Woodrow Wilson Fellow in Residence
Peter D. Hart
Leading Pollster and Public Opinion Expert
February 8 – 12, 2016
“The Mood of America 2016: The Presidential Race”
Shaw Hall, Younts Conference Center, Furman University
7 p.m., Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Peter D. Hart was on Furman’s campus from February 8 – 12, 2016, as a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. Throughout the week, he led nine classes and enjoyed small group meals with faculty and students. He also hosted two focus group sessions: one for Republican primary voters in the Upstate regarding the upcoming South Carolina primary and one with Furman students to learn what matters to them.
Peter Hart’s public address The Mood of America 2016: The Presidential Race was highly engaging and enjoyed by nearly 400 students, faculty, and members of the Upstate community. Peter was introduced by former two term governor and U.S. Secretary of Education Dick Riley, with whom he worked closely in Riley’s first race for governor of South Carolina. His talk focused on the changing political climate in America and the underlying anger and anxiety that are boosting the appeal of the ‘outsider’–whether Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders–in primary voting this election cycle.
Highlights of Peter’s visit to Furman University:
- Faculty breakfast with a lively discussion of this political season including projections of how or if the primary in South Carolina would change the direction of the presidential race.
- Furman Student Focus Group: Peter led 12 students in a focus group to determine what issues were important to them and what has affected the way they view the world and their place in it.
- Community Focus Group with Greenville Republican voters held at WYFF4 studios. The video was livestreamed. You may watch the recorded version at this link.
- Lunch with the Riley Institute Advance Team, which evolved into an informal focus group about their thoughts on politics
- Dinner with the Hollingsworth and Townes scholars
- Lectures and interactive discussions in sociology, political science, and business classes
- Meeting local citizens while enjoying lunch with students at Tommy’s Ham House and the original Stax diner.
Peter was considered by students and faculty to be among the very best visitors to come to Furman. Here are two of the many positive comments from students:
Julia Roberts: “Peter Hart possesses the rare combination of both intellectual brilliance and compassion for others. His faith in the people of the United States left a permanent and hopeful impression on me!”
John Bleed: “I was so fascinated by how personable he was, and how interested he was to hear every individual’s opinion no matter where he went. He really seemed to understand the hearts and minds of American voters.”
About Peter Hart
Peter Hart is regarded as one of the top analysts of public opinion in the United States. He is a leading shaper of national trends and political messages. He founded Hart Research in 1971, and since 1989 has been the pollster for NBC News and The Wall Street Journal. His political clients have included leaders in the forefront of American politics over the past half century, from Hubert Humphrey and Jay Rockefeller, to Edward Kennedy and Bill Clinton. He has represented more than 55 U.S. senators and 40 governors. His work with Hart Research has focused on public policy and cultural issues and has included work for clients such as the Smithsonian Institution, Habitat for Humanity, UNICEF, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In the international realm, he has conducted studies in South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. He has conducted strategy planning projects for clients such as Coca-Cola, AT&T, and Tiffany & Co. The National Journal named Peter as one of its 150 national leaders who shape federal government policy.
He has one grandson William (Will) David Hart Friedman, and other less critical family members like a wife and two children.