Follow the links for information on our 2009 exit polling , 2010 exit polling, 2011 exit polling, 2012 exit polling, 2013 exit polling, 2014 exit polling , 2015 exit polling , and 2016 exit polling experiences.

“Democracy needs people to be in the habit of thinking about the merits of the other view, and it’s truly a habit.  It’s a way of behaving. It’s not the kind of thing that you can just never do and then suddenly do with ease. Citizens in a democracy need to practice these skills, just like reading or playing an instrument. To do it well, you have to do it all the time." - Constitutional Law Professor Richard Primus, University of Michigan (from " A Lesson in Democracy for 9-Year-Olds" The Atlantic, 11/4/2016).

Click here for a video explanation of our exploration of civics and exit polling.

Here is a long feature story about our exit polling program from the Charleston City Paper from 2012 ("Across Charleston County, students run a serious exit poll"). Our 2016 efforts were spotlighted in one of the evening's lead articles on the Post and Courier ("Exit polls show Clinton wins Charleston County") and WCBD Channel 2 profiled our civics and exit polling program ("Kids conduct Lowcountry exit polls") on their evening broadcast. On November 10, Post and Courier reporter Paul Bowers gave a comprehensive look at our exit polling ("Student exit pollsters saw the election unfold up close").

* For fun, it is neat to read about one of the first campaign events we went to in January 2008.  USL went to a John McCain rally at Alex's Restaurant (now Page's Okra Grill), and it was an enlightening experience for the students.  You can read about the adventure and see some pictures here.

Overview - University School, serving grades 3-12, is a school that explores elections and the democratic process, and this means hearing from different candidates, learning about different parties, and exploring issues of governance and civics.  This is an annual experience, and it culminates in our yearly exit polling project, and this entails students going to precincts on Election Day to poll voters on their choices.  We then return to campus that day and make informed predictions of the outcomes of the races.  It is a great learning activity about mathematics, statistics, and the democratic process for us all.  Doing it yearly also enables students to see first-hand the ebb and flow of turnout rates for the different types of elections, etc., and it helps to develop students who will be active participants in the civic arena. 

2017 Preparation - Our students watch the news every morning, and we strive to keep them apprised of the issues of the day.  University School hosted Mt. Pleasant Mayoral candidates Linda Page and Will Haynie for separate presentations and Q&A sessions. A group of students also attended the Mt. Pleasant Mayoral Forum hosted by the League of Women Voters. This allows them to ask questions, have civil discussions about positions and differences, and refine their critical thinking skills by making up their own minds.  Students watched and discussed Vote America! Honor the Fight, Exercise Your Right, a 30 minute award-winning documentary produced by the Texas Young Lawyers Association that outlines the struggles of previous generations to guarantee the right to vote for all citizens) and gained perspective through a comparative approach by looking at other nations. To highlight the issue of voting rights, all of our High School students flew to Texas in January 2016, and this included a visit to the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library to gain a comprehensive perspective on the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  In January 2017, all of our Middle School students traveled to Alabama, and a key component was exploring the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute in Selma and walking over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of the Selma-to-Montgomery March for voting rights in March 1965. In mid-February 2016, groups of students had the chance to attend presidential events for Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump.  This gave them the chance to assess presidential candidates and how they present themselves. Click here for a flyer that describes our 2017 preparation and activities.

Sharing Our Results - We like to use our results to predict the outcome.  However, the students also have learned that exit polls can affect voter behavior if they are released before the end of voting.  Therefore, our results are compiled but not released to our community and beyond until after the polls close. 

WCBD-2 featured our efforts ("Lowcountry students conduct exit polling following elections") and the Island Eye News spotlighted our canvassing of the Isle of Palms races ("Students Learn Through Exit Polling") you can read more and compare our predictions to the actual results here.

Here are our predictions and some of our survey results (for comparison, actual results in red)

- Will Haynie (63%) defeats Linda Page (37%), sweeping all 13 polling locations.

- Tom O’Rourke (15.7%) and Gary Santos (14.5%) win seats.
- The contest for final two seats is too close to call among G.M. Whitley (12.8%), Kathy Landing (12.8%) and Kevin Cunnane (12.3%).

(1) What is the single most important problem facing Mount Pleasant (that is, the one you would like to see be resolved by the Mayor and Town Council)?
--- similar to the same survey that we administer every two years, Traffic/Transportation is still the #1 issue.

64.1%    Traffic/Transportation [60.6% in 2015, 26.6% in 2013, 46.2% in 2009]
7.8%      Environment
7.3%      Open/transparent government
5.4%      Education/schools
3.9%      Taxes
3.6%      Other (Affordable Housing leading mention)
3.5%      Economy/jobs/unemployment
2.7%      Funding of municipal operations
2.5%      Services for Seniors/retirees
1.6%      Recreation
1.1%      Crime

(2) Please rate the following on scale of 1-10 (1 is the lowest and 10 is the highest)
8.3          The quality of life in Mt. Pleasant (down .5 from 2015)
6.4          Mt. Pleasant's government (down 1 point from 2015)
6.4          Charleston County's government (unchanged)
5.9           South Carolina's government (unchanged)
5.3           United States' government (up 1 point from 2015)

Full exit polling results
Haynie 553 (63%) (actual 56%)
Page 325 (37%) (actual 33.9%)

(sorted by results gathered)
Tom O’Rourke (478, 15.7%) (actual 15.7%)
Gary Santos (441, 14.5%) (actual 15.3%)
G. M. Whitley (390, 12.8%) (actual 12.8%)
Kathy Landing (389, 12.8%) (actual 13.1%)
Kevin Cunnane (373, 12.3%) (actual 11.5%)
Rodley Millet (272, 9.0%) (actual 8.2%)
Brooks Davis (238, 8.7%) (actual 8.9%)
John Mahoney (217, 7.1%) (actual 7.4%)
John Wright (149, 4.9%) (actual 5.2%)
Sean Barnes (62, 2.0%) (actual 1.7%)
Other (1, 0%) (actual .3%)

* 878 completed exit poll surveys from the 13 following locations:
National Guard Armory, Brickyard Community Center, Moultrie Middle School, Christ Church, Wando, Greater Goodwill AME, Jones Recreation Center, Mt. Pleasant Municipal Complex, Trident Academy, Mt. Pleasant Park West Rec Center, East Cooper Montessori Charter, Eastbridge Presbyterian Church, Seacoast Church

- Jimmy Carroll (62%) (actual 58.9%) defeats Dick Cronin (38%) (actual 40.8%), winning at both polling locations where we surveyed in both the morning and mid-day.

- Susan Hill Smith (14.3%), Randy Bell (13.7%), Ryan Buckhannon (11.7%), and John Moye (11.6%) are elected.

(sorted by results gathered)
Susan Hill Smith (118, 14.3%) (actual 14.9%)
Randy Bell (113, 13.7%) (actual 12.8%)
Ryan Buckhannon (97, 11.7%) (actual 11.4%)
John Moye (96, 11.6%) (actual 11.5%)
Jonathan Gandolfo (82, 9.9%) (actual 10.7%)
Michael G. Loftus (72, 8.7%) (actual 7.9%)
Barbara Bergwerf (67, 8.1%) (actual 7.8%)
Justin D. Miklas (54, 6.5%) (actual 6.4%)
Patrick Harrington (53, 6.4%) (actual 5.3%)
Ralph B. Piening (44, 5.3%) (actual 6.1%)
Rusty Williamson (29, 3.5%) (actual 4.9%)
Other (2, 0.2%) (actual .2%)

* 242 completed exit poll surveys from both voting locations on Isle of Palms (Rec Center and City Hall).

- The bond referendum is defeated (68.9% to 31.1%) (actual 68.7 to 31.3% opposed) , losing at both polling locations where we surveyed in both the morning and mid-day.

(1) What is the single most important problem facing Isle of Palms (that is, the one you would like to see be resolved by the Mayor and City Council)?

33.1%    Traffic/Transportation
20.2%    Funding of municipal operations
20.2%    Environment
7.7%      Open/transparent government
6.9%      Recreation
5.6%      Services for Seniors/retirees
1.3%      Other (Affordable Housing leading mention)
2.6%      Taxes
0.9%      Education/schools
0.9%      Economy/jobs/unemployment
0.9%      Crime

(2) Please rate the following on scale of 1-10 (1 is the lowest and 10 is the highest)
9.1          The quality of life in Isle of Palms
7.3          Isle of Palm’s government
6.5          Charleston County's government
6.0           South Carolina's government
5.8           United States' government

Prediction - most of our attention was focused on Mt. Pleasant and Isle of Palms. However, we visited 8 polling locations in Charleston get a sense of the Affordable Housing Referendum. We feel it will pass easily as it did in all 8 locations. (actual 70.3 to 29.7% in favor)