Page 2 - Boca ViewPointe - November '19
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Page 2, Viewpointe                                                  November 2019

      Just In Case You Missed It                         University of Iowa, where he was a football player, a member     explained back then, a certain winding air to it—but it was
                                                                                                             Gallup’s personal road to political polling had, as TIME
                                                         of the Iowa Beta chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity,
      By Bob Kronish                                     and editor of The Daily Iowan, an independent newspaper   driven, all along, by his faith in numbers and the desire to
                                                         which serves the university campus. He earned his B.A. in   measure the world. As a friend of his told the magazine, he
      The Popular Poll                                   1923, his M.A. in 1925 and his Ph.D. in 1928.     wished he had invented the ruler. Raised in an eccentric Iowa
      Performance                                           He then moved to Des Moines, Iowa, where he served as   family and having to pay his own way through the State
         Authors Note:  Eight                            head of the Department of Journalism at Drake University until   University of Iowa, he ended up editing the Daily Iowan.
      months ago, in the March                           1931. That year, he moved to Evanston, Illinois, as a professor      He developed an interest in figuring out who was
      issue of Viewpointe, the article                   of journalism and advertising at Northwestern University. The   actually reading the paper, and which parts they liked best.
      in this column was headlined:                      next year, he moved to New York City to join the advertising   “At that time, a common way of measuring reader interest
      “The Race To Quantum”.                             agency of Young and Rubicam as director of research (later as   was to yank out the crossword puzzle for a week and count
      It mentioned IBM recently                          vice president from 1937 to 1947). He was also professor of   the complaints,” the magazine noted. “Gallup adopted the
      announced what It claimed                          journalism at Columbia University, but he had to give up this   startling device of confronting a reader with the whole
      was the world’s first quantum computer”. Today, October 28th,   position shortly after he formed his own polling company, the   newspaper and asking him exactly what he liked and didn’t
      Google’s research lab announced “it had reached a milestone   American Institute of Public Opinion (Gallup Poll), in 1935. [3]  like about it.”
      that scientists had been working towards since the 1980s.     In a May 1948 cover story, TIME dubbed Gallup the      Gallup is often credited as the developer of public polling.
         “It’s quantum computer had achieved a task that isn’t   “Babe Ruth of the polling profession”—not the only or the   In 1932, Gallup did some polling for his mother-in-law,
      possible with traditional computers. Google’s quantum   first pollster, but the most famous and the one who defined the
      computer  did  in  3  minutes  20  seconds  mathematical   game, and in doing so changed the history of American politics.  JICYMI on page 3
      calculations that supercomputers could not complete in under
      10,000 years. Scientists likened Google’s announcement to
      the Wright brothers’ first plane flight in 1903”. There will
      undoubtedly be more to come about Quantum computers.
         Polling has become so popular and so ubiquitous that
      hardly any major decision, be it political or commercial, seems
      to be conducted without the results of a poll. Wikipedia lists
      22 major polling organizations alone. Many of them, such
      as Gallup, Quinnipiac, Harris, Pew, Nielsen and Rasmussen
      have become well known within the industry as well with the
      American population in general. Polling results have become
      a much more desirable commodity, recently, functioning as a
      guide to presidential popularity.
         The first known example of an opinion poll was the local
      straw poll. The idiom may allude to a straw (thin plant stalk)
      held up to see in what direction the wind blows, in this case, the
      wind of group opinion. The very first straw poll was conducted
      by the Harrisburg Pennsylvanian in 1824, showing Andrew
      Jackson leading John Quincy Adams by 335 votes to 169 in
      the contest for the United States Presidency. Since Jackson
      won the popular vote in that state and the whole country, such
      straw votes gradually became more popular, but they remained
      local, usually citywide phenomena.
         In 1916, The Literary Digest embarked on a national survey
      (partly as a circulation-raising exercise) and correctly predicted
      Woodrow Wilson’s election as president. Mailing out millions
      of postcards and simply counting the returns, The Literary
      Digest correctly predicted the victories of Warren Harding in
      1920, Calvin Coolidge in 1924, Herbert Hoover in 1928, and
      Franklin Roosevelt in 1932.
         Then, in 1936, its 2.3 million “voters” constituted a huge
      sample, but they were generally more affluent Americans who
      tended to have Republican sympathies. The Literary Digest
      was ignorant of this new bias; the week before election day,
      it reported, incorrectly, that Alf Landon was far more popular
      than Roosevelt.
         At the same time, George Gallup conducted a far smaller
      (but more scientifically based) survey, in which he polled
      a demographically representative sample. The Gallup
      organization correctly predicted Roosevelt’s landslide victory.
      The Literary Digest soon went out of business, while polling
      started to take off.
         Gallup was born in Jefferson, Iowa, 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

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