This post is part of a series that explores how Center for Political Studies (CPS) researchers came to their work. Here, we follow the academic path of CPS Research Professor and Professor of Communication Studies, Mike Traugott.
Professor Traugott’s career began at Princeton University. While an undergraduate studying political science, he served as a research assistant for Dr. George Gallup, founder of the prominent polling group the Gallup Organization. His senior thesis advisor, Professor Stanley Kelley, urged him to attend graduate school at the University of Michigan. Traugott’s intention was to learn more about the field and then return to working for Gallup, with no thought of becoming a university-based researcher, let alone a college professor.
While at the University of Michigan, Traugott worked with Warren Miller – of Campbell, Converse, Miller, & Stokes fame – on the seminal study of The American Voter. Beginning in 1968 and through the 1970s, Miller and Traugott helped ABC News develop their campaign coverage. The project took place amidst innovation in polling. First, telephone interviewing evolved to become an industry standard. And second, television networks partnered with major daily newspapers to conduct polls. Traugott was fascinated by and part of how public opinion evolved into a newsworthy topic.
Trained as a political scientist and with deep experience in polling, Traugott became a leading expert on survey methodology, public opinion, and voting technology. He teaches extensively, and his research has resulted in the publication of 12 books and 100 articles and chapters.