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Alicia Simmons to Deliver Lecture on Polling and the 2024 Election The professor and pollster will discuss applied sociology methods in her March 19 talk.

Alicia-Simmons-47-3-233x350 Alicia Simmons to Deliver Lecture on Polling and the 2024 Election

Alicia Simmons, vice president at Hart Research, will deliver a lecture titled “Applied Social Science: Polling and the 2024 Election” at Washington and Lee University at 5 p.m. on March 19 in Leyburn Library 119.

The lecture is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology (SOAN) and the Data Science Program. The event is part of the SOAN Matters series, which aims to give current SOAN students advice about marketing their degrees and make them aware of the opportunities available to them.

In her talk, Simmons will illustrate a case of applied social science by giving a behind-the-scenes look into how public opinion polls are conducted. She will also break down what current polls are teaching us about the 2024 election. Through real-world examples, her talk will boost attendees’ confidence when it comes to identifying and interpreting high-quality polls and will provide valuable insight into our current political climate.

Simmons works primarily in the political and advocacy sectors at Hart Research, a firm that conducts public opinion research for candidates for public office, advocacy organizations, trade associations, foundations and corporations. Her clients include the Center for American Progress, Priorities USA, EMILY’s List, the Black Economic Alliance and UNCF. She is also an associate professor of sociology and Africana & Latin American studies at Colgate University.

As a social psychologist, Simmons examines the intersections of media, race and politics in the United States. She studies the nature of Americans’ racial attitudes toward Black people and their opinions about public policies that invoke race, and she explores how these attitudes are created, triggered, altered and reinforced by news media. Her interdisciplinary work incorporates sociology, psychology, communications, political science and racial/ethnic studies and involves a range of methods including surveys, experiments and content analysis.

“Hearing from Professor Simmons is a great opportunity for students who are interested in applied sociology — or any applied social science or data science — to explore what kind of career opportunities are available post-graduation,” said Lynn Chin, associate professor of sociology and co-organizer of the event with Dan Johnson, the David G. Elmes Term Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Science and director of the Data Science Program. “Simmons has great insight into how students can build up their quantitative and qualitative academic backgrounds so they can translate them into a career that aligns with their research interests.”

Chin appreciates the wide range of Simmons’ work and was inspired to invite her to W&L’s campus after talking to Simmons about her daily life as a pollster for the Democratic Party.

“I hadn’t realized how much teamwork — including between pollsters of the different political parties — was involved in this line of work,” Chin said. “It was interesting to see how ‘academic’ work translated into ‘public’ work and how these results could be used by each of the parties.”

Simmons earned her bachelor’s degree from Hartwick College and her master’s degree and doctorate from Stanford University.