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Malcolm A. Kline

is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia (AIA), a non-profit research group reporting on bias in education. In that capacity, Kline serves as editor-in-chief of AIA’s two web sites—www.academia.org and www.campusreportonline.net. Kline also edits AIA’s monthly newsletter, Campus Report. He has hosted a monthly online broadcast on www.rightalk.com.

He previously worked as the editor of the National Journalism Center (NJC) and has written for a variety of publications including USA TodayCrisis magazine, The American EnterpriseOrganization Trends (from the Capital Research Center), Insight magazine, Human EventsThe National Catholic RegisterThe Non-Profit Times, andConsumer’s Research magazine. A graduate of the University of Scranton, Kline also worked as an intern at the NJC, contributing research for columnist Donald Lambro’s syndicated column.

The husband of the former Annie-Grace Saungweme, and father of three, the native Pennsylvanian now makes his home in Triangle, VA.

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Academic Problem with Polls

March 30, 2016, Malcolm A. Kline, 

When academics point out the problems with polls, they might wind up trying to regulate them. “Because one of the things I want to say about public opinion polls is that they are the child of a very bad marriage between academics and journalists,” Jill Lepore, a staff writer for the New Yorker, said in an appearance at Harvard last year.

Lepore also teaches at Harvard. “When modern public opinion polling began in the 1930s, the response rate—which is the percentage of people who answer a survey, of those who are asked—the response rate in the 1930s was well above 90,” Lepore said in remarks at the Kennedy School at Harvard. “By the 1980s, that rate had fallen to 60.”

“And pollsters began to panic, because they believed it was going to be impossible to continue their work if the rate fell below 30. It has since sunk to the single digits. A not uncommon response rate for an American public opinion poll is three.”

Perhaps not too surprisingly, she finds the results of polls distressing. “Turning the press into pollsters has made American political culture Trumpian: frantic, volatile, shortsighted, sales driven, and antidemocratic,” she said.

Her solution? “And while you can’t put the genie back in the bottle, there are a great many things that we are comfortable, as a political community, regulating, to improve the nature of our deliberative democracy,” she said at Harvard. “And one of them, I think, ought to be this industry.”