Mileah Kromer had thought of everything. Or so she thought. She had sharpened her political polling and branding skills under Elon University professor Hunter Bacot, who’d developed a national reputation for excellence as the director of the North Carolina school’s renowned polling operation. Hired by Goucher College to direct the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center and launch Goucher’s own Maryland polling operation in 2012, Kromer had done an enormous amount of work to get the school’s first-ever poll out a week before the elections that fall. Beyond the careful formulation of questions and statistical modeling, she built a phone center on campus from scratch and hired and trained students to make calls, all while maintaining a full-time teaching schedule. The stakes were high, too. Included in that inaugural poll were questions about same-sex marriage and the expansion of casino gambling, which were both on the ballot. Also in that first Goucher Poll were a host of questions about how Marylanders felt about undocumented immigrants. Should they be able to pay in-state tuition? Should they be allowed to keep their jobs and pursue a path toward U.S. citizenship? So, too, were favorability queries about President Barack Obama, challenger Mitt Romney, and Governor Martin O’Malley.
Kromer spent days tabulating the results and quadruple-checking the numbers, and then crafted a press release. She took a deep breath, and a week before the election, hit “send” to a long list of local news organizations and media contacts on Monday morning as planned. But there was one thing she hadn’t considered: Superstorm Sandy hit Baltimore that same morning. Sort of. The city basically escaped unscathed. Not that you would’ve known it from television coverage.
“I was watching WBAL that morning and the whole time, they’ve got someone down at the Inner Harbor saying, ‘It’s windy, it’s very windy,’ but meanwhile nothing is really happening,” Kromer recalls. “I’m like, ‘C’mon, you can cut away for two minutes and show the results of the poll.’ They never did. More shots of the wind. It was so frustrating. Everyone had done so much work. A couple of days later, I heard from [Daily Record reporter] Bryan Sears, who was then at Patch.com. He said, ‘I saw you released a poll.’ He was the only reporter who called. To do all that work and then it was like nothing happened. It was so frustrating. I was like, ‘Never again.’
“Now I check the weather along with everything else.”
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