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MIPO releases new Mid-Hudson opinion poll

Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 23:10

The Marist Institute of Public Opinion and the Dyson Foundation have conducted several projects together, including many national and regional opinion polls. The two have once again collaborated to introduce a new kind of opinion poll targeted specifically at the Mid-Hudson Valley region, titled “Many Voices One Valley 2012.” On Monday, Oct. 1, MIPO held a press conference in Marist’s Hancock Center to discuss the details of this new project. Several press members from regional broadcasts and newspapers were in attendance.

The conference provided three speakers and an interactive visual presentation about the new study. The first speaker was Diana Gurieva, the executive vice president of the Dyson Foundation. Following Gurieva was Barbara Carvalho, the director of the Marist Poll. Last was Dr. Lee Miringoff, the director of MIPO. Each provided his or her own input on the nature of this project and had hopes of its success.

“We hope that government leaders and elected officials will use this data to learn more about the communities that they serve and to help determine the priorities for the region,” Gurieva said. “We hope that community activists, nonprofit organizations and volunteer leaders will also use this poll to understand better the community and to more effectively hone their work over the next five years.”

“This poll provides an in depth look into a region over time,” Miringoff added.

“Many Voices One Valley 2012” targets seven counties in the Hudson Valley, including Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan and Ulster counties. Dyson and MIPO based the questionnaire off of data that has been gathered over the past decade and polls that were conducted every five years. Organizing the poll called for an estimated 4,440 interviews, which is quadruple the sample size of interviews held in their national polls. The survey provided 10 separate issues for members of the public; in return, the interviewee rated them on a scale of 0-10 in terms of priority. Once the data was gathered, the next step was to average out the answers and make the final priority rankings.  This poll sets itself apart from other polls MIPO has performed because it is more detail-oriented and there is a rich data set available.

Following Gurieva, Carvalho proceeded to give an in depth presentation of the survey’s findings for the 2012 year. The results were as follows: 1. Keeping local business in region; 2. Job creation; 3. Public education; 4. Healthcare; 5. Services for seniors; 6. Reducing taxes; 7. Making the community safer; 8. Access to health insurance; 9. After-school activities; and 10. Protecting open space. This updated list or priorities provides essential insight into the concerns of the residents of the Mid-Hudson Valley. There have been significant changes in the priority of these issues over the past five years, but this year’s data shows a prime focus on economic issues.

Another vital component of “Many Voices One Valley 2012” is its website, which has been made available to document the study’s findings. The student involvement in this project has been important as well. Over an estimated 300 students have been hired to conduct the polling, and students have also participated in the formulation of the website. All of the data gathered from the project can be found at http://manyvoicesonevalley.org. The nature of the site is very interactive, and the Dyson Foundation and MIPO are confident that this resource will allow for great change in public policy.

“We would like this to be a resource to the community,” Carvalho said. “We do see that there are many different ways of using this information. Organizations can set their own priorities and direct resources based on the need and experiences of people in the region. We hope to assimilate this to the public as well as students,” Carvalho said.

At the end of the presentation, there was time dedicated for Q-and-A. When asked how the Dyson Foundation and MIPO anticipate change for the region, Gurieva gave a response that culminated the organization’s mission.

“We don’t have a predetermined agenda; other than that we believe that good data makes for better decision making,” she said.

Marist also plans to hold workshops in November for local organizations to learn how to navigate the website in hopes of gaining more public participation. With the vast amount of data that has been collected from the project and the interactive website available to the public, the Dyson Foundation and MIPO are eager to see what developments may arise in the Mid-Hudson valley region through “Many Voices One Valley 2012.”

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