There is new leadership at the helm of UConn’s Roper Center for Public Opinion Research - the leading educational facility in the field of public opinion. Paul Herrnson takes over this week as Executive Director of the Roper Center, and joins the faculty as a Professor of Political Science. The Roper Center, which was founded in 1947, promotes the intelligent, responsible and imaginative use of public opinion in addressing the problems faced by Americans and citizens of other nations. Dr. Herrnson comes to UConn from the University of Maryland, where he was a Professor in the Department of Government and Politics and recipient of outstanding teaching awards from the University and the American Political Science Association. He was also the Founding Director of the Center for American Politics and Government at the University of Maryland.
The Roper Center is an archive—it preserves the data from polls conducted by many leading survey organizations for the use of researchers, students, and journalists. Its collection now includes 18,000 datasets and continues to grow by hundreds of datasets per year. In total, it includes responses from millions of individuals on a vast range of topics.
Since its beginning, the Roper Center has focused on surveys conducted by the news media and commercial polling firms. However, it also holds many academic surveys, including important historical collections from the National Opinion Research Corporation and Princeton University's Office of Public Opinion Research.
Today, the Roper Center Facebook page includes current polling data from around the world, including questions culled from recent surveys on breaking news and topical events.
Herrnson is a well-published scholar whose research papers have appeared in the leading journals. His recent books include: Interest Groups Unleashed (2012), and the 6th edition of his widely used text, Congressional Elections (2011). According to the University of Maryland web site, Herrndon’s “dedication to civic responsibility and the political process fuels a number of activities on local and national levels.” He has provided expert testimony to the Maryland legislature, U.S. Congress and federal courts in the areas of voting technology, ballot access and campaign finance.
When the Center was launched, Elmo Roper and others in the emerging field of survey research recognized that the information they were gathering should be preserved for future generations of scholars, students, and journalists. Since that time, the Roper Center has continued to acquire and archive public opinion data.
Since its founding, the Center has maintained two key objectives: (1) to preserve the voice of the public in the form of public opinion polling data and maintain these data in the most current formats possible, and (2) to re-disseminate the data in detailed and complete form via intuitive access tools.
Most of the surveys in the Roper Center are national samples, but there are also some state and local surveys, as well as a number of surveys of special populations of interest. Nearly all of the surveys are based on representative samples drawn according to the best practices of the time. The Roper Center now focuses on data from the United States, but continues to acquire some surveys from other parts of the world, particularly Latin America.
The Roper Center contributes to education at the University of Connecticut. Although the Roper Center does not offer any degree programs, it works with a wide range of programs-including the departments of Political Science, Sociology, and Statistics—in giving employment and research opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students.