Gauging the Opinions of Texans

UT Tyler Makes Major Headlines for Statewide Polling on Trending Topics

Publication Date: 10/30/2019

Where do Texans stand on issues facing the state and nation? Which presidential candidates are gaining momentum among the state's registered voters?

Professors and students in The University of Texas at Tyler Center for Opinion Research are gauging the views of Texans through statewide polling on diverse topics from politics to social reform to taxes – and they're making national and international headlines for their findings.

Soon after opening in fall 2018 in the College of Arts and Sciences, the full-scale polling center conducted one of the nation’s most accurate polls in a high-profile Texas U.S. Senate race. And this fall, major news networks cited the center for its poll showing Texas voters favored a particular presidential candidate.

“When we come together as a team to do research, we're nonpartisan,” said Dr. Kenneth Wink, College of Arts and Sciences associate dean and professor of public administration. “We're working to find out what people honestly think and simply report the results; but, obviously, some of the results bear political implications and that's why we're being cited on Fox News, MSNBC, in the New York Times and in places as far away as Iran and China.”

Wink co-founded the center with UT Tyler political science professors Dr. Mark Owens and Dr. Kenneth Bryant Jr. to add real-world applications to coursework and engage students in research, while also serving the public with local and statewide surveys. In addition to political and general opinion polling, the center is equipped to conduct surveys and focus groups for organizations and businesses.

More than 100 students from public administration, political science, criminal justice and social science classes take part in the center.

“In all of our classes, the data we share with the public is actually the frame that students use to write papers,” Owens said. “In our next survey, for example, criminal justice students will poll and analyze public opinion about law enforcement as part of their coursework.”

Center participant Grant Paul is a senior in the political science department's 4+1 Program, which will enable him to finish his master's degree one year after completing his bachelor's. He plans to attend medical school to become a physician and make contributions in the field of public health policy.

“My involvement with these polls has given me valuable experience in communicating with and learning about the experiences of a diverse array of Texas voters, as well as seeing firsthand the processes of research design and data collection,” he said. “I fully expect to see the center grow into one of the foremost polling institutions in the country.”

Learn more about the Center for Opinion Research.

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