Survey Center’s polls key
Leading to election, work remains steady
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
In the middle of the presidential election campaign, the UNH Survey Center has been busy conducting political polls. During a phone interview, director Andrew Smith said that “the survey center does political polling, but it is not the major focus.”
The Survey Center also conducts information based on faculty and government research. Smith said that the Survey Center is collecting polls for WMUR and is polling in Massachusetts for The Boston Globe.
With the upcoming election, it would seem that the Center would need to build a larger staff. However, Smith claims that the Survey Center has not had to hire more people than usual, but that it is constantly hiring because there are typically 50 to 65 interviewers at any given time.
Martha Belanger, the field director for the Center, said that the workload does not seem heavier than normal, but that the Survey Center is holding off on adding other clients right now.
The clients determine what subjects the Survey Center polls for, not the person being surveyed. For instance, The Boston Globe issues surveys based on current issues in Massachusetts at the time. Clients of the Survey Center include The Boston Globe, Channel 9, and recently, the University of Connecticut.
Elise Deyett, a new surveyor, said she conducts “one general survey for a particular season and place. The Boston Globe will make a survey, send it to the Survey Center and then the Survey Center calls specific towns in Massachusetts.”
The Survey Center also conducts its own survey. On the Survey Center’s webpage, it says that the Granite State Poll is “a quarterly survey of public opinion in the state of New Hampshire.”
A typical day at the Survey Center differs from person-to-person. Belanger has been with the survey center for 24 years. A typical day for her involves hiring, paperwork, payroll, programming, ordering sample surveys, training and many other behind-the-scenes tasks.
The hours in an average day for the Survey Center are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. If it needs to conduct national surveys — like it does for UConn — the hours extend to midnight to account for the different time zones that stretch across the United States.
For an employed survey conductor, the day has a different layout. Deyett says that the goal is to make 40 calls an hour, but that she has gotten up to 55. An average survey will last for about five to 10 minutes, but Deyett has had one call last 40 minutes.
According to Belanger, the number of people that consent to a survey is about one per hour. With all of the surveyors on staff, the numbers can climb.
While the Survey Center has 12-hour days and conducts 40 calls an hour for each employee, employees say the working conditions are very good. Deyett said that the Survey Center “treats employees pretty well, and I only have to work a minimum of 12 hours a week. It’s pretty easy.”
Deyett takes it lightly, but Smith knows how valuable his interviewers are.
“I’m very proud of the interviewers. They work hard. The work can be stressful, and especially under time constraints, they do a really good job,” he said.