About the Center

The Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics (MCAP) began operations in July 2010. Inspired by the mission of Mercyhurst University and guided by the college’s core values, the center promotes reasoned discourse about problems facing communities, states and nations. It accomplishes this objective by providing elected officials, government agencies, news organizations, and nonprofits with accurate and unbiased assessments of public opinion; and offering a nonpartisan forum for public debates and roundtable discussions that address pressing public problems.

Public Opinion Polling

The centerpiece of MCAP is the state of the art computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) facility. The facility, which is located in the Center for Academic Engagement, is comprised of thirty one interviewer stations and staffed by well-trained research associates. The specialized computer software used to conduct telephone interviews generates random telephone numbers in a predefined geographic area and allows research associates to accurately complete even the most complex interviews.

When operating at capacity, the facility generates 40 ten minute interviews per hour. This means that the center can generate interviews for a sample of 400 residents of a particular community in only ten hours. In other words, in just ten hours the center can report, with 95% confidence, what percentage of residents (plus or minus 5%) favor or oppose a particular position or policy. In just a few additional hours, the center can produce even more accurate results.

The center also has the ability to design and administer online surveys. This method of interviewing is ideal for organizations that have relatively up-to-date email addresses for their members. The software used by MCAP allows a researcher to administer a survey - whether short and simple or long and complex – to an unlimited number of email addresses. In addition, a researcher has the ability to monitor response rates and send out reminders, thereby ensuring that the study produces high quality results.

As the Northwestern Pennsylvania’s only CATI facility whose primary purpose is to regularly and accurately gauge public opinion, the MCAP is an invaluable resource community leaders. Each year the center conducts polls on issues of local, state and nations interest. The results of these studies are made available to the public via the university’s webpage. In addition to its annual polls, the center offers its services to private parties, nonprofits, news organizations, and government agencies for minimal cost.

Click here to see the latest MCAP Polls results. 

Public Affairs Forum

In addition to public opinion polling, MCAP promotes reasoned discourse about contemporary public issues by providing residents and community leaders of Northwestern Pennsylvania with an unrivaled opportunity to learn about, discuss, debate, and prepare to resolve the challenges facing the region, state and nation. The Public Affairs Forum offers a nonpartisan environment where elected officials, academicians and business leaders may address a wide range of social, political and economic issues, and where the public has the opportunity participate in the discussion. Consistent with the mission and core values of Mercyhurst University, the Public Affairs Forum directly confronts even the most controversial issues.