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2 local HS students create nationally recognized polling site

Meet the Pa. teenagers running their own political polls
Meet the Pa. teenagers running their own political polls 03:08

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Midterm election may be behind us, but there are some young pollsters preparing to exercise their right to vote.

On this week's Focusing on the Future, CBS Philadelphia's Wakisha Bailey caught up with them. 

If there's anything we've learned from the midterms, it's that Millennials and Generation Z are having a significant role in the election process, even down to polling. 

"Big miss in 2016, big miss in 2020 and we thought if these professional pollsters are getting it wrong, we might get it right," Chief Political Director Lucca Ruggieri said.

Ruggieri, from Chester County, is a 17-year-old with a passion for politics and his partner is 16-year-old Arhan Kaul, from Montgomery County. 

Kaul is the chief polling director. 

"I'm more interested in data statistics, but I try to keep up with politics and political events," Kaul said. 

The two formed the company Patriot Polling

It's a non-partisan organization that uses a third-party cold-calling system to survey voters across the nation. 

"Polls have been terribly off for the last couple of cycles," Ruggieri said. "We started joking around about that."

The two joked they should start their own polling and Kaul says the idea went from zero to 60. 

After less than a year up and running and close to a dozen poll analyses, one titled "Hochul leads Zeldin by only 5% in the New York Governor Race" received national attention. 

"It was sort of an upset at how close it was, because New York has been historically this solidly blue state and Republicans came within 5.5% of winning it this year and we were one of the few polls to get that," Ruggieri said. 

From being recognized by Nate Silver, owner of 538, and the New York Times, those achievements were no sweat in comparison to being selected as part of the elite high schoolers in the Germination Project where these two met. 

"The interviews are the toughest thing I ever did in my whole life," Kaul said. 

Germination is taking something and giving it the ability to grow, sprout and flourish. 

"To change the soil so we have a more equitable and sustainable city like we use to have back in the old days," Ajay Raju said. 

Raju is the chairman of the Germination Project, and formed the nonprofit with his daughter to inspire the next generation of emerging leaders in Philadelphia, from introducing students to leaders in business like on Wall Street to speaking with doctors and scientists at the University of Pennsylvania.

"We select the best and the brightest at the 10th-grade level mainly because it's a lifetime fellowship," Raju said. "Today we are about 139 fellows."

That change for Lucca and Arhan began at the polls. 

"If you have a candidate you support but they are not polling very well, you might choose to support another candidate in order to beat the candidate you don't like," Ruggieri said. 

"If you know where your weak spots are, you can find your weak spots using stats and data analysis," Raul said.

Up next is the general election, a poll we will be watching out for. 

Know an outstanding high school senior that deserves recognition? Let us know by completing the form below and we may select the student to be featured in our "Focusing on the Future" series.

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