The Franklin & Marshall College Poll
The Franklin & Marshall College Poll (formerly the Keystone Poll) is the longest running Pennsylvania statewide poll exclusively directed and produced in the state. The poll traces its origins to the 1991 U.S. Senate race between former Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh and U.S. Senator Harris Wofford. In that race, the poll, produced at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, identified the competitiveness of the campaign and the issues that subsequently became the key issues in the 1992 presidential election. The poll officially became the Keystone Poll in 1992, when it was created by G. Terry Madonna, who became the director of the poll, and Berwood Yost, who became its head methodologist. Madonna and Yost have collaborated on more than 100 polls since establishing the partnership. The poll moved to Franklin & Marshall College in 2003. Madonna retired from F&M in 2020 and has returned to Millersville University. Yost, who heads the Center for Opinion Research at F&M, is the new director of the poll.
Since 1992, the poll has served as an important tool for teaching survey methodology and research design in government classes. In addition, thousands of students have been trained in proper interviewing techniques as part of a relationship established between the Government Department and the Centers for Opinion Research and Politics and Public Affairs at Millersville University, and, in 2003, at Franklin & Marshall College. The survey results—including candidate match ups, party identification and partisanship levels, candidate demographics, issue research, the social and economic characteristic of voters, just to mention a few aspects– have been used by undergraduate and graduate students, scholars in universities and think tanks, and the polling data have been used extensively by the media. The poll results, for example, have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and scores of other newspapers and news magazines, scholarly publications, as well on the television networks and cable news.
The poll has been distributed to a public audience since 1992 by numerous media partners—first by the Philadelphia Daily News and in 1994 by KYW-TV, Philadelphia. As the demand for the poll grew, the Harrisburg Patriot News was added, and Fox 29 (Philadelphia) replaced KYW, and then the Pittsburgh Tribune Review joined the statewide distribution network. CN8 the Comcast Network, also became a polling partner in 2002, replacing Fox News. As of 2008, the Philadelphia TV partner is WPVI-ABC6. The central Pennsylvania media partner is WGAL-TV and the western Pennsylvania partner is WTAE-TV. During the 2008 election cycle, The Time Shamrock-Newspapers and the Lancaster Newspapers, now LNP, joined the Daily News, joined the Patriot News/Pennlive and the Tribune Review as newspaper partners, along with The Reading Eagle in 2012.
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.