CHAPEL HILL-A local celebrity has been named to a national list of the nation’s most influential political figures.

Public Policy Polling President Tom Jensen is among the 36 most powerful people for 2012, according to the latest issue of Business Insider Magazine. Former President Bill Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg were also on the list—and Jensen says he’s humbled to join their likes.

“I don’t really think I’m one of the 36 most powerful people in the country. I’m not even sure I’m on of the 36 most powerful people in Chapel Hill. I think that it’s sort of a sign that as a polling company we’ve really tried to do things differently and be innovative in the way that we do things.”

Since 2001, Public Policy Polling has polled thousands of residents nationwide on various political topics. During last year’s election season, the company faced controversy, after some Republicans said its surveys were showing favoritism toward Barack Obama. On hindsight, Jensen says the contention might have put his name in the spotlight.

“When as a polling company you’re becoming a target, and usually polling companies just kind of put out the polls and people look at them and that’s that, it raises the level of awareness of what we’re doing. And then when it turned out that we were actually correct to have shown Obama doing better than most of the other polling did, that sort of gives you some credibility.”

Public Policy Polling managed to correctly project who would take the presidential race in all 50 states, and has since been rated the most accurate pollster in the presidential campaign. Jensen says the company’s staff members have always been confident in their abilities.

“It’s definitely a nice conformation that we’re polling more than any other company in the nation, and that those polls did turn out to be accurate. A lot of companies can do accurate polls and a lot of companies can do a lot of polls, but it’s hard to do a lot of polls and be accurate. I think that we managed to reach that balance.”

Click here for the full list of Business Insider’s most powerful people of 2012.