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...
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.
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 ...
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...
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.