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Civic Ed
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"State polls can give a clearer sense of voters' priorities before and between elections," argues Daniel R. Birdsong.

Want to know what will happen in 2020? Look to state polls

Birdsong is a lecturer in political science at the University of Dayton.

Public opinion polls are ingrained in American politics. It seems like every day there is a new poll about the presidential election or impeachment or whether the public feels that the United States is on the right track.

As the presidential primary season begins in earnest in February, new polls will continue to come out. All polls can provide a wealth of information. But, as a political scientist, I think that if you want to better understand the American public, it would be good practice to look at state polls.

The Constitution created not only a system of shared power within the branches of the national government, but also a system of shared power between the states and national government.

So, one should not assume, like national polls often do, that social and political problems are national in scope and should be addressed by the national government. Many issues, like policing, school funding and mass transit, fall under the purview of the state and local authorities.

Additionally, social and political problems vary in their importance from national to state and from state to state.

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