My goal is to provide the best research-based commentary on the subject of religion, politics, social connection, and community. 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. Similar to the research produced by the Center, my goal is simple: to inform and educate. I’ve been a public pollster for my entire career, and the overriding goal has always been the same. Get out of the way and provide opportunities for America’s many publics to speak. The work we do and the reason for our existence is to share the opinions of others on the topics and experiences they care most about—what’s happening in their lives.
What You’ll Find Here
The topics will vary, but it will include new ways of understanding religious behavior and beliefs. Community concerns and feelings of social connection and dislocation. My work is rooted in the and appreciation for the people I talk to, who share their time and their stories by answering questions from strangers. One of the goals for the newsletter is to engage with other researchers whose work I admire, and whose ideas are particularly relevant to the discussions we’re having.
Inquire. Reflect. Question.
There’s lots of reasons to disparage social media. One its many flaws is that it works exceedingly well at opinion expression, but is poorly equipped for nuanced discussion. of methods of articulation so available is that many of us have become adept at sharing our opinion, but in the process we with the thoughts and views of others. I hope this work encourages people to become a bit more thoughtful, and a lot more curious about what people think. After nearly 20 years of doing this work I’m still regularly surprised at what Americans believe, and why they do. In learning about not only what other people think about current events, but how they live and what really matters to them we can became better acquainted with our fellow citizens.
I have been conducting polls for more than 15 years. But my interest in polling began in graduate school. In 2004, while I was a graduate student at Georgetown University I had an opportunity to work on a polling project exploring religious lives of Gen Y—we weren’t calling them Millennials yet. It was a revelatory experience. That you could use polling data not only to predict election outcomes, but to better understand human behavior, and gain insight into personal and deeply held beliefs was something I had never considered. I went on to work at the Pew Research Center, cofound another nonprofit polling organization and in 2020 I launched the Survey Center on American Life. Since then, we have conducted polls focused on friendship, community life, social isolation and loneliness and religious decline and meaning—topics not regularly featured in media polls, and political surveys.