A political scientist by training, Michael Traugott has been interested in public opinion research since his undergraduate days at Princeton when he answered an ad for interviewers at the Gallup Organization.
Before he left for graduate school at the University of Michigan, he spent time as a research assistant to Dr. George Gallup in the election of 1964. He describes himself as being sent to Ann Arborby Professor Stanley Kelley, for whom he wrote his senior thesis, and Dr. Gallup, and his career was strongly influenced by Angus Campbell, Philip Converse, Warren Miller, and Donald Stokes. While working with Miller on a contract to assist ABC television with election night coverage, he became a kind of participant observer in television’s capture of election coverage from newspapers, the rise of the polling combines forged between national networks and major metropolitan dailies, and the influence of polling on political news making. In conjunction with survey methodology, these have remained his lifelong research interests.
He has written extensively, alone and with wonderful collaborators, about campaigns and elections, public opinion, the use of polls in journalism, and survey methods. The bulk of his research falls in the area of political communication, and he has also has studied various aspects of election administration. One intersection of these interests is in the study of vote validation and its impact on turnout models. He has served as a consultant to a number of news organizations for their election coverage, and he has held a variety of fellowships that took him to other institutions for research and teaching stints.
He has been fortunate to be able to spend his entire career at the University of Michigan, starting at the Institute for Social Research and eventually becoming a Senior Research Scientist there and a Professor of Communication Studies. He has been active in AAPOR for more than 30 years, holding a number of Council positions including service as President in 1999-2000. In 2008, he was asked to chair the AAPOR Ad Hoc Committee on the 2008 Presidential Primary Polling. He has also been very active in WAPOR, also serving in various Council positions and as President from 2006-2008.