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George Gallup

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George Gallup

George Gallup
Born George Horace Gallup
(1901-11-18)November 18, 1901
Jefferson, Iowa, United States
Died July 26, 1984(1984-07-26) (aged 82)
Tschingel, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland
Alma mater University of Iowa
Occupation Statistician
Known for Gallup poll

George Horace Gallup (November 18, 1901 – July 26, 1984) was an American pioneer of survey sampling techniques and inventor of the Gallup poll, a successful statistical method of survey sampling for measuring public opinion.


  • Biography 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • External links 5


George Gallup on a 2001 Romania stamp
Grave in Princeton Cemetery

Gallup was born in University of Iowa, where he was a football player, a member of the Iowa Beta chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and editor of The Daily Iowan, 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.[1]

He then moved to Des Moines, Iowa, where he served as head of the Department of Journalism at Drake University until 1931. That year, he moved to Evanston, Illinois, as a professor of journalism and advertising at Northwestern University. The next year, he moved to New York City to join the advertising agency of Young and Rubicam as director of research (later as vice president from 1937 to 1947). He was also professor of journalism at 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.[2]

Gallup is often credited as the developer of public polling. In 1932, Gallup did some polling for his mother-in-law, Ola Babcock Miller, a candidate who was a long-shot from winning a position as Iowa Secretary of State. With the Democratic landslide of that year, she won a stunning victory, furthering Gallup's interest in politics.[3]

In 1936, his new organization achieved national recognition by correctly predicting, from the replies of only 50,000 respondents, that Franklin Roosevelt would defeat Alf Landon in the U.S. Presidential election. This was in direct contradiction to the widely respected Literary Digest 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 1948 election, by five to fifteen percentage points. Gallup believed the error was mostly due to ending his polling three weeks before Election Day.

In 1947, he launched the

Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Henry Bruère
President of the National Municipal League
December 1953 – November 1956
Succeeded by
Cecil Morgan
  • The Gallup Legacy, from Gallup & Robinson website
  • profileTIME from 1948

External links

  • Cantril, Hadley. Gauging Public Opinion (1944)
  • (1951)Public Opinion, 1935–1946Cantril, Hadley and Mildred Strunk, eds. , 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., , Associated Press (2012)Gallup Papers Give Glimpse into US Polling History
  • Gallup, George. Public Opinion in a Democracy (1939)
  • 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.
  • (1995)Presidential Polls and the News MediaLavrakas, Paul J. et al. eds.
  • (1995)The Superpollsters: How They Measure and Manipulate Public Opinion in AmericaMoore, David W.
  • Ohmer, Susan (2006). George Gallup in Hollywood. Columbia University Press.  
  • Rogers, Lindsay. The Pollsters: Public Opinion, Politics, and Democratic Leadership (1949)
  • The Voter's Guide to Election PollsTraugott, Michael W. 3rd ed. (2004)
  • (1992)Dictionary of Polling: The Language of Contemporary Opinion ResearchYoung, Michael L.


  1. ^ Rogers, Everett M. "Iowa School of Journalism". Retrieved June 13, 2012. 
  2. ^ "George Gallup Biography". Encyclopedia of World Biography. Retrieved June 13, 2012. 
  3. ^ The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa-Eunice Viola Babcock Miller
  4. ^ Wolfgang Donsbach and Michael W. Traugott (2007). The SAGE handbook of public opinion research. Social Science. 
  5. ^ "N.Y. Times reporter Tom Wicker was acclaimed for Kennedy assassination coverage".  


See also

[5] Gallup died in 1984 of a

In 1958, Gallup grouped all of his polling operations under what became The Gallup Organization.

In 1948, with Claude E. Robinson, he founded Gallup and Robinson, Inc., an advertising research company.


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