had more people of that caliber?

I think it would have made a great difference because one of the issues here is the confidence of the public, and it’s not simply confidence in the question of the free market system, but it’s got to be confidence in the people who are making the decisions within a free market system.  After all, that’s what the free market system is about:  decision making.  And even if you go back to Adam Smith, the hidden hand, that was a moral hand in many ways according to Adam Smith, and so for this system to work well, people have to have confidence in the moral values of the people at the top and the people making the decisive decisions along the line.  So it’s very important in restoring confidence.

Carl, what do you think it’ll take to change that culture and mentality in the business world that currently says to many people, “Get yours while you can and leave the mess for somebody else to clean up”?

Well, I think there’s a responsibility on the part of both corporate executives and consumers and investors that they insist that it not be business as usual, that there be higher standards, and I think you can point to many leaders in corporate America in terms of executive decision making.  Peter Drucker is a perfect example of this.  I mean Drucker was very strong in speaking out saying he didn’t believe there was such a thing as business ethics; he believed there was only personal ethics and that a person’s ethics had to carry forward into his business decision making and it had to be – – had to be strongly committed to that, and I think you can replicate that many times. Those individuals have to stand up, and they have to speak out more, and they have to insist that they do business with individuals who have the same type of commitment.  And investors have to be cognizant of it and also to demand those kind of high standards.

Now the survey reported that two-thirds of Americans believe that our corporate leaders should rely on their religious beliefs and values to guide them in their business.  And yet there are many folks that’ll tell you that religion no longer plays a role it once did in the lives of Americans and they’ll cite dwindling church and synagogue attendance, and that might seem to present a problem. Do you have any idea what role that religion and personal faith presently play in the lives of our country’s financial and corporate leaders?

Well certainly there are many corporate leaders who are deeply religious, and I think the one important value that religion brings to this discussion is the age old question of how one treats one neighbor and the recognition that we are a country of neighbors.  And therefore, we’re not dealing only with an abstraction of a consumer or an investor, but we’re dealing with a live person whose welfare is going to be affected by our decisions.  And I think that recognition that we all have a responsibility to each other, and that comes out of the Christian tradition, the Jewish tradition, the Islamic tradition, that’s a very important value and we should not be reticent in articulating it, and it’s one of the most important things religion brings to our culture in general, but certainly to any successful business culture.

Carl, can Christians change the tone and direction of our culture do you believe?

I think it is one of the fundamental responsibilities of a person of faith to bring those values into the public sector, not in a confrontational way, but certainly from a Christian perspective one would do that as a matter of personal witness, and that witness has to be something that is, like I say, personal, but personal in two senses:  one that is authentic with the individual who’s professing it, and secondly, that it affects other person’s in an authentic, real way that makes a difference in their life.  And so this is how religions have historically influenced the culture, and I think we would be much poorer if those values from our Judeo-Christian heritage are diminished in society because, let’s say, if we look back even at recent history, more humane, a greater commitment to the common good, a greater commitment to those less fortunate, a greater commitment to those who are suffering or who have particular kinds of hardship in their lives, these are all responses that come out of a Christian-Judeo heritage, and I think we have to do a lot to try to preserve that because everyone benefits regardless of their religious faith or their lack of faith.

Carl, for those people that say the bottom line is the bottom line, is there a payoff or competitive advantage for companies whose leaders conduct their business ethically and with the highest standards in values that you’re calling for?

Well, I would say it’s not just my view, but take a look at Jim Collins and Jerry Porras’ book, Built to Last, which I don’t know how man most successful American corporations over time are ones who are committed to a value beyond and above profit.  Profit is always important.  You’ve got to have profit if you’re going to survive. But the great companies, companies listed in Built to Last, for example, like Johnson & Johnson or Marriott are two examples, or Boeing, are companies that have historically placed a value beyond profit. People recognize that, and they respect it, and it’s what they found to be a key to long-term success.  So yes, I would say that’s a very much part of it as is strong ethical stand because that is what is going to build affinity in terms of both investors and in customers and in loyalty to the company among employees.

Carl, I’ve got pretty much what I looking for. Is there anything that we haven’t talked about in the realm of business ethics that you’d like to add or say that we haven’t talked about?

No, I think that’s very good.  If you’re happy, I’m happy with it.

I’m very happy.  I thank you for your time.

Join the Team!

Are you interested in becoming a member of MIPO’s incredibly talented team of student interviewers? Positions are available. All applicants must be registered Marist College students and must be available to work evenings. Students are paid $8.00 an hour to start and work approximately four to six hours per week. Don’t worry about experience! We provide the training, and college work study is not required. The Marist Poll is located in the Hancock Center.

For more information, contact Daniela Charter at extension 3663 or email Daniela through our contact page.  Students interested in working at MIPO should contact Daniela before the semester begins.