George Gallup


George Horace Gallup (November 18, 1901 – July 26, 1984) was an American pioneer of survey sampling techniques and inventor of the
Gallup poll Gallup, Inc. is an American analytics and advisory company based in Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial on t ...
, a successful
statistical method Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data are units of information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers th ...

statistical method
survey samplingIn statistics, survey sampling describes the process of selecting a sample of elements from a target statistical population, population to conduct a survey. The term "Statistical survey, survey" may refer to many different types or techniques of obs ...
for measuring
public opinion Public opinion is the collective opinion on a specific topic or voting intention relevant to a society. Etymology The term "public opinion" was derived from the French ', which was first used in 1588 by Michel de Montaigne Image:ArmoiriesMi ...

Life and career

Gallup was born in
Jefferson, Iowa Jefferson is a city in Greene County, Iowa, United States, along the Raccoon River, North Raccoon River. The population was 4,182 at the time of the 2020 United States Census, 2020 census. It is the county seat of Greene County. It is the home of ...
, the son of Nettie Quella (Davenport) and George Henry Gallup, a dairy farmer. As a teen, George Jr., known then as "Ted", would deliver milk and used his salary to start a newspaper at the high school, where he also played football. His higher education took place at the
University of Iowa The University of Iowa (UI, U of I, UIowa, or simply Iowa) is a public university, public research university in Iowa City, Iowa. Founded in 1847, it is the oldest and the second-largest university in the state. The University of Iowa is organiz ...
, where he was a football player, a member of the Iowa Beta chapter of the
Sigma Alpha Epsilon Sigma Alpha Epsilon (), commonly known as SAE, is a North American Greek-letter social college Fraternities and sororities in North America, fraternity. It was founded at the University of Alabama on March 9, 1856. Of all existing national social ...
fraternity, and editor of ''
The Daily Iowan ''The Daily Iowan'' is an independent, 8,500-circulation daily student newspaper serving Iowa City and the University of Iowa community. It has consistently won a number of collegiate journalism awards, including six National Pacemaker Awards in ...
'', an independent newspaper which serves the university campus. He earned his B.A. in 1923, his M.A. in 1925 and his Ph.D. in 1928. He then moved to
Des Moines, Iowa Des Moines () is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lo ...
, where he served as head of the Department of Journalism at
Drake University Drake University is a private university in Des Moines, Iowa. It offers undergraduate and graduate programs, including professional programs in business, law, and pharmacy. Drake's law school is among the 25 oldest in the United States. Histo ...
until 1931. That year, he moved to
Evanston, Illinois Evanston ( ) is a near-in suburb of Chicago. Located in Cook County, Illinois, Cook County, Illinois, United States, it is situated on the North Shore (Chicago), North Shore along Lake Michigan. Evanston is north of Chicago Loop, Downtown Chicago ...
, as a professor of journalism and advertising at
Northwestern University Northwestern University is a Private university, private research university in Evanston, Illinois. Founded in 1851, Northwestern is the oldest chartered university in Illinois and is ranked among the most prestigious academic institutions in ...

Northwestern University
. The next year, he moved to
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from , or NYC for short, is the in the United States. With a 2020 population of 8,804,190 distributed over , New York City is also the major city in the United States. Located at the s ...

New York City
to join the advertising agency of Young and Rubicam as director of research (later serving as vice president from 1937 to 1947). He was also professor of journalism at
Columbia University Columbia University (also known as Columbia, and officially as Columbia University in the City of New York) is a in . Established in 1754 as King's College on the grounds of in , Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in and ...

Columbia University
, but he had to give up this position shortly after he formed his own polling company, the American Institute of Public Opinion (Gallup Poll), in 1935. Gallup is often credited as the developer of public polling. In 1932, Gallup did some polling for his mother-in-law,
Ola Babcock Miller
Ola Babcock Miller
, a candidate who was a long-shot from winning a position as
Iowa Secretary of State The Secretary of State of Iowa is the commissioner of elections of the U.S. state of Iowa. A constitutional officer, the officeholder is elected every four years. The Office of the Secretary of State is divided into four divisions: Elections and Vo ...
. With the Democratic landslide of that year, she won a stunning victory, furthering Gallup's interest in politics. In 1936, his new organization achieved national recognition by correctly predicting, from the replies of only 50,000 respondents, that
Franklin Roosevelt Franklin Delano Roosevelt (, ; January 30, 1882April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American politician who served as the 32nd president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is th ...
would defeat
Alf Landon Alfred Mossman Landon (September 9, 1887October 12, 1987) was an American politician who served as the List of Governors of Kansas, twenty-sixth Governor of Kansas, a position he held from 1933 to 1937. A member of the Republican Party (United Sta ...

Alf Landon
in the U.S. Presidential election. This was in direct contradiction to the widely-respected ''
Literary Digest ''The Literary Digest'' was an influential American general interest weekly magazine published by Funk & Wagnalls. Founded by Isaac Kaufmann Funk in 1890, it eventually merged with two similar weekly magazines, ''Public Opinion'' and ''Current Lit ...
'' magazine whose poll based on over two million returned questionnaires predicted that Landon would be the winner. Not only did Gallup get the election right, he correctly predicted the results of the ''Literary Digest'' poll, as well using a random sample smaller than theirs but chosen to match it. Twelve years later, his organization had its moment of greatest ignominy, when it predicted that Thomas Dewey would defeat Harry S. Truman in the U.S. presidential election, 1948, 1948 election, by between 5% and 15%; Truman won the election by 4.5%. Gallup believed the error was mostly due to his decision to end polling three weeks before Election Day, thus failing to account for Truman's comeback. In 1947, he launched the Gallup International Association, an international association of polling organizations. With friends-cum-rivals Elmo Roper and Archibald Crossley, he was instrumental in the establishment of the Market Research Council, the National Council on Public Polls, and the American Association for Public Opinion Research. In 1948, with Claude E. Robinson, he founded Gallup & Robinson, an advertising research company. In 1958, Gallup grouped all of his polling operations under what became The Gallup Organization. Gallup died in 1984 of a myocardial infarction, heart attack at his summer home in Sigriswil, Tschingel ob Gunten, a village in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland. He was buried in Princeton Cemetery. His wife died in 1988, and their son, writer and pollster George Gallup, Jr., died in 2011.

See also

*Approval rating *The Gallup Organization *Gallup & Robinson *George H. Gallup House *Gallup International Association ; Pollsters *Archibald Crossley *Elmo Roper *Mervin Field *Louis Harris



* Cantril, Hadley. ''Gauging Public Opinion'' (1944)
Cantril, Hadley and Mildred Strunk, eds. ''Public Opinion, 1935–1946'' (1951)
massive compilation of many public opinion polls from US, UK, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere
* Converse, Jean M. ''Survey Research in the United States: Roots and Emergence 1890–1960'' (1987), the standard history
Doktorov, Boris Z. "George Gallup: Biography and Destiny." Moscow: (2011)
* Foley, Ryan J.
''Gallup Papers Give Glimpse into US Polling History'', Associated Press (2012)
* Gallup, George. ''Public Opinion in a Democracy'' (1939) *Gallup, George, and Evan Hill, Evan Hiill. ''The Secrets of Long Life'' (Geis Associates/Random House, 1960). * Gallup, Alec M. ed. ''The Gallup Poll Cumulative Index: Public Opinion, 1935–1997'' (1999) lists 10,000+ questions, but no results * Gallup, George Horace, ed. ''The Gallup Poll; Public Opinion, 1935–1971'' 3 vol (1972) summarizes results of each poll. * Hawbaker, Becky Wilson. "Taking 'the Pulse of Democracy': George Gallup, Iowa, and the Origin of the Gallup Poll." The Palimpsest 74(3) 98–118. Description of Gallup's Iowa years and their impact on his development.
Lavrakas, Paul J. et al. eds. ''Presidential Polls and the News Media'' (1995)

Moore, David W. ''The Superpollsters: How They Measure and Manipulate Public Opinion in America'' (1995)
* * Rogers, Lindsay. ''The Pollsters: Public Opinion, Politics, and Democratic Leadership'' (1949)
Traugott, Michael W. ''The Voter's Guide to Election Polls''
3rd ed. (2004)
Young, Michael L. ''Dictionary of Polling: The Language of Contemporary Opinion Research'' (1992)

External links

from 1948 {{DEFAULTSORT:Gallup, George 1901 births 1984 deaths 20th-century American mathematicians American statisticians Burials at Princeton Cemetery Columbia University faculty Drake University faculty People from Jefferson, Iowa Pollsters Public opinion University of Iowa alumni