George Gallup, Jr. (1930-2011) was an American pollster and executive of The Gallup Organization known for leading the company after his father and for measuring American’s attitudes towards religion.
Born in Evanston, Illinois in 1930 while his father attended Northwestern University’s School of Journalism, Gallup initially considered a career as an Episcopalian priest. He graduated with a degree in religion from Princeton University in 1953 and moved to Texas to work in a ministry on Galveston Island. Yet, he soon left this profession to join his father’s polling business in 1954, serving as an executive until his retirement in 2004. Known around the office as “Junior”, Gallup first worked on surveying Americans on schools, families, and institutions. He found that America, especially after the Watergate Scandal, was very much disillusioned. Around this time, he also convinced The Gallup Organization to begin polling Americans for their views on religion and spirituality. This included questions pertaining to views on organized religion to religious teachings and practices. Gallup pioneered the public opinion study of religion, starting a practice that has now become common. In 1977, George founded the Princeton Religion Research Center with Miriam Murphy, a sociologist and nun, to research religion through polling. Gallup used these religious surveys as the basis for several of his books, most notably The Search for America’s Faith and The Saints Among Us.
Upon his father’s death in 1984, Gallup became Co-Chairman of The Gallup Organization with his brother Alec. In 1988, the Gallup family sold their company to Selection Research, a market research firm based in Nebraska. Selection Research retained the Gallup name for the company and the two brothers, George Jr. and Alec, continued to work for the organization. George Gallup used the sale to start a non-profit organization called the George H. Gallup Organization, which searches for solutions to special problems in the polling industry. In his later years, Gallup continued to work on furthering the polling industry, giving seminars on polling and also giving an interview about his father’s impact in a 2000 PBS documentary.