MADISON (WKOW) -- From UW Madison: Results of the Big Ten Battleground Poll, an innovative new project that tests voter sentiment in the eight Big Ten states that are key to this closely fought presidential campaign, will be presented Thursday, Sept. 18, on the Big Ten Network.
The results of this rare regional poll - a partnership involving eight Big Ten universities - will be unveiled in a 90-minute show called "Big Ten Battleground: Campaign 2008," which will air at 3 p.m. CDT (4 p.m. EDT) on the Big Ten Network.
The scientific poll, which is sampling 600 individuals in each of the eight states, is co-directed by University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientists Charles Franklin, co-developer of Pollster.com, and Ken Goldstein, director of the Wisconsin Advertising Project, which tracks political ads on television. The survey will cover Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota.
"The states of the Big Ten are among the most competitive in the country and likely to be pivotal in determining the election outcome," Franklin says. "Now, for the first time, the Big Ten universities are collaborating in a region wide poll allowing us to compare voting patterns in each of the eight Big Ten states and with national polling as well."
Goldstein says the project plays to Big Ten universities' traditional strength in studying elections.
"This project gives our universities the opportunity to pool the knowledge of all of our political experts and help viewers understand voter opinion," Goldstein says. "And, of course, many of our home states will be the most important and contested battlegrounds of the 2008 elections. Whoever wins the Big Ten will likely win the presidency."
Universities participating in the partnership are the University of Illinois, the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Penn State University and UW-Madison.
"Big Ten Battleground: Campaign 2008" taps the power of the Big Ten Network to provide its universities with topical university programming outside of the sports realm. Each Big Ten university can take advantage of up to 60 hours of university programming on the network each year.
"That's a key part of our mission, and this first-ever effort at collaborative programming uses the network's national reach to give viewers a window into the groundbreaking work being done on our campuses," says Mark Silverman, president of the Big Ten Network.
"This is the kind of original university programming that we envisioned when the network launched," Silverman adds. "There are many compelling stories and events taking place on and around Big Ten campuses that affect viewers across the country, and we are pleased to aid such relevant programming to a national audience."
Faculty members from around the Big Ten say the project will provide valuable insight on how the electorate views the race and an important classroom and research tool - providing a bridge between academia and real-time politics.
"This project allows for current campaign analysis that is accessible to the general public, students, academics and analysts alike," says Victoria De Francesco Soto, assistant professor in Northwestern University's Department of Political Science.
She said the regional polling approach is crucial to analyzing the race.
"The regional focus of this project emphasizes the importance of unpacking the wholesale political analysis we typically are exposed to," she says. "The regional emphasis is of tremendous value because we get a cleaner and more precise picture of the election dynamics at the individual level, and we are able to focus in on the hottest region of the country because of the number of swing states in the Big Ten."
Michael Traugott, professor and chair of the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan, noted that recent presidential elections have been closely contested and were decided by the outcome in a small number of battleground states.
"In the 2008 campaign, five key battleground states are in the Midwest and have Big Ten universities in them: Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin," Traugott says. "This collaboration between the Big Ten universities will provide important data comparing how the campaign is affecting voters in the region in direct comparison to the rest of the United States. There is no other data source like this."
The Big Ten Battleground Poll will be repeated in mid-October, with the results presented in another installment of the show on the Big Ten Network.