Rolfe Peterson

Assistant Professor, Associate Director and Methodologist for the Mercyhurst, Center for Applied Politics

Preston 101

(814) 824-2026

Dr. Peterson’s research interests include American political behavior, survey research methods, public opinion, and campaigns and elections. He has experience at every stage of the research process and has frequently utilized surveys in his analysis. Using survey data from congressional and presidential elections, his doctoral research explored the ability of campaigns to encourage political activation, mobilize citizens, and shape voter attitudes.


Specialization: American Political Behavior, Survey Research Methods, Public Opinion, and Campaigns and Elections

 Dr. Rolfe Daus Peterson recently joined the political science faculty at Mercyhurst College after receiving his M.A. and PhD from the University of California at Davis. He serves as Associate Director at the Center for Applied Politics and methodologist for the Mercyhurst Poll.

While collaborating with Professor Walter Stone at UC Davis, Dr. Peterson helped design and implement the 2006 Challenger Emergence Study (CES). The 2006 CES is an informant-based survey from a sample of 150 congressional districts which uses party elites as district informants to garner expert opinion on the district and congressional election. The project utilized online, direct mail, and phone surveys. Using survey data from the project, Dr. Peterson co-authored a book chapter in Fault Lines: Why the Republicans Lost Congress (2009).

His current research project is a quantitative analysis exploring the choice of Members of Congress to adopt Twitter as a means of constituent contact, which he presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Western Political Science Association in San Francisco. In addition, using original data gathered at the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics, Dr. Peterson is exploring public opinion on former Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter and his recent high-profile switch to the Democratic Party.

While at UC Davis, Dr. Peterson was recognized for his teaching as well as research. He was one of three finalists for the 2009-2010 ASUCD Annual Teaching Award for Outstanding Instructor in the social sciences, a student-nominated, student-funded, and student-chosen award. As a Teaching Assistant while fulfilling his doctoral requirements, he was awarded the 2007 Marvin F. Zetterbaum Award given to the department graduate student who most exemplifies a passion and talent for teaching.

Rolfe Peterson was born and raised in Southeastern Idaho and received his bachelor of arts from the University of Idaho, where he served as sports editor for the school paper, The Argonaut. While at University of Idaho, he was inducted into the Pi Sigma Alpha national political science honor society and the Phi Beta Kappa national honor society.