Lee Miringoff is the founder and director of the Marist Poll. He also teaches Public Opinion & Politics, Survey Research & Analytics, and Political Communication.
When did you join Marist? What initially drew you to the school?
I joined the Marist political science faculty in the fall of 1975 when I was 24. I grew up in Poughkeepsie with my family so I liked the smallness, value, and commitment of Marist. As a young teacher, it was a good way to get my feet wet.
Why is it important for students to work at MIPO?
There are lots of value that the students get from their work. They take coursework in political communications. They are also taken to Washington D.C. to meet with political journalists and to New Hampshire for the primary. It’s very up close and personal for them. They get to meet the reporters that they are polling for and it creates contacts for them. The students are the secret sauce. We employ around 300 students of all majors.
What is it that you enjoy the most about working at Marist, particularly the students?
My advocacy and my vocation are the same. In essence, I have a “lab” with committed, insightful, hardworking, and fun students. It is one in the same. I expect to do this a long time, as it is never the same. Students, elections, and technology are always changing. When alumni come back to visit, they seem shocked at the changes, practically hitting the floor in shock. Some students go on to become political strategists. All of my students learn to talk the right way. It’s rigorous work with wide implications. They get a front row seat to the elections. It’s a very unique experience. Polling has grown dramatically.
What generated your interest in public opinion? When did you realize MIPO became a success?
In 1978, I taught a class on voting behavior and one of my students suggested doing a poll since there were city elections occurring at the time. I thought it was a good way to integrate voting behavior into elections. We gathered 100 students to conduct exit polls. They interviewed voters and hand tallied the results. We nailed it because of the extensive interviews and that became the Marist Poll. We were the first college-based poll to utilized undergraduates for survey research. It is a great way for the students to get publicity and have an education at the same time. The theory behind what we did has stayed the same but the application has changed since then.
In your opinion, why does public opinion matter?
We’re a democracy. This can create frustration but it also calls for the system to function better. Public opinion puts the voice of the public on the table.
What’s something that you’re exceptionally proud of from a teaching perspective?
The best moments don’t take place in the classroom. They are always the most recent big moments. 20 years ago, it was the students attending the political convention in New York City. Recently, it was the D.C. and NH trips and the election nights. These moments provide students with unique educational experiences that I would have loved to have when I was in college. It creates opportunities for students that they cannot get anywhere else. This video is a summation of how proud I am of the Marist Poll.
What’s one thing about yourself that you would like a prospective student to know?
I believe very strongly in enjoying the process of learning. The most rewarding thing is when a student gets a job and puts a ladder out for the next student to climb up in the world. I enjoy students doing good things by working hard.
What’s something that you hope your students take away from their time working with and learning from you?
I want students to grasp the concept that politics matters. Learning can be a lifetime process and this is just a rung in the ladder.
Written by Adriana Belmonte '17
Profile Tags:Profile Type: Faculty
Academic School: Liberal Arts
Campus: New York