You grew up in a rural town outside Pittsburgh. How does that inform your perception of politics?
I had a firsthand view of what blue-collar America looks like. My dad worked in a plant and my mother was a bank teller and then branch manager. You see why pocketbook issues resonate with people. You also realize what “experts” miss is that there are differing opinions and factions within groups. You can’t paint everyone from the same place, the same demographic, with a broad brush. That’s what I try to get students to understand.
Since launching the Goucher Poll in 2012, you and your students have been surveying Marylanders, not just on candidates and races, but on the issues.
It makes me cringe when politicians dismiss polls, as if what the public thinks doesn’t matter. I think politicians have to do what they believe is best, but you can’t disregard public sentiment. Larry Hogan knows how to tap into that sentiment.
How do you determine what questions to ask in a poll?
If I ever hear a politician say something like, “The vast majority of the people in the state support this”—well, we’re going to test that.
You’ve written about the gender gap. Essentially, voters are equally willing to vote for female candidates, but there’s a shortage on the ballots?
Yes. The GOP in particular needs to recruit more. But there’s still an ambition gap. If I ask students in one of my classes if they’d consider running for office, a couple of boys will raise their hand. The smartest girl often will respond, “I can see myself working for a politician.” And I’m like, “No, you should run for office.”
Where do you live? Are you someone who gets involved in community issues?
Federal Hill. And yes, I’m the crime and safety chair for my neighborhood association. My husband is also now vice president of the Federal Hill South Neighborhood Association, and I’m so proud to be a politician’s wife. [Laughs.] Well, community activist’s wife.