Last Friday we highlighted a feature story in The Voice which did an excellent job discussing the climate for conservatives and free speech at Georgetown. Included along with it was a unscientific survey of student political attitudes.
The survey shows the self-selected group who responded to it are overwhelmingly liberal, which is not to say everyone else is as well. The problem with these sort of surveys is they only measure those who care enough to fill out the form, and those who are likely to respond are those who either regularly read The Voice or were persuaded to fill it out due to the influence of social networks and/or a desire to skew the results. We wonder too if controls were in place to prevent people from taking the survey multiple times.
In other words, it's not a representative sample of the student population.
The Voice's attempt at providing a snapshot of Hoya political attitudes was interesting, however. At TGA we're a big fan of using statistics when appropriate since we believe in making evidence-based decisions when it comes to, well, pretty much everything.
We discuss the importance of being knowledgeable about statistics on our Arguments & Ideas page and list some reasons why every student should take a statistics course in our Ratio Studiorum. It's up there with studying Plato. Among one of the more important reasons to know about statistics is so you learn to be skeptical of those who abuse statistics by promoting results derived from the use of inadequate methodologies or fraudulent studies designed to achieve the political ends of their authors.
We're not sure The Voice has the resources to do a methodologically sound survey of the studentry, but we encourage them to try. An easier research project would be finding out the political attitudes of the faculty since the professorial population is significantly smaller.
Just visit every professor.
Or The Voice could just visit faculty in, say, departments and programs oriented toward politics and public policy, (we would include the journalism program). One could also simply interview the chairs of each department and directors of every program in all the schools, but this wouldn't provide as much insight on faculty politics as opposed to those in leadership roles (though it wouldn't be a stretch to think they're reflective of the membership within their departments and programs).
Any of these efforts would prove interesting due to next year's election. We're pretty sure we know what the results would be, but it would interesting to see the actual numbers.