Penn Undergrads and Decision 2020 (Video)

Students analyze data in the classroom and then bring their skills to NBC on election nights.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Video by Alex Schein

Additional filming by Lilly Dupuis

Political analysis requires data-savvy researchers, whether they are reporting polling data on election night or seeking to understand long-term policy impact. PORES—the Program on Opinion Research and Election Studies—is the place where Penn students learn the high-level analytic and technical skills that complex social science problems demand.


PORES, founded by John Lapinski, Robert A. Fox Leadership Professor of Political Science and Elections Unit Director at NBC News, is home to the University’s only dedicated minor in survey research and data analytics. It offers students opportunities to take their learning outside of the classroom, with fellowships that pair students and faculty to gather data and perform analyses on real-world issues, and a collaboration with NBC News that allows students to work at the Decision Desk during major elections.

“PORES fellows are really important on election night,” explains Michele Margolis, Assistant Professor of Political Science. “They come up to NBC with us, and we’re working on the exit polls. As survey results come in, they’re creating graphics that are circulated to the whole NBC organization.”

Ketaki Gujar, C’20, voted for the first time in the 2016 election. Now, she’s working behind the scenes at NBC. “We’re getting the data in real time, and we’re throwing it up on TV or online. There’s a pretty fast turnaround,” she says. “Being 21 years old and being able to do that before I’ve even graduated from college is an incredible opportunity.”