Skip to Main Content

Center for Public Opinion

New Initiative to Co-host First Senatorial Debate of Election Season


UMass Lowell launched its Center for Public Opinion today, announcing plans for political polling and an Oct. 4 debate between all of the declared Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Scott Brown. 

The debate will be the day after the release of the center’s first public opinion poll. Both the debate and the poll are the results of a partnership between UMass Lowell and the Boston Herald. The Boston Herald-UMass Lowell poll is expected to offer a revealing look at how Massachusetts voters feel about the senate candidates, elected officials’ job performance, critical issues facing the Commonwealth and more.

“The Center for Public Opinion will advance understanding of government, societal issues and the political process and encourage civic engagement among our students to help them achieve the well-rounded education that will make them world-ready when they graduate,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. “Through our new partnership with the Boston Herald, the center’s polling research will be communicated to hundreds of people across the region and the debate will offer the first opportunity for the public to hear the candidates engage in an exciting, vigorous discussion of the issues.”

“We are excited about teaming our great political reporters with the students and faculty at UMass Lowell to cover the senate and presidential campaigns in an ambitious, cutting-edge way. This partnership will help make the voices of young people heard in our political process and help us to best inform our readers,” said Joe Sciacca, editor-in-chief of Boston Herald.

The Tuesday, Oct. 4 debate is scheduled to include the six candidates who have declared their intention to run for the Senate seat in the 2012 Democratic primary election in Massachusetts. A panel of UMass Lowell student leaders and a university focus group will question the candidates on key issues. Meehan, who represented Massachusetts’ Fifth District in Congress for 14 years, will serve as the moderator.

Candidates who have confirmed they will participate in the debate are Tom Conroy, Marisa DeFranco, Alan Khazei, Bob Massie, Herb Robinson and Setti Warren. Elizabeth Warren, who plans to announce her candidacy today, has been invited to participate. The debate, presented in conjunction with the UMass Lowell Political Science Club, is open to the public and will be held at 7 p.m. at Durgin Hall, UMass Lowell South Campus, 35 Wilder St., Lowell. It will be streamed live by the Boston Herald at and UMass Lowell at The public can also participate via Twitter with the hashtag “#UMLdebate.” 

“It is our belief at UMass Lowell that students learn more by applying the lessons of the classroom in real-world experiences,” said Prof. Frank Talty, director of the Center for Public Opinion. “We anticipate many of our students, representing all academic areas of the University, will play an important role in this first debate.”

The center will combine cross-disciplinary academic research into public opinion trends and behaviors with distinctive, revealing polling conducted with integrity and methodological rigor. Polling will examine political, social, economic and cultural issues and all polls will be conducted by an independent survey researcher. Mike Mokrzycki – former head of polling for the Associated Press who now works with clients including ABC News, NBC News, the Washington Post and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life – has been engaged for the first Boston Herald-UMass Lowell poll.

For more information, visit the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion at

UMass Lowell is a comprehensive, national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its 15,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering, education, fine arts, health and environment, humanities, liberal arts, management, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers.

Christine Gillette