Summer Centered: Jonny Flieder ’25 Analyzes the Psychology of Swing Voters
Jonny Flieder '25 explored issues related to politics and public policy at Engagious, a research firm founded by Haverford alum Rich Thau '87.
Everyone has opinions, but only some take the time to interrogate them. This summer, Jonny Flieder ’25 has gone deep into the world of opinion as a research intern at Engagious, a research firm that uses social psychology and behavioral science to analyze focus groups, surveys, and in-depth interviews that reveal the perspectives of the American public.
Working alongside Rich Thau ’87, the company’s president and founder, Flieder has taken part in focus groups and studied Americans’ opinions on issues as wide-ranging as the 2024 presidential election and foreign homeownership. Engagious works with clients including corporations, trade associations, and think tanks to help shape messaging campaigns, giving Flieder a chance to explore issues relating to politics and public policy from a variety of angles. His internship was supported by the Center for Career and Professional Advising.
“I’m really interested in psychology, and our focus-groups and messaging is all about getting in the heads of our participants,” Flieder said. “While polling may tell you what people think, our work tells you why people think that way.”
Flieder was attracted to Engagious, in part, by the company’s work on the Swing Voter Project, alongside Sago and Axios. The project is conducting monthly focus groups with adults who live in the 10 most hotly contested states in the 2020 election and flipped their vote from Donald Trump in 2016 to Joe Biden in 2020, seeking to better understand the perspectives of this critical segment of the voting public.
“I think this type of work is not just interesting, but also important,” Flieder said. “With the 2024 presidential election coming up, our work with the Swing Voter Project is extremely valuable.”
Flieder was able to join Thau on a business trip to Washington, D.C., where he sat in on meetings with trade associations, watched Thau give a presentation to lobbyists about climate change and clean energy, and visited the Library of Congress to conduct research on trade associations.
In addition to expanding his understanding of the world of politics and public policy, the internship gave Flieder a window into what it looks like to work within a small business. Engagious only has three full-time staff members, he said, and that means everyone needs to work hard to keep things running smoothly. For his part, Flieder developed a comfort with multi-tasking as he strengthened his writing and analysis. He was able to blend the qualitative and the quantitative in his work with Engagious, creating visuals and graphs to dissect the information in the homeownership survey, among other projects.
“I know now that I should pursue a career where I can leverage my writing skills in an analytical environment,” Flieder said.