Public Policy Polling

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Public Policy Polling
IndustryOpinion polling
Founded2001; 19 years ago (2001)
Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.
FounderDean Debnam
2912 Highwoods Boulevard, Suite 201
Raleigh, North Carolina
Area served
United States
Key people
Dean Debnam (President, CEO)
Tom Jensen (Director)

Public Policy Polling (PPP) is a U.S. Democratic[1] polling firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina.[2][3][4] PPP was founded in 2001 by businessman Dean Debnam, the firm's current president and chief executive officer.[5]

In addition to political issues, the company has polled the public on topics such as the approval rating of God,[6] whether Republican voters believe President Obama would be eligible to enter heaven in the event of the Rapture,[7] whether hipsters should be subjected to a special tax for being annoying,[8] and whether Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer.[9][10]



PPP first entered prominence through its performance in the 2008 Democratic primaries between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The company performed well, producing accurate predictions in states ranging from South Carolina to Wisconsin, many of which featured inaccurate results by other pollsters.[11][non-primary source needed][12] After the November election, PPP was ranked by the Wall Street Journal as one of the two most accurate firms, among those who were most active in the presidential swing states.[2]


PPP was the first pollster to find Scott Brown with a lead over Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts Senate special election; Brown ultimately won in a major comeback, and PPP's final poll in that race predicted Brown's winning margin exactly.[13]


PPP was praised[by whom?] for its accuracy in polling primaries and special elections, which are notoriously hard to predict. The contests they accurately predicted include the West Virginia gubernatorial primaries, special elections in New York and California,[14][15] as well as all eight Wisconsin recall elections.


A study by Fordham University found that, of 28 firms studied, PPP had the most accurate poll on the presidential national popular vote, both its independently conducted poll and the one it does in collaboration with the Daily Kos and the SEIU.[16][17] PPP correctly called the winner of the presidential election in all 19 states it polled in the final week of the election, as well as the winners of all the U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races it surveyed.[18][19][20][21][22]


Political research firm YouGov found PPP’s gubernatorial polls to have the lowest average margin of error among national firms that polled in at least five gubernatorial races in the month preceding the election.[23]


In the 2016 Presidential Election, PPP's final polls widely missed the mark in several key swing states, including New Hampshire,[24] North Carolina,[25] Pennsylvania,[26] and Wisconsin.[27] Their polls also significantly underestimated President Trump's lead in Ohio,[28] and incorrectly predicted Hillary Clinton to win Florida.[29]


The company's surveys use Interactive Voice Response (IVR), an automated questionnaire used by other polling firms such as SurveyUSA and Rasmussen Reports.[30] The journalist Nate Cohn has criticized the company's methodology as being "unscientific".[31]

In 2013 columnist Nate Cohn described PPP as a liberal pollster,[32] although according to statistician Nate Silver, PPP had a tendency to slightly lean Republican as of September 2016.[33] As of February 11th, 2017 Silver's website, FiveThirtyEight, gives PPP a B+ grade in its pollster ranking.[33]


  1. ^ Jensen, Tom (November 5, 2008). "PPP's 'Bias'". Public Policy Polling. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Sarlin, Benjy (August 22, 2011). "How PPP Became The 'It' Democratic Pollster". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  3. ^ Pathé, Simone (March 23, 2016). "Not Your Average Pollster: He Says Phones Are Out and Trump Is Credible". Roll Call. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  4. ^ Kraushaar, Josh (June 23, 2009). "Sen. launches attack -- on polling firm". Politico. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  5. ^ "About Us", Public Policy Polling, 2012. Retrieved on 6 December 2012.
  6. ^ "Public Policy Poll: God Commands 52% Approval". July 24, 2011. Retrieved October 21, 2011.
  7. ^ Rosenbaum, Ron (July 19, 2011). "Only 19 Percent of Republicans Think Obama Would Be Raptured". Slate. Retrieved October 21, 2011.
  8. ^ "Hipster Tax For Being 'So Annoying' Backed By 27 Percent Of Americans: Poll". The Huffington Post. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
  9. ^ Stuart, Tessa (26 February 2016). "Is Ted Cruz the Zodiac Killer? Maybe, Say 38 Percent of Florida Voters". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Trump Leads Rubio in Florida- Even Head to Head" (PDF). Public Policy Polling. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  11. ^ "PPP: most accurate numbers in the country for South Carolina". Public Policy Polling. January 26, 2008. Retrieved October 21, 2011.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Taylor, Jessica (January 9, 2010). "Poll: Scott Brown ahead of Martha Coakley by 1 point". Politico. Retrieved October 21, 2011.
  14. ^ Catanese, David (July 14, 2011). "The polling is right: Why PPP deserves props". Politico. Retrieved October 21, 2011.
  15. ^ Isenstadt, Alex. "NY-26: The winners and losers". Politico. Retrieved October 21, 2011.
  16. ^ Leighton, Kyle (7 November 2012). "Fordham Study: Public Policy Polling Deemed Most Accurate National Pollster In 2012". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  17. ^ Easley, Jonathan (7 November 2012). "Study finds PPP was the most accurate pollster in 2012". The Hill. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
  18. ^ Mahtesian, Charles (7 November 2012). "PPP nailed it". Politico. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  19. ^ Bialik, Carl (7 November 2012). "How did pollsters fare on election night?". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  20. ^ Lauter, David (8 November 2012). "Which pollsters did best: Non-traditional methods were standouts". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  21. ^ Enten, Harry (7 November 2012). "How the pollsters won the 2012 US election, mostly". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  22. ^ LoGiurato, Brett (12 November 2012). "How a three-man polling team completely nailed their election prediction". Business Insider. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  23. ^ "YouGov | YouGov poll performance in the 2014 Governor elections". YouGov: What the world thinks. Retrieved 2015-07-16.
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ PublicPolicyPolling [@ppppolls] (7 November 2016). "Post Labor Day we haven't done a single Ohio poll that had either candidate up by more than 1" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  29. ^ PublicPolicyPolling [@ppppolls] (7 November 2016). "Think Hillary will win both but more confident about Florida" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  30. ^ Bialik, Carl (November 6, 2008). "Polls Foresaw Future, Which Looks Tough for Polling". The Wall Street Journal. pp. A16. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  31. ^ Cohn, Nate (2013-09-12). "There's Something Wrong With America's Premier Liberal Pollster". New Republic. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  32. ^
  33. ^ a b Silver, Nate (2016-06-02). "FiveThirtyEight's Pollster Ratings". Retrieved 2016-07-19.

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