The Franklin & Marshall College Poll, now in its 25th year, is the longest running statewide poll exclusively directed and produced in Pennsylvania. The poll tracks citizen opinion on politics, public affairs, public policy, and elections in Pennsylvania. Berwood Yost, director of F&M’s Center for Opinion Research, is the head methodologist for the poll, and Terry Madonna, director of F&M’s Center for Politics and Public affairs, is the director of the poll.
Yost and Madonna created the poll in 1991, when they designed and carried out a seminal survey of public opinion about the 1991 U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania. That poll clearly identified the reasons for the competitiveness of the race, and accurately identified topics that subsequently became key issues in the 1992 presidential election.
Building on the success of this first poll, in 1992 Yost and Madonna named the poll “the Keystone Poll” and began a series of regular surveys to gauge public opinion on important topics, including public policy issues, voter opinions and candidate preferences, party identification and partisanship levels, and the social and economic characteristics of voters. In 2003 the poll, along with the Center for Opinion Research and the Center for Politics and Public Affairs, moved from Millersville University to Franklin & Marshall College, and in 2008 was re-named the Franklin & Marshall College Poll.
Over the years, surveys have been conducted statewide and in Pennsylvania's congressional districts, state legislative districts, and municipalities, including every Philadelphia mayoral election since 1995. The poll continues to be a primary source of information for those involved in government, media, and public policy in Pennsylvania, and public officials have used survey results to argue for important public policy changes.
In recent years, the poll has achieved national stature; in fact, national surveys have been conducted several times since 2008. Results of both Pennsylvania statewide surveys and national polling have appeared in scores of newspapers and news magazines, scholarly publications, and television network and cable news. Notably, in 2012 the New York Times identified the Franklin & Marshall College Poll as one of the most accurate polls in America during the 2012 elections.
The F&M Poll was identified as one of the top 20 most accurate polls in the nation during the 2012 election.