Paul Nielson, Ph.D.
Mark Nielson, Ph.D.
ABOUT NIELSON BROTHERS POLLING
Nielson Brothers Polling (NBP) is an independent group
dedicated to a better understanding of public opinion.
NBP offers expert analysis and state-of-the-art
Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) technology to provide
a cost-effective choice for those seeking insight into
people’s preferences. Through the voices of respondents,
Nielson Brothers Polling contributes to the ability of
people and institutions to make informed decisions.
NBP uses a single digitally-recorded voice in conducting
interviews. This technique insures that every respondent
hears the same question from the same voice with the
identical inflection. Studies have shown respondents
answer more freely and with more candor to this type of
automated voice than to a live person on the other end
of the line. Calls are made randomly to phone numbers
from a preselected list. The process insures appropriate
geographic and demographic representation. Raw data from
completed calls is processed through a weighting program
that ensures the sample reflects the overall population.
NBP takes into account the impact words can have on survey
results and carefully designs questions to minimize bias.
NBP POLLING ACTIVITIES
Nielson Brothers Polling has conducted public and private
surveys for elections, ballot issues and public opinion,
both statewide and in municipalities in western and eastern
Since its founding in 2010, Nielson Brothers Polling has
performed more public polling in South Dakota than any other
national or South Dakota polling firm. NBP plans to continue
its public polling and use its growing database of voters’
opinions to track voter trends and provide insight into
STATEWIDE ELECTIONS and OPINION: SOUTH DAKOTA
MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS and OPINION
- US Representative
- South Dakota Governor
- Referred Law 12 (smoking ban)
- Initiative 13 (marijuana legalization)
- President Barack Obama
- U.S. Representative Kristi Noem
- Governor Dennis Daugaard
- Democratic candidates for US Congress
- organizational approval
- one percent sales tax increase support
- direction of South Dakota
Example: Rapid City
Rapid City general election June 7, 2011
Rapid City runoff election June 28, 2011
- Initiated Ordinance #1 & #2 (billboard restrictions)
- teachers’ salaries
- direction of Rapid City
Example: Sioux Falls
- Sioux Falls mayor and city council approval ratings
- direction of Sioux Falls
- opening of Grand Falls Casino attendance and competing SD casino
- Sioux Falls Convention Center location and approval
- teachers’ salaries
While NBP has become known as a reliable public source
of information about public opinion in South Dakota,
the firm also conducts private surveys. Clients have
shown their approval by rehiring NBP on a continuing
basis. NBP works with clients to create surveys designed
to provide the information the client needs. Following a
survey’s completion and analysis, NBP presents the data
and discusses the findings with the client. Data is
made available both in report form and as crosstabs.
A sample of the crosstabs is available on NBP’s website,
nielsonbrotherspolling.com, with password and ID given
upon request. NBP holds all private polling in strict
NBP IN THE NEWS
NBP is cited regularly by the press, including New York Times,
the Associated Press, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, the
Rapid City Journal, the Mitchell Daily Republic, KELO, KPLO,
KSFY, KDLT, KCPO television in Sioux Falls and KOTA
and KNBN television in Rapid City. NBP results are
frequently mentioned in political blogs - Madville Times,
South Dakota War College, and The Rapid City Journal's
Since its inception, NBP has proven to be a reliable
alternative to more traditional and expensive polling
options. NBP has demonstrated that collecting data with
Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) technology produces
dependable data and accurate results.
TESTED AND CONFIRMED FINDINGS
NBP’s final survey (of nine tracking polls) of the 2010
November general election estimated Kristi Noem would
defeat Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin by 2.5
per cent with a third candidate receiving 6.5 percent;
the official tally showed Kristi Noem won by 2.2 percent
with the third party candidate receiving 6 per cent.
Thus NBP presented the most accurate indication of this
election's outcome. Not only did NBP’s estimate closely
match the final margin, it was the only public polling
firm to accurately measure the third party candidate’s
In the same poll, NBP showed Initiated Measure 13
(more commonly know as the Marijuana Initiative) losing
by 29.9 percent. That measure officially failed by 28.2
percent on election day. NBP also showed that Dennis
Daugaard and Republican legislators as a group would win
handily, and that Referred Law 12 (the Smoking Ban) would
fail convincingly. These results were all confirmed by
NBP polled Rapid City’s June 7, 2011 Municipal election,
calling each race and two Ordinance Initiatives correctly.
In polling the subsequent Rapid City Municipal Runoff
election, NBP predicted the winner of the Ward 2 race
and showed the race for mayor to close to call - a result
confirmed by a 3.6 percent victory by the challenger.
NBP’s results have been confirmed by other public polling.
For instance both NBP and a later Argus Leader survey
asked Sioux Falls voters whether they planned to visit the
new Grand Falls Casino in Iowa. The NBP poll found 49.9% did
not plan to visit the casino. The later Argus Leader / Mason
Dixon poll found similar results, i.e. 49 percent would not visit.
When both polls asked whether Sioux Falls voters preferred
a downtown location for a events center, 19.2 percent chose
downtown in the NBP survey, compared with 20% in the Mason Dixon
Paul Nielson holds a doctorate in Ethics and Society
from the University of Chicago and a Masters of Divinity
from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He has
worked as a pastor in rural Minnesota and as a graduate
teacher. As president of NBP, Paul is head of survey
design and analysis and manages media and client
Mark Nielson holds a doctorate in economics and has taught
quantitative methods at the college and graduate levels.
He has worked with Nobel Prize winning economist Merton Miller.
He has worked on Wall Street as a financial economist and
contributes economic analysis to the Wall Street Journal on
a monthly basis. He consults in price theory, financial
economics, market microstructure and litigation economics.
The Nielson brothers graduated from Mitchell High School,
South Dakota, and contribute labor to a family farm.