Law faculty member Dr. Charles Franklin focused the nation’s political eyes and ears on the Marquette Law School Poll. Marquette and Franklin launched the Law School Poll in 2012 and earned national respect by correctly forecasting the outcome of high-profile political races in Wisconsin. Franklin continues to examine Wisconsin voters’ attitudes toward politics — and beyond.
How rewarding is it to see the Law School Poll evolve?
The polling allowed us to play a role in that public sphere of conversation about politics and elections. That’s often a very divisive and very argumentative and sometimes ugly affair. But to be able to see what the public is thinking about things, how we’re united and where we’re divided, is one of the most important things we can do.
Under Dr. Charles Franklin’s direction, the Marquette Law School Poll became the largest independent polling project in state history.
Find the latest polling results at law.marquette.edu/poll.
What have you enjoyed most about the work?
The Law School’s public policy initiatives play a vital role, I think, in the civic life of the city, the region and the state. And that is probably the single most rewarding thing. It’s also rewarding to meet alumni and friends of the university who are interested in civic affairs and who often, even with their personal political preferences, are nevertheless very interested in what the evidence shows on public opinion.
What else has the poll revealed about the people of Wisconsin?
Citizen involvement — how much people talk to their friends and neighbors and co-workers about politics and public affairs. Wisconsin’s a pretty high participatory state that way. But other things we’ve asked about include economics and whether your area of the state is a good place to start a life. If you’re giving advice to a 20-something, would you say that they should start a business here? Or start a life here? Many parts of the state have a certain pride in their home territory, but we also face competition from Chicago and the Twin Cities in particular. So it’s also interesting to see what our challenges are.
“Big data” is a big deal right now. What job opportunities are there for students interested in data science?
The job opportunities are tremendous. And what might be less obvious is that the job opportunities within the world of politics and public affairs are also tremendous. Both parties have ramped up their research and employment opportunities in this field. And it’s also a field in which it’s possible to move rapidly from the junior person in one election year and then four years later find yourself a more senior person in perhaps a statewide or national campaign. So there’s a lot of opportunity for the person who lives and breathes politics but is also interested in a more analytic and quantitative approach to it. • CJ