Benjamin J Toff

Photo of Benjamin J Toff

Contact Me

Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication
206 Church St SE
227 Murphy Hall

Benjamin Toff is an assistant professor at the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a faculty affiliate of the Center for the Study of Political Psychology and the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. He studies media audiences and political engagement, public opinion, and changing journalistic practices. From 2016-2017, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford where he led an ongoing project examining the media habits of people who largely avoid the news. He is also working on separate a book project exploring the changing role played by opinion polls in news coverage of American politics. This work extends research conducted as part of his doctoral dissertation, which received the American Political Science Association’s E.E. Schattschneider Award for best doctoral dissertation in the field of American government. His work has been published in the Journal of Communication, Perspectives on Politics, Political Communication, the International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Research and Politics, Journalism, and Journalism Studies. He received his PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016 and a BA in social studies from Harvard in 2005. Prior to entering academia, he worked as a journalist and researcher at The New York Times.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2016.
  • M.A.: Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2012.
  • B.A.: Social Studies, Harvard University, 2005.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Public opinion and polling
  • News audiences
  • Political communication
  • Political engagement
Courses Taught
  • JOUR 3796: Media and Politics
  • JOUR 5501: Communication, Public Opinion, and Social Media
  • JOUR 8661: Seminar: Mediated Political Communication in the Digital Age
  • Horse-Race and Game-Framed Journalism’s Effects on Turnout, Vote Choice, and Attitudes toward Politics: Toff, Benjamin, Oxford Handbook of Electoral Persuasion, 2019. Link
  • The 'Nate Silver effect' on political journalism: Gatecrashers, gatekeepers, and changing newsroom practices around coverage of public opinion polls: Toff, Benjamin, Journalism, 20 873-889, 2019. Link
  • "I Just Google It": Folk Theories of Distributed Discovery: Toff, Benjamin, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Journal of Communication, 68 636-657, 2018. Link
  • Rethinking the Debate Over Recent Polling Failures: Toff, Benjamin, Political Communication, 35 327-332, 2018. Link
  • The Fact of Experience: Rethinking Political Knowledge and Civic Competence: Toff, Benjamin, Katherine J. Cramer, Perspectives on Politics, 15 754-770, 2017. Link
  • Grant-in-Aid of Research, University of Minnesota, 2019 - 2020
  • Heinz Eulau Award, Best Paper Published in Perspectives on Politics, American Political Science Association, 2018 - 2018
  • E.E. Schattschneider Award, Best Doctoral Dissertation in the Field of American Government, American Political Science Association, 2018
  • Thomas Patterson Dissertation Award, American Political Science Association Political Communication Division, 2017