What is American Storylines?
American Storylines is a place for polling-based commentary about critical aspects of American life and experience. Whether it’s Generation Z, abortion, loneliness, or the rapidly changing religious landscape, my goal is to share the best and most reliable research on a variety of political and cultural topics. The newsletter serves as an extension of the polling work I do at the Survey Center on American Life, a project of the American Enterprise Institute. My goal here is simple: to inform and educate.
Whether it’s social media, newsletters, or blogs, Americans have more opportunities than ever to share their opinions. That’s good. As a public opinion scholar my livelihood is based on the willingness of strangers to share their experiences and perspectives. But too many opinions are shared by too few people. We are inundated with opinions from politically active people. But there are large swathes of the country we rarely hear from. Public opinion is one remedy. Polling—at least in theory if not in practice—can lift up marginalized voices and offer perspectives infrequently featured in social media or news reports.
I hope this work encourages people to become more thoughtful and a lot more curious about each other. After nearly 20 years of doing this work I’m still regularly surprised at what Americans believe and why.
I write two research articles a month, or more precisely, every other week. These pieces are based on the survey research we conduct at the Survey Center, publicly available data sources such as the General Social Survey, and archived survey data that most people do not have access to. In addition, the Data Digest offers quick news-related polling commentary published at irregular intervals. This feature will only be available to paid subscribers. Paid subscribers will also have the opportunity to participate in Q&A conversations.
I’ve been a public pollster my entire career. My work is meant to be read by anyone and everyone with an interest in these topics. I received a PhD in Government from Georgetown University, but my research interests have always been broader than politics. I started my polling career at the Pew Research Center, cofounded the nonprofit polling organization PRRI, and in 2020 I launched the Survey Center on American Life. Since then, we have conducted polls focused on friendship, dating, conspiracy theories, and the religious decline in family life—topics not regularly featured in media polls, and political surveys. We conduct research that is of interest to everyone. A career highlight was having our research featured in the Saturday Night Live skit Man Park.