Public Policy Polling

Public Policy Polling
Public Policy Polling
Type Private
Industry Opinion polling
Founded Raleigh, North Carolina (2001 (2001))
Founder(s) Dean Debnam
Headquarters 3020 Highwoods Boulevard
Raleigh, North Carolina
United States
Area served U.S.
Key people Dean Debnam (President, CEO)
Tom Jensen (Director)
Dustin Ingalls (Assistant to the Director)
Jim Shields (Research Director)

Public Policy Polling (PPP) is an American Democratic Party-affiliated polling firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina.[1][2][3] PPP was founded in 2001 by businessman and Democratic pollster Dean Debnam, the firm's current president and chief executive officer.[1][4] The company's surveys use Interactive Voice Response (IVR), an automated questionnaire used by other polling firms such as SurveyUSA and Rasmussen Reports.[5]

PPP's polls have been described as very accurate in the 2008 U.S. presidential election by The Wall Street Journal[5] and Mark Blumenthal, senior polling editor of the Huffington Post and the founding editor of,[6] among others. Although being affiliated with the Democratic Party, PPP has not exhibited a Democratic bias in its polling results; according to Nate Silver of, PPP actually had a small pro-Republican bias in its 2010 polling results.



PPP first entered prominence through their performance in the 2008 Democratic primaries between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The company performed very well, producing extremely accurate predictions in many states ranging from South Carolina to Wisconsin, many of which featured inaccurate results by other pollsters.[7][8][9]

In 2010, 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 what was considered an upset.[10]

In 2011, PPP was praised 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,[11][12] as well as all eight Wisconsin recall elections.

PPP has been known for asking unexpected and unusual questions, including those without bearing on politics, such as the approval rating of God,[13] and the percentage of voters who believe President Obama would be eligible for entering heaven in the event of the Rapture.[14] Many of these questions come from suggestions by PPP readers on the company's weblog.

Partnership with Dailykos

Many PPP election polls were commissioned by the liberal website Dailykos, although the company states that most of its revenue comes from other sources. [15].


Not all of the polls by Public Policy Polling have been accurate; the company has had its share of inaccurate results. Among the most notable of its mispredictions were that of the 2008 Democratic presidential primary in Pennsylvania[16] (in which it predicted an Obama victory; Clinton ultimately won by 9-10%), and that in the 2009 special election in New York's 23rd Congressional District.[17] In New York, the official Republican candidate dropped out of the race and endorsed the Democratic candidate while PPP was in the field interviewing voters. PPP's results showed the conservative candidate with a large lead; in the end, the Democrat won with a 2.3% lead.


  1. ^ a b Kraushaar, Josh (June 23, 2009). "Poll vs. pol: Richard Burr says numbers lie". Politico. Retrieved November 2, 2009. 
  2. ^ Goldsmith, Thomas (October 8, 2009). "'Neighborhood schools' issue tapped anger". The News & Observer. Retrieved November 2, 2009. 
  3. ^ Nowicki, Dan (September 27, 2009). "Arizonans split down the middle on Obama". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved November 2, 2009. 
  4. ^ Bracken, David (October 3, 2009). "Pollster turns political". The News & Observer. Retrieved November 2, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Bialik, Carl (November 6, 2009). "Polls Foresaw Future, Which Looks Tough for Polling". The Wall Street Journal: pp. A16. Retrieved November 2, 2009. 
  6. ^ Blumenthal, Mark (June 18, 2010). "Rating Pollster Accuracy: How Useful?". Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  7. ^ Sarlin, Benjy (August 22, 2011). "How PPP Became The 'It' Democratic Pollster". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  8. ^ "PPP: most accurate numbers in the country for South Carolina". Public Policy Polling. January 26, 2008. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Taylor, Jessica (January 9, 2010). "Poll: Scott Brown ahead of Martha Coakley by 1 point". Politico. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  11. ^ Catanese, David (July 14, 2011). "The polling is right: Why PPP deserves props". Politico. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  12. ^ Isenstadt, Alex. "NY-26: The winners and losers". Politico. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Public Policy Poll: God Commands 52% Approval". July 24, 2011. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  14. ^ Rosenbaum, Ron (July 19, 2011). "Only 19 Percent of Republicans Think Obama Would Be Raptured". Slate. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  15. ^ Ball, Molly (March 31, 2011). "PPP sells to left, polls down middle - Molly Ball". Politico. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Where did we go wrong?". Public Policy Polling. April 22, 2008. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Weird Night for PPP". Public Policy Polling. November 4, 2009. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 

External links

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