Center for Opinion Research

The Center for Opinion Research is a full-scale survey research organization based at F&M. With research capabilities enhanced by its relationship with F&M, the center designs innovative and thoughtful research solutions to help organizations answer important questions and make strategic decisions.

Our Work

The Center for Opinion Research has a reputation for insightful data analysis, reliability, and outstanding accuracy, and is widely recognized as one of the nation’s foremost survey research organizations.

The Franklin & Marshall College Poll

Started in 1992, the Franklin & Marshall College Poll is the longest running statewide poll exclusively directed and produced in Pennsylvania. The poll is a primary source of information for those involved in government, media, and public policy in Pennsylvania.

See the latest poll results and other analyses

Center for Politics and Public Affairs

We work in tandem with the Center for Politics and Public Affairs.

Located within Franklin & Marshall College, the Center for Politics and Public Affairs (CPPA) fosters the practice of democracy through the study of politics and public policy.

Learn more


Projects and Publications

The Center’s research expertise covers a wide range of topics and methodologies. We regularly conduct program evaluations, public policy research, community needs assessments, and marketing and consumer satisfaction surveys. Our team uses a variety of research methods, including surveys, focus groups, depth interviews, and statistical analysis. Over the years, we have developed a number of sophisticated data-sharing and reporting tools, including  interactive online databases and geographic information system (GIS) mapping.

In addition to conducting research on behalf of clients, we also pursue scholarly research, primarily in the areas of healthcare, education, public policy, voting behavior, and the methodologies and mechanisms of survey research itself. Our principles have been conducting this research for more than 20 years, and that contextual knowledge provides tremendous value in designing research and interpreting findings.


In the News

The Center's work on politics, public policy, and healthcare is often featured in the news. Poll results have appeared in media outlets like USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, National Public Radio, and CNN, to name a few.


Our Services

Our philosophy is to design and conduct studies that are customized to the needs of each individual client. Our project managers have extensive experience helping organizations evaluate needs, define research goals, and design effective research strategies. We provide survey research, qualitative research, data entry and verification, transcription, and statistical analysis and reporting services.

Whether your project is large or small, whether you need us to design and conduct research from beginning to end, or whether you simply need help analyzing existing data, we have the expertise to help you meet your goals.

Questionnaire and Sample Design

We use the following sampling and screening methods, employing the ones that will best meet the survey's goals:

  • Random digit dialing, a method used by survey researchers for many years. A computer program generates a list of telephone numbers from known area codes and prefixes. Random digit dialing has proven to be an extremely reliable sampling methodology.
  • Address-based sampling, a method that produces a random sample of households in the area to be surveyed
  • List sampling, a method whereby you provide us with a specific list of names to survey.
  • Second-stage sampling, or a technique that greatly enhances the validity of survey data. For telephone surveys, further screening techniques — or second stage sampling methodologies — are used to eliminate biases that might arise from simply interviewing the person who answers the telephone.

Data Collection

As with questionnaire design and sampling, the method used for collecting data is driven by your research goals and budget. Our project managers and interviewers are experienced in a variety of scientifically valid data-collection techniques, including:

  • Telephone interviews
  • In-Person interviews
  • Depth interviews, or individual interviews conducted with a small number of participants, either in-person or on the phone
  • Web surveys
  • Mail surveys

We also assist organizations who wish to self-administer a survey.

Focus Groups

We can help with all areas of your focus group project, from design and recruitment through analysis. A focus group can be held at our location, or we can come to a location that is closer to where your participants reside. Our state-of-the-art focus group facility is also available for rent, should you simply need a specially designed space for holding your already planned group.

Program and Grant Evaluation

A program and grant evaluation will help determine whether services are deployed well and are doing what they are intended to do, and whether there are any gaps in services. A data-driven program evaluation is particularly useful for informing grantors and funding agencies that their money is being well spent. Generally, there are three different kinds of program evaluations that we consider when developing an evaluation plan for your organization:

  • Needs evaluations, conducted prior to a program being funded or implemented, which identify and measure unmet needs within an organization or community. 
  • Process evaluations, which document how a program has been delivered, who is being served, and whether a program is operating as expected. 
  • Impact evaluations, which determine the direct effects of a program on users. They determine whether a program has achieved its goals and produced desired changes.

Data Analysis, Reports and Presentations

Once all data are gathered, we perform a comprehensive analysis of findings in order to answer your project's research questions. Most often, we analyze data that we have collected. However, we can also help you understand data that your organization has collected. During the data analysis phase, we will consult with you to ensure that analysis questions are answered in a clear and comprehensive manner.

Education and Outreach

We take pride in fostering a close relationship with F&M and the surrounding Lancaster community. We often offer opportunities for students to get hands-on experience in survey research and for Lancaster organizations to work with us — a local team — to reach their goals.

Classes and Seminars

Our director, Berwood Yost, regularly teaches F&M courses on survey research methodology and public policy. He also teaches a highly praised course called “Public Health Research: Pregnancy Outcomes in American Women.” Through the lenses of biology, economics, American studies, and women’s, gender and sexuality studies, the course explores our research into pregnancy outcomes among Amish women in Lancaster County.

Student Opportunities

F&M students can participate in our work in a variety of ways. Student interns assist with data analysis, reporting, and other projects. They also regularly participate in our surveys and focus groups seeking information about student life, career possibilities, drug and alcohol use on campus, and other issues. We have also employed students as both telephone interviewers and call center supervisors. We most often work with students studying government, public health, and public policy.

Lancaster Community Involvement

Our research has helped many different groups work toward positive change and growth in areas such as crime reduction, community services, recreation, community health, the arts, education, and local government. We have worked extensively with many organizations, including the Lancaster City Police, the Lancaster Community Safety Coalition, the School District of Lancaster, Lancaster General Hospital, the East King Street Improvement District, the Lancaster Alliance, LancasterARTS, Lancaster Family YMCA, and the North Museum.

Standards and Ethics

The Center for Opinion Research adheres to the standards and ethics for the best practices of our profession as expressed in the American Association of Public Opinion Research Code of Professional Ethics and Practice (AAPOR). We guarantee the highest standards of scientific integrity in conducting research, collecting and analyzing data, and reporting results. Further, our ethics demand open and honest relationships with both our clients and the general public. We will refuse any project or research that would require us to violate our standards in any way.

 View the AAPOR Code of Professional Ethics and Practices  



Contact Us

Operating Hours

Monday - Friday: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Saturday: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Sunday: 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.


Mailing Address

Center for Opinion Research

Floyd Institute for Public Policy

Franklin & Marshall College

P.O. Box 3003

Lancaster, PA 17604



(717) 358-4401 (Office Administrator/General Information)

(866) 366-7655 (Toll-Free Call Center)

(717) 358-4632 (Local Call Center)

(717) 358-4666 (Fax)



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The Latest News

April 4, 2024

Biden Narrowly Leads Trump in March F&M Poll

In a one-on-one matchup, Democratic President Joe Biden leads Republican challenger Donald Trump by 10 points, 48% to 38%, but Biden’s advantage drops to 42% to 40% among Pennsylvania voters with third-party candidates added to the mix.

October 26, 2023

F&M October Poll: President Biden Leads Donald Trump in Pennsylvania

President Joe Biden narrowly leads Donald Trump in Pennsylvania, in the newly released October Franklin & Marshall College Poll.

April 13, 2023

Majorities Oppose Book Bans, Favor Gun Control, Legalized Abortion, F&M Poll Says

For Pennsylvania registered voters, 63% oppose banning books in public school classrooms and school libraries while 31% support book bans, the latest Franklin & Marshall College Poll shows. On...Franklin & Marshall College offers students a hands-on education that emphasizes close relationships with faculty. Students flourish in a supportive community that treats them as an individual, and their successes continue long after F&M. The College is a national leader in launching students and alumni to opportunities where they make a difference in the community and the world.