Dr. Paul Djupe and POSC 491- Democracy and Disagreement

Special to The Denisonian

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 4.53.36 PMPollsters and political scientists often ask approval questions in mass surveys as a way to gauge in a general way to connect citizens to people and institutions that may have some responsibility to the public. The most common and most repeated asks how well the president is doing his (up until now, anyway) job.

Likewise, we asked a nearly representative sample of Denison students, “Based on your personal experience, please tells us whether you approve or disapprove of the job the following people and groups are doing.” We collapsed the response options of approve/strongly approve and disapprove/strongly disapprove and left out those who said they “don’t know” (and there were often high numbers that reported no knowledge).

Of those with an opinion, every person, committee, and office we asked about garnered majority support, though DCGA just narrowly squeaked over the line with 54% approval. Support quickly climbs past fraternities (58%), who lose out by a few percent to Whistler (62%), so that organizations starting with The Bullsheet all have over 80% support. Anchoring the high end is President Weinberg with 97.5% approval.

For context, President Obama’s and the Supreme Court’s approval ratings are hovering in the high 40s (depending on the poll), while Congress’ approval rating is 11 percent in the latest Gallup poll. There is quite a bit more support for the job our campus leaders and organizations are doing  accompanied by quite a bit less rancor.

We offer these results without comment and caution against comparisons between organizations/offices since they perform different functions. These statistics do allow us to begin asking intentional questions for the public good, such as why people approve and disapprove at the levels they do.

Created by students in POSC 491, the survey was administered online through our Qualtrics account and was open from October 10-26 with invitations sent to everyone listed through the MyDenison directory (2,194 emails were sent). 967 surveys were started, though only about 610 were finished. The sample has a few too many females (59.5% compared to 55% of Denison students) and has a near accurate representation of multicultural students (the sample is 70% white compared to 68% listed in Denison fast facts).

Graph courtesy of Dr. Paul Djupe, Nathaniel Nakon, Duncan Moran and the rest of POSC 491- Democracy and Disagreement