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Education Policy Fellowship Program

The Impact of Polling on the Policy Process
& The Role of Think Tanks

April 17, 2000
2:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Kellogg Center, MSU

This session will examine how public policy is shaped from two perspectives: The Impact of Polling & The Role of Think Tanks. Participants will explore the role of think tanks and other organizations which work at the intersection of politics and policy. This session will examine how public policy is shaped by opinion polling, how organizations sample public opinion, and how business and political leaders use this information in the policy debate. Part of the discussion will focus on exit polling and explore how elections can be "called" prior to the polls closing.


Session A Resource Person: The Impact of Polling on the Policy Process

Mr. Ed Sarpolus
Vice President
4710 W. Saginaw
Lansing, MI

Ed Sarpolus is credited with playing a major role in making EPIC x MRA the most quoted source of survey research in Michigan, as well as a regularly quoted source by national media outlets and publications, particularly on issues of international trade. Major clients include the Detroit Free Press with more than 600,000 daily readers, the Lansing State Journal, Oakland Press, the Flint Journal, as well as most television news outlets in Michigan, including WXYZ- ABC TV-7 in Detroit, ABC TV-12 in Flint, WOOD TV-8 in Grand Rapids, TV-5 in Saginaw, WLNS TV-6 in Lansing and WILX TV-10, also in Lansing. Election day exit polling conducted by EPIC x MRA is not only covered by print media clients, but television coverage of election day survey results covers more than three quarters of Michigan's viewing audience.

Other EPIC x MRA research on major topics of public interest, as well as election polling results, are regularly covered not only by Michigan media outlets, but also by national outlets. Sarpolus has appeared as a commentator on PBS, CNN World News, Inside Politics-CNN, MSNBC, Nightline, ABC and NBC News. Sarpolus has also been regularly interviewed by Michigan radio stations and NPR, quoted in most major national publications including Time, U.S. News and World Report, Business Week, the Washington Post, New York Times, Boston Globe and the National Journal. EPIC x MRA research results and commentary by Sarpolus has also been a regular contributor to the Polling Report, The Hotline, and Congress Daily. Finally, because his extensive experience on trade issues, Sarpolus has been a featured speaker for groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations and Consumers for World Trade.

Session B Resource Persons: The Role of Think Tanks

Mr. Jeff Padden
Public Policy Associates
119 Pere Marquette Drive
Lansing, MI 48912-1231

Mr. Joseph Overton
Senior Vice President
Mackinac Center for Public Policy
140 West Main Street
P.O. Box 568
Midland, Michigan 48640

Joseph Overton is Senior Vice President of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, an independent, non-profit research and educational organization located in Midland, Michigan. At the Center, Mr. Overton directs research projects, staff operations, and strategic planning. He has also written a variety of Center studies and commentaries.

Mr. Overton holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Technological University and a Juris Doctor degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, and was appointed by Governor John Engler to the Michigan Appellate Defender Commission upon recommendation by the Michigan Supreme Court. He currently serves a term expiring in 2003.

Before joining the Mackinac Center, Mr. Overton held a variety of positions at The Dow Chemical Company, including Electrical Engineer, Project Manager, and Quality Specialist. Mr. Overton has been involved in studying and promoting free market principles for over a decade. His work has taken him to Poland, Nicaragua, the People's Republic of China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Colombia, Malawi, Mozambique, Greece, Italy, Slovenia and Croatia.

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