Happy Birthday, George Gallup

Since there has been so much focus on polling during this year’s election cycle, I thought it appropriate to commemorate the birthday of George Gallup, born November 18, 1901 in Jefferson, Iowa. Gallup was a pioneer of survey sampling methods and founded the Gallup public-opinion poll.

This is from The Writer’s Almanac of November 18, 2020 (https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-writers-almanac?) —

“Gallup enrolled in the University of Iowa in 1918, played football and became the editor of the Daily Iowan. While editor in the early 1920s, he conducted what is widely considered the first poll in human history. He took a survey to find the prettiest girl on the campus. The winner was Ophelia Smith, whom Gallup later married.

“From 1929 to 1931, he headed the Drake University School of Journalism, left to teach at Northwestern University and conduct newspaper research in the Chicago area, and in 1935 set up the American Institute of Public Opinion at Princeton University. While teaching and doing research, Gallup found that small samples of the populace could predict general attitudes. He gained recognition for accurately predicting Franklin Roosevelt’s victory over Alf Landon in 1936.

“Gallup’s biggest blunder, the prediction that Thomas Dewey would defeat Harry Truman in 1948, was a minor stumbling block. At one time, nearly 200 newspapers published his reports. At the height of his career, Gallup spoke out against the practice of exit polling in elections and advocated election reforms still being discussed today. Gallup died of a heart attack in 1984 at his summer home in Switzerland.”

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