Pioneers of Polling
Kenneth Bancroft Clark (1914-2005) was an influential psychologist and professor, perhaps best known for his “doll” experiments with his wife Mamie Clark on the impacts of racial segregation on attitudes towards race in America. Their work played an important role in the Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision to desegregate the nation.
For the 1936 presidential election, Crossley and his associates were hired by Hearst Publications to conduct polls. Crossley, along with contemporary pioneers Elmo Roper and George Gallup, correctly predicted a landslide Roosevelt victory, going against his former employer Literary Digest...
Dinerman was secretary-treasurer of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, one of the first female members of the Market Research Council, and was a member of both the American Sociological Association and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues ...
W.E.B. Du Bois
One of the earliest systematic attempts to measure the attitudes and experiences of Black Americans was conducted by pioneering sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois in 1896-1897, with the assistance of Isabel Eaton, an activist and sociologist whose research had focused on domestic workers.
Henry William Durant (1902–1982) founded and ran the British Institute of Public Opinion (BIPO) from 1937-1968. BIPO was the first overseas Gallup affiliate, a business model that Gallup would go on to expand throughout the 20th century. Durant was one of the earliest founders of the field of British public opinion research and enabled the dissemination of scientific polling techniques across Europe during the formative years of polling.
In 1941 Harry Field established The National Opinion Research Center (NORC), the first non-profit polling service in the world. NORC quickly rose to prominence and during the Second World War it was called upon by the United States Government to undertake almost 100 studies ...
Andrew Kohut was the Founding Director of the Pew Research Center, serving as Director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press from 1993-2012 and as the Pew Research Center President from 2004-2012. Under his leadership, Pew established an expansive research agenda...
Sam Lubell’s approach to predicting elections involved analyzing a small but important number of precincts in a state to allow him to predict how the entire state would vote, allowing him to correctly predict a landslide victory for Dwight Eisenhower in the 1952 presidential election by looking at the results from three precincts in Richmond, Virginia ...
Harry O’Neill (1929-2008) was a distinguished American pollster. A founding member of the National Council on Public Polls, O’Neill served as its president from 1985 to 1994. He also chaired the Roper Center's Board of Directors, and helped direct the future course of the Center.
Hélène Riffault (1921-2001) was a leading figure in European public opinion research. She was a graduate of the renowned HEC Paris business school. In 1938, she co-founded, with Jean Stoetzel, the Institut Français d'Opinion Publique (IFOP). IFOP was the first polling firm in France and one of the first in the world, undertaking seminal research on political and social issues.
Elmo Roper did his first customer research while employed by the Traub Company in the early 1930s, trying to find out why their products were not selling better, and in 1933 he co-founded one of the first market research firms, Cherington, Wood, and Roper. In 1935, Roper became director of the Fortune Survey, the first national poll based on scientific sampling techniques ...
Burns "Bud" Roper
Burns “Bud” Roper (1925-2003) was an influential figure in the areas of market research and public opinion polling. Born in Iowa on 26 February 1925, he was the elder son of public opinion pioneer Elmo Roper. While Burns considered careers as a labor leader and architect after WWII, he eventually decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and became an important member of the Roper polling organization...
Singer edited Public Opinion Quarterly from 1975 to 1986, and with several co-authors wrote the textbook Survey Methodology. From 1987 to 1989 she was president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research and in 1996 was presented their lifetime achievement award ...
Shirley A. Star (1918-1976) was a major contributor to the development of quantitative social research methodology. She is known for her research on public perceptions of mental health, for developing innovative narratives used to portray various types of psychological issues, as well as her studies in race relations.
Jean Stoetzel was a French sociologist who founded the Institut français d'opinion publique (IFOP) in 1938. He is credited as one of the earliest Europeans to recognize the importance of the polling techniques being developed by Gallup and contemporaries in the mid-1930s, and in 1939 Stoetzel polled the French public in regards to their opinions of Germany.