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The Nixon Administration and the Pollsters


Political Science Quarterly Volume 110 Number 4 1995-96

LAWRENCE R. JACOBS is associate professor of political science at the University of Minnesota and the author of The Health of Nations: Public Opinion and the Making of American and British Health Policy.

ROBERT Y. SHAPIRO is professor of political science at Columbia University, author of numerous articles on American politics and public opinion, and co-author of The Rational Public: Fifty Years of Trends in Americans' Policy Preferences.

Do opinion polls lead to political responsiveness or to manipulation of public opinion? Political observers have long debated whether public opinion surveys facilitate or undermine representative government. George Gallup argued in the 1940s, that polls are a tool for deciphering public sentiment and enabling policy makers to respond to what their constituents want. [1] By contrast, Walter Lippmann and others have contended that through the mass media elites manufacture the public attitudes they desire and that polls are merely a tool in this process of manipulating public opinion. [2]

Although policy makers' use of polls has profound implications for democratic government, there has been relatively little investigation of how politicians actually

use polls and interact with pollsters. [3] As part of our research on modern presidents' use of polling, we have conducted interviews, examined archival materials, and collected other evidence regarding the rather remarkable activities of the Nixon administration. We have examined Richard Nixon's use of private polls elsewhere. Here we examine the Nixon administration and the public pollsters -- Louis Harris and the Gallup organization. [4]

Our research and that of others reveal that the Nixon administration pursued Harris and the Gallup organization in order to manipulate poll results and public opinion. [5] Ironically, Gallup's optimistic expectation that opinion surveys would only serve to boost government responsiveness is undermined by Nixon's relations with at least two polling organization, including Gallup's.


In the 1970s, Harris and Gallup were the giants of the polling industry. Because of their prominence, they attracted Nixon's interest and became prime candidates for attack and manipulation by the administration. According to the diaries of top aide H.R. Haldeman, Nixon believed that Harris and Gallup poll "directly affect our ability to govern, because of their influence on Congressmen, foreign leaders. etc." [6] Harry Dent, a top Nixon strategist, recalled being "amazed at how much the people at the top hang on to public opinion polling." The reason was "part ego, but the greater part was to build up their authority and their power in Washington." [7]

It was Nixon's operating assumption that political intrigue drove Harris's and Gallup's reports. Reacting to one set of disappointing Gallup figures, the president warned his aides that "somebody is probably putting some influence on Gallup" and that it was important to "find out who it is." [8] Indeed, Nixon used his elaborate private polling operation to "keep the published polls honest." [9] The White House's suspicion and vindictiveness toward polling was typified by Haldeman's reaction to a series of unfavorable California surveys in June 1972; he called for an "all-out attack on the Field Poll in California" with the aim of 'totally destroy[ing] [its] credibility" and ordered aides to 'whack' ABC for one of its polls. [10]

Archival records suggest that the White House pursued a systematic strategy for inducing the cooperation of Harris and Gallup. The president's interest in their results was deliberately emphasized in order to flatter the pollsters and to make their cooperation -- as Nixon's appointments secretary, Dwight Chapin, recalled -- an "ego thing. " [11] The White House also played on the pollsters' sense of patriotism, equating cooperation with national duty. Indeed, both Louis Harris and senior Gallup officials told us that they cooperated with every president who approached them, including Bill Clinton, because they considered it a "public service for the country." As George Gallup, Jr explained, "you can't just say, 'get lost' when the White House calls." [12]

Although the Nixon White House occasionally tried to pressure Gallup by calling newspapers to "squelch" a poll, [13] it generally found the organization politically sympathetic to Republicans. Instead, Nixon and his top assistants reserved their strong-arm tactics for Harris in 1969 and 1970; in 1971 they turned to more positive inducements. Harris was especially distrusted because of his ties to the Democratic party and John Kennedy. (Harris was Kennedy's political consultant and pollster during the 1960 presidential campaign and his term in office.) [14] As Dent recalled, "it was a reality in the White House that Gallup was considered a friend and Harris a foe" who worked for "the other side." [15]

Archival evidence confirms that in late 1969 the White House seized on the fact that "Dan Lufkin, one of our friends ... has [a] controlling interest in the Harris poll." Harry Dent recruited Peter Flanigan to "get the message across to [Lufkin] to turn [the Harris polling firm] ...around"; Flanigan reported back that Lufkin "assures me" that he will "keep him honest." [16]

The White House also tried to publicly challenge Harris. In June 1970, Haldeman instructed a senior White House aide, Charles Colson (of later Watergate renown), to use the pretext of inaccurate polling in a recent British election to launch a congressional "investigation of pollsters" in the United States. Colson was specifically directed to "zero in on... Lou Harris' polling organization" and to make the project a "top priority" -- one that was "well-publicized" but not "identified" with the White House. [17] Dwight Chapin, who originated the idea, recently conceded that this was "obviously wrong." In fact, White House aides ran an ongoing program (as White House Communications Director Herb Klein boasted in one memo) to "knoc[k] Lou Harris ... on every occasion possible public and private." [18]

The White House also used government business in its attempt to influence Harris. According to Haldeman's diaries, Nixon set out in 1969 to "zing" Harris and to "stop use of Harris for departmental polls." [19] But by 1971, the White House shifted its strategy and began using government business as an inducement to Harris. [20] As Lufkin had recommended to a sympathetic Flanigan during Nixon's first year in office, "making sure that Republicans get a fair shake [will be easier] if Harris would occasionally get a Republican contract." [21]

In June 1971, Colson launched a search for the "control point" over government opinion surveying "in case it becomes useful to increase the Harris share of government polling and research." [22] During subsequent months, the White House commissioned Harris to conduct a survey for its Domestic Council Office and communicated with him regularly to design the study. In October 1971, Harris completed the survey , which provided politically useful data on the public's mood, its major issues of concern, and its preferences toward a range of controversial policy issues from race and crime to welfare reform and revenue sharing, and its rating of Nixon's handling of pressing national problems. [23]

Harris received $39,000 in government funds for doing the poll -- $135,000 in 1995 dollars. [24] In addition, the pollster reveled in being at the heart of power. At several points, he bubbled over that the "project has become something of a labor of love for me personally" -- one that he felt "deeply involved [in]." [25]

Harris defends his survey as in "no way, shape, or form resembling political polls." It was "perfectly legitimate," because the president had requested it and he had "deliberately set the price low in order not to make any profit from it." Harris claims that he worked for the government and "never worked for Richard Nixon's political operation." [26]

Harris's defense rests on the implausible assumption that Richard Nixon could be separated into two distinct actors -- one the government's president and the other a politician who was intent on reelection and on promoting partisan issues that he and other Republicans supported. The fact is that Harris was paid for the Domestic Council survey by a White House that was committed to a political or ideological viewpoint. Conducting this survey for the White House while claiming to report unbiased results for the public represented -- in words of former Gallup executive John Davies -- "conflict of interest at its highest level." [27]

The White House used more than survey business to improve its relations with Harris. Colson lined Nixon up to call the pollster as "part of our continuing effort to cultivate Harris" and suggested that inviting Harris for the next social function at the White House was a "real must." [28] Colson also pressed General Alexander Haig (who was at the time an aide to National Security Council Adviser Henry Kissinger) to satisfy Harris' request for a reception at the American Embassy in the Soviet Union, because it "would be a very good stroke from our standpoint." [29] Here, Harris challenges Colson's account, noting that his trip to the Soviet Union was unrelated to polling, unrelated to Colson, and had been worked out with Kissinger and Haig to cover an important matter of foreign policy. Haig dismissed as "cockamamie" the suggestion that the White House would turn to a Democratic pollster to serve as an emissary with the Soviets. Moreover, Harris's claim that Colson played no role in his trip is contradicted by a letter from the pollster to Colson emphasizing that he felt "deeply indebted to you for having notified the Embassy in Moscow of our visit to the Soviet Union." [30]

Nixon's determined pursuit of Harris and Gallup resulted in an ongoing secret relationship. Charles Colson was assigned responsibility for the Harris portfolio; Dwight Chapin and, to a less degree, Don Rumsfeld, director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, established ties with two of the Gallup organization's senior officials -- John Davies and George Gallup Jr.

While the pollsters may have genuinely considered their cooperation a "public service," Nixon clearly treated it as a political service. He and his aides aimed for the best of both worlds: to influence Harris's and Gallup's operations and press reports through back-channel contacts while using the pollsters' mantle of impartiality to the White House's political advantage.

Although the White House failed to control either pollster in the way it hoped, Nixon and his aides reaped three advantages from their contacts with Harris and Gallup: the White House received advance information, affected the preparation of survey questions, and influenced the pollsters' results. Working the White House's contacts to secure information on the pollsters' future plans was especially valued by Nixon. Dent recalled that "whoever had the hot polling data had power" and a ticket to "stop the president from whatever he was doing" to brief him. [31] To satisfy the demands of Nixon and Haldeman, Chapin and Colson provided a steady flow of information about what questions the Harris and Gallup would ask and what results they would publish a week or more down the road. [32] For instance, in November 1969 Chapin reported to Haldeman the questions that Gallup would be mailing out to its interviewers. He alerted his boss that the survey would probe the public's reactions to the moratoriums that opponents of the Vietnam War were planning; he added parenthetically that "I was told that if the Moratoriums are peaceful in nature, they probably will disregard use of this question." [33]

The White House's contacts also provided a continual stream of information well in advance of publication regarding the president's popularity and his standing in trial heats with potential presidential rivals. [34] In October 1969, Chapin reported Gallup's "summary data on a Vietnam questionnaire which has been in the field" and which might offer "some important information... which will help the Administration 'get off the hook' in regard to Vietnam." Chapin's contact emphasized that George Gallup, Sr. "feels this poll could do a great service to the Government ... [and] asked Mr. Davies to contact me to arrange an appointment." [35] In a recent interview, Davies "vehemently denounced" Chapin's memo as a "crock" because it "suggests that we stood ready to help the administration." The intent of Gallup Sr. -- his son explained in an interview -- was to help the country by "finding a plan to get out of Vietnam that would win the support of both Democrats and Republicans and end the mess." [36] While it is not possible reconcile these two competing accounts, Chapin's report nonetheless created the clear impression (and expectation) among the president's senior aides that Gallup was a "friend" who would help the White House.

Harris also kept the White House abreast of forthcoming results, meeting with Nixon himself on several occasions to report his analysis. [37] Even in the heat of the 1972 general election, Harris relayed his latest numbers to the White House, prompting Colson to report confidently that "Harris is going to pose no real shift ." [38] The pollster's communications with the White House got to the point that Harris personally sent his results to the White House ten days before their publication and asked Colson in a handwritten note to "let me know what you think." [39]

In interviews, both Harris and the Gallup executives readily acknowledge and strenuously defend the practice of sharing data before publication. They argue that because their results during Nixon's era were sent to newspaper editors up to ten days before publication, the data were not "hot breaking news" but were available to be freely shared in advance of their public release on the agreement that they not be published before a stipulated date. Pre-releasing data to the White House amounted, the pollsters argue, to little more than routine "fact finding and fact-sharing." Indeed, Harris and Gallup's data sharing with the Nixon White House was not a new practice; they provided advance information to Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson, as well as subsequent presidents. [40]

Information is power-a precious commodity in Washington, especially for a White House that faced Congress controlled by the opposition's political party. Nixon and his aides used advanced results not simply for information purposes as the pollsters perhaps naively assumed but as a political resource or weapon to be taken advantage of.

When tipped off by his early warning system of forthcoming positive results, Nixon pressed his aides to "merchandise" and "exploit" the polls by developing "game plans" that would boost his political standing. [41] In several diary entries during July 1970, Haldeman noted that the president "wants to build up [the] next Gallup poll for a major ride, letters and calls ahead, [and] a major column by [Patrick] Buchanan about remarkable survival with press opposition." [42] Chapin and Dent recalled that "with a poll coming out, we would get ready to sell the good numbers." "The benefit of getting the advance tip was to get your troops pooped" and lined up to "hype" favorable results in a way that would bolster the positive image of the president and his policies. [43]

Another way to capitalize on advance information was to plan administration events with an eye toward influencing surveys as they were being conducted. This is illustrated by the White House's decision on whether to release U.S. Army Lt. William L. Calley from the stockade after he was convicted of committing atrocities in the Vietnamese village of My Lai. According to Haldeman's diaries, Nixon "felt strongly that we had to move on our next step today... so that we'd... affect the Gallup poll being taken over this weekend." [44]

Nixon's efforts to cash in on advanced results reveal the danger in providing advanced information to the White House, even if it is also distributed to others. The problem is that President Nixon's capability to use the pollsters' tips could not be matched. The president is uniquely equipped to use a large staff to widely distribute favorable poll results or to make a national decision with the intent of boosting his popularity rating in a forthcoming poll.

The second advantage that the Nixon White House reaped from its close contacts with pollsters involved placing favorable survey questions. Nixon persistently prodded his aides to "plan[t] questions with [Gallup]" and to "get the best polls... with loaded questions, using Gallup, Harris, and [Albert] Sindlinger." [45] Chapin recalled "really pumping ideas to Gallup." In November 1969, for example, Chapin asked Haldeman to "look over [a set of] ... questions which I am going to submit to Gallup." [46] Similarly, Colson reported to Haldeman in September 1971 that a recent Harris "poll was planned... to make certain points which Harris and I discussed before." [47] Harris dismissed this and other memos by Colson, however, as "obviously typical of staff members who wanted to convince their superiors that they had me in hand. [48]

To evaluate the claims of White House aides that they influenced Harris's and Gallup's questions, we compared the White House's "suggestions" with Harris and Gallup's actual questions in their annual compendiums of polls and news releases. The evidence confirms the White House's success in important instances.

On 3 November 1969, President Nixon gave what Chapin characterized as his "most major speech on Vietnam"; its aim was to mobilize Americans behind the administration's Vietnam strategy. As part of the White House's planning, aides "suggested" questions to Gallup officials who "indicated that they would use [several of them]... for sure." [49] In a recent interview, Chapin explained that the White House was confident that it would "capture public opinion for twenty four hours" and "work to the benefit of the president." The television networks ran Nixon's nationally televised speech without a rebuttal, and Gallup conducted a quick one-day survey. Chapin calculated that by providing questions to Gallup he could use the pollster to capture the public's surge of support for the president's position. The purpose was openly political -- to "validate what the President said" and to "isolate the Vietnam protestors from the silent majority." [50] Indeed, Nixon promoted his controversial policy by emphasizing Gallup's favorable poll in a subsequent interview with Barbara Walters. [51]

Judging by Gallup's own compilation of polls and a New York Times article, the organization's questions closely paralleled the White House's suggestion. Former Gallup executive, John Davies, conceded in a recent interview that he could imagine using many of the White House's questions. Although the Gallup organization could have selected a variety of question wordings and topics, it chose to follow the White House's lead and focus on the president's plan and on the impact of "moratoriums and public demonstrations" on the attainment of peace. The last question, which Davis found "fair," could be taken as biased toward the administration's line, because it reiterated Nixon's own linkage between domestic dissent and peace. [52] The evidence of administration officials' communications with Gallup and the recent acknowledgments of Davies and Gallup, Jr. indicate that the firm was not forthright with reporters in November 1969, when it denied that the White House wrote its questions. The organization's prescience had apparently raised reporters' suspicions at the time. [53]

A main objective of Nixon's aides was to influence what topics Harris and Gallup focused on. For instance, the White House suggested to Gallup in late 1969 that it ask respondents about the media's impartiality. [54] (Gallup, Jr. told us that he did not consider the questions "too hot" or "loaded.") Gallup's compilation of polls and the New York Times story on the survey indicate that the pollster did not run the planted question, but he did run a question about media fairness -- a topic not addressed since 1945. [55]

Gallup officials stoutly defend their use of White House questions, noting -- as Gallup Jr explained -- that they "welcome suggestions from anybody." "The fact," he continued, "that the White House gave questions to us doesn't mean we were hired hands. These are just ideas, suggestions... that we used because we thought that they were obvious questions that should be done." Referring to the survey on Nixon's Vietnam speech, Gallup found no problem with using the White House's suggestions. The Gallup organization asked many questions in its surveys, and the White House's tips were useful for conducting its business of tracking hot breaking news. [56]

The problem is that the White House's ideas were not innocent but were driven by political ambition and elaborate strategies. It did matter if the White House was the source of a question. When Gallup ran White House questions on Nixon's Vietnam policy or his attack on the media, the White House was using the pollster to score political points and to set the terms of public discussion. Few, if any, Americans could propel poll findings on the media or Vietnam into the national spotlight with the effectiveness of the White House. In other words, taking questions from all sides gives an advantage to Nixon and presidents in general, because only they can insure that their suggestions will become the subject of sustained national attention.

The third benefit that the White House sought from its contacts with Harris and Gallup involved influencing the reporting of survey results. Archival records and a review of Harris's own published results suggest that the White House had some influence on the pollster's decisions regarding which results not to publish. During Nixon's reelection drive, Colson reported that advance survey results in a three-way race were Nixon 42 percent, Edmund Muskie 42 percent, and George Wallace 11 percent; a pairing of just Nixon and Muskie pushed the Democrat ahead 48-45. As Colson explained, Harris's trial heats found that the "Wallace vote... takes 2 away from Muskie for every one he takes away from us." Referring to the data on the two way race, Colson assured Haldeman in January 1972 that "Harris will not publish this information. He gives it to us for our guidance but agreed with me that it would be better not printed." [57]

Harris denies Colson's account and insists that he did publish all the data. But, the pollster's own published materials contradict his claim that he fully published his findings. His compilation of polls reports both the two- and three-way pairings that Colson reports - confirming the factual basis of Colson's memo to Haldeman. [58] But Harris's press release at the time failed to report the critical results on the two-way split. [59] The obvious effect of withholding the two-way pairing was to obscure the fact that Wallace drained support from Muskie and thereby bolstered Nixon's position.

Another way the White House influenced the reporting of results involved spin control; half the battle was shaping how the polls were reported. In September 1971, Colson wrote Haldeman that an upcoming Harris column was based on a poll that was "planned" with the pollster to "establish... that the President does not need a 50 percent positive [approval] rating to be reelected." Colson explained that the White House's interest in this finding is that "any subsequent polls... show[ing] us below 50 percent will have less political significance." The point of Colson's memo was to report to Haldeman that a pre-publication draft of Harris's column was "more negative in tone than I had expected." Indeed, Haldeman was apparently startled by Harris's draft and asked Colson with alarm, "[Expletive], did you read that Ham's poll?" Harris categorically rejects the account presented in Colson's memo that he would have designed a poll to reflect White House concerns; he attributes Colson's memo to the aide's drive to impress his superiors.

Harris's account is flatly contradicted by three pieces of evidence: Harris's original pre-publication draft of his column, which is archived in the Nixon records; a transcript of Colson's telephone conversation with Harris to review the pollster's pre-publication draft of his column: and Harris' column that was published in the Chicago Tribune. The evidence suggests that Harris altered his interpretation of his poll to coincide with Colson's suggestions and Nixon' s political interests.

According to the transcript, Colson complained to Harris that the opening paragraph of the pre-publication version implied that "there's no way [Nixon] can get over 50 percent of the vote" and invited damaging headlines like "Nixon can't achieve 50 percent." Rather than rebuffing Colson, Harris responded, "I'm sorry that the lead was tinkered with" and agreed that it would create the false impression that Nixon needed 50 percent of the vote to win the 1972 race. Harris responded to Colson's concerns by proposing to call the "Chicago Tribune right away" and "[p]ut a kill on the first paragraph and pick up the second" which would avoid the damaging the headlines feared by the White House. A comparison of the transcript, the pre-publication version of Harris's column, and Harris's column published in the Chicago Tribune indicates that the pollster dropped the second sentence in the pre-publication draft which Colson had targeted: Harris opted for Colson's preferred spin -- that it was possible to be reelected with less than 50 percent of the vote. In short, the evidence indicates clear White House influence on Harris's survey design and write-up. [60]

In another case of White House spin control, Colson reported in January 1972 that Nixon's popularity rating had fallen a bit but assured Haldeman that "Harris will not feature this in a column but will bury it in statistics in a column relating to something else." [61] Harris's subsequent press release ran Nixon's popularity rating at the end of a twelve-paragraph story entitled, "India-Pakistan Hurts Nixon." By contrast, a statistically meaningless two point popularity jump in November 1971 was trumpeted. The Washington Post followed Harris's lead and failed to draw attention to the decline in Nixon's ratings; The Chicago Tribune dropped the end of Harris's press release and, therefore, did not publish Nixon's eroding support. [62]

Perhaps the most fundamental issue in reading polling results is whether we can trust the numbers that are published. Evidence suggests that the White House successfully influenced the actual poll results. In November 1971, Colson reported to Haldeman that Harris agreed to alter his numbers. According to several memos, Harris conducted two polls in late October and early November, with the first survey producing a 56-43 popularity rating and the second a 49-48 split. Colson explained that "Harris will probably average the two figures coming out somewhere around 52 approve and 45 disapprove." [63] In a subsequent memo, he explained that "We suffered a precipitous decline in between the two polls and rather than show us up one week and down the next, Harris, at my suggestion, combined the poll data. [64]

Harris, however, dismisses Colson's account, noting that the standard methodology for two surveys that are only four days apart was to "average the result of the two and publish that" rather than publish them as two separate polls. He defends his decision to average the results as a "perfectly normal thing to do," because the differences between the surveys were simply a "sampling artifact." '"When I write a piece," he explained to us, "I'm professional and write it as it is... This is what the data says, and you say it." [65]

Independent evidence, however, does not support Harris's account. Contrary to Harris's recent defense, Harris's own yearbook considered the two surveys as separate and published the 56-43 split for October and the 49-48 numbers for November. [66] The figures in Harris's yearbook also corroborate -- once again -- both the results in Colson's memo and the fact that Harris was discussing his results with the White House well before their publication. Harris's column in the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post ran the averaged number of 53 percent and indicated that it was produced from a single survey. The effect of averaging was to obscure the downward trend in Nixon's popularity from 56 to 49 percent. Not surprisingly, both newspapers headlined their stories by highlighting the president' s favorable "gains" rather than his recent slippage. [67]

Chapin's reports also seem to indicate White House influence on Gallup's polls. In July 1970, Chapin alerted Haldeman that Gallup executive Davies had informed him that the organization's preliminary figures on Nixon's next popularity rating were hovering around 61 percent. When pressed by Chapin if it could drop to 59 percent, Davies was reported, to have replied that "No, I won't let that happen." [68] Gallup published the 61 percent figure. While the difference between 61 percent and 59 percent is statistically trivial, it had symbolic importance. Indeed, the New York Times headlined the "increases" in Nixon's popularity. [69]

Davies told us that this statement was "preposterous" because of Gallup's system of checks. Chapin stands by his memo. Although the final 61 percent figure may be the result of coincidence or good estimation, the appearance is that White House interference influenced Gallup's reporting. Moreover, it remains undisputed that Harris and Gallup regularly and secretly communicated with the White House about their results before the public had a chance to see them.


The standards for judging the behavior of the pollsters during Nixon's time as well as in our own have been specified by professional organizations as well as the founder of the Gallup organization, Dr. George Gallup, Sr. The American Association for Public Opinion Research -- the leading professional organization of survey researchers -- stipulates two relevant standards in its code. The first principle is that pollsters should "exercise due care to assure the reliability and validity of results... We shall not knowingly make interpretations of research results, nor shall we tacitly permit interpretations that are inconsistent with the data available." The second standard stipulates that opinion researchers should make available in their reports "essential information about how the research was conducted [including] method, location, and dates of data collection." [70]

In addition, Dr. Gallup insisted on a more general standard to safeguard the credibility of published polls: pollsters should unmistakably distance themselves from politicians. The job of the detached "scorekeeper" should be left to "persons and organizations that have no connection with parties or candidates, [and] that obtain their financial support from groups or sources that are not committed to any single political or ideological viewpoint. [71] Louis Harris and the Gallup organization as well as contemporary polling firms have all joined the choir for clean polling. When Louis Harris began to publish polling results in 1963, he publicly promised -- after helping Kennedy win the presidency -- to stop conducting surveys for political candidates in order to insure his impartiality.

In our view, Gallup's and Harris's relationship with Nixon violated these standards . Harris's decision in the fall of 1971 to average his results for publication was not consistent with the standard of full disclosure and of avoiding misleading interpretations; it obscured the downward trend in Nixon's popularity.

The release of information prior to publication and the use of White House questions created an ongoing, secret relationship that departed from Dr. Gallup's admonition to maintain distance from politicians. Nixon's efforts to capitalize on pre-publication results reveal the danger in providing advance information to the White House, even if it is also distributed to others.

Finally, Louis Harris's decision to conduct a poll for the White House's Domestic Council conflicted with his position as a pollster purporting to offer impartial analysis and certainly contradicted Dr. Gallup's demand that public pollsters not take any financial support from sources with a decided viewpoint.

Looking back on his contacts with the Nixon White House, Gallup's Davies insisted that, "If we thought what we were doing was helping the president, the conversations would have ceased." But, of course, the White House's activities were driven by the imperative of helping the president. And, White House aides were not above misleading Gallup, falsely assuring Davies at the time that "we did not use [his information] in any way or release it ahead of time." [72] After reviewing records from the Nixon archives Davies conceded that Nixon's use of Gallup's data "certainly wasn't something that we had any idea of" and, indeed, the polling organization's relationship with the White House was "naive" and "wrong." [73]

In contrast, Louis Harris defends his behavior and insists that Nixon's efforts to "coopt me were not successful." [74] From the perspective of the Nixon administration, however, White House aides considered themselves successful -- as Colson put it -- in "cultivating" the pollster. By 1974, the White House reversed its initial appraisal of Harris as an enemy and now considered him --according to Nixon's last chief of staff, Alexander Haig -- "friendly and helpful." [75] Even as the Watergate scandal hit, White House aides continued to report that Hams promised that "we could chat before [his next polls] got set in concrete." [76]


The Lesson for Researchers

Studying the Nixon administration's relations with Gallup and Harris offers three lessons. First, it offers a warning to archival researchers regarding the importance of corroborating accounts offered by White House aides. Supporting evidence is necessary, because ambition can produce overstatements, spurious claims, and inaccuracies; events and decisions unknown to the aides may reverse or undermine their accounts. For instance, at least one of Colson's reports to Haldeman that Harris would not publish a set of results was partly contradicted by independent evidence. [77]

The Lesson for Pollsters

Nixon's pursuit of Gallup and Harris has clear and important implications for today's pollsters and consumers of survey results. Today's polls are probably not as susceptible to direct political manipulation as they were in Richard Nixon's day. The major reason is the proliferation of polling organizations and polls -- a development that ironically has been criticized for fueling the country's infatuation with public opinion as measured in such surveys.

Two decades ago, the number of major polling organizations was quite limited. Today, Harris and Gallup have been joined by literally dozens of polling organizations, with such media giants as the New York Times, CBS News, the Los Angeles Times, ABC, the Washington Post, NBC, the Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, CNN, and U.S. News and World Report conducting separate or joint surveys. The sheer number of polls has created a competitive dynamic that has led the different polling firms to keep an eye on each other and thereby regulate themselves. Indeed, the proliferation of media polling was motivated by a drive to break the monopoly that Harris and Gallup once held and to offer more independent sources of survey data. [78]

Gallup's reporting of the 1992 election provides an instructive example of today's competitive dynamics. As the campaign headed into the home stretch, Gallup altered the screen it was using to determine likely voters in the presidential election. The result was that its polls found Bush closing in on the frontrunner, Bill Clinton. The Gallup results were immediately scrutinized by a number of other pollsters, who failed to pick up the Bush surge. The criticism of Gallup was embarrassing and potentially harmful to its commercial research business.

In another recent controversy over poll results, the Gallup organization helped to resolve a debate over responses to a survey question about the occurrence of the holocaust asked by the Roper organization for the American Jewish Committee. The Roper poll reported that a sizeable percentage of the public -- over one fifth -- thought the holocaust might not have occurred. Gallup took the lead in identifying a confusing double negative in the wording of the survey question as the cause of the Roper result. The following question was asked: "Does it seem possible or does it seem impossible to you that the Nazi extermination of the Jews never happened?" [79]

Despite this monitoring of today's polling, the disturbing story that has emerged from the Nixon archives forces us to wonder about what influences politicians or other interested parties exert on today's poll questions and results. Gallup and Louis Harris personally continue to share data before publication with presidents and other reputable individuals as part of their open door policy. [80] Although one of President Clinton's pollsters, Stan Greenberg, denies any knowledge of Nixon-like meddling with polling, he has ongoing contacts with pollsters. He regularly communicates with media pollsters at such places as CNN or CBS about their surveys in order to "urge them to rethink their question wording in terms of future polls." [81]

Public pollsters' close contacts with the White House raise three problems. First, providing advance information or conducting informal discussions behind the scenes with the White House represents an enormous advantage for presidents. The fact is that polling data are rarely neutral. They invariably provide political ammunition for one side, and the White House has unparalleled capabilities to maximize the firepower of privileged access and advance information. Moreover, the rationale for communicating with the White House -- that presidents rely on published polling for informational purposes -- is less tenable now that presidential administrations conduct their own private surveys. [82]

Second, polling, like other services, rests on the public's faith and confidence in the outcomes. The appearance or suspicion of secret contacts between the White House and pollsters threaten the reputations of pollsters for fairness and objectivity. Indeed, Gallup officials' concern with protecting the firm's reputation led them to keep their contacts with the Nixon White House secret. According to Gallup Jr., his father was generally "reluctant to go to the White House, with any administration, because he was afraid that this would be misinterpreted" and that "people would read into these contacts.: [83] Gallup officials met with Nixon aides in Washington at a hotel because of their concern to avoid damaging their image of objectivity. [84]

In short, the lesson for today is that public pollsters' close contacts with presidents create an unmistakable appearance -- even if White House pressure is successfully resisted -- that contradicts pollsters' declarations of impartiality and nonpartisanship.

Third, there is significant potential for political tampering with the polling process and the reporting of results. The White House continues to wield potentially powerful resources -- whether involving strong arm tactics or appeals to patriotism -- and both pollsters and the journalists who report survey results exercise vast discretion in deciding about the wording of questions and the reporting of results. How should the media report a presidential candidate who finishes second in a primary race 8 points behind the front runner? Is it a loss or a surprisingly strong showing? Are such interpretations and the failure to publish other relevant polls the result of political interference or unbiased professional judgement?

The lesson of the Nixon administration's activities for today's pollsters and the interpreters of their results in the media is that the White House and other political organizations must be kept at a distance if the polls and the media are to be accepted as trusted scorekeepers.

The Lesson for American Democracy

Nixon's pursuit of Harris and Gallup provides strong support for the fears of Lippmann and others about the potential to shape public opinion and use polls as a tool for political manipulation. Nevertheless, the research that we and others have conducted on public opinion and policy making suggests recasting the debate between Lippmann's concerns about manipulation and Gallup's promotion of polls as a tool for heightening political responsiveness. It is not the case that policy makers' relationship with the mass public simply involves either shaping or responding to public opinion. Rather, responsiveness and direction often coexist; they are not mutually exclusive alternatives.

Government officials who are intent on shaping public opinion have come to appreciate over time that the public cannot be molded like clay but must be approached on terms that reflect public preferences. For instance, research on the United States and Britain suggests that government officials' concerns with shaping mass sentiment have in fact led them to become more sensitive to public attitudes. [85] Over time, policy makers have realized that affecting public opinion requires focusing on policies and presentations that enjoy public backing: sensitivity to public sentiment has enabled (rather than prevented) the exercise of strong direction of public opinion.

Conversely, responsiveness to public opinion also requires leadership. For example, Presidents Kennedy and Johnson responded to broad public support for the principle of expanding the elderly's access to health care by providing leadership in formulating a government program and drawing on the visibility of their office to mobilize public support behind their proposals for establishing Medicare. [86] Indeed, we stumbled upon the Nixon administration's ties to pollsters while we were researching similar processes during the Nixon presidency.

In studying the workings of American democracy, mass opinion cannot be studied in isolation from elite politics, because the public does not evaluate or pressure passive political actors from some distant, outside vantage point. Rather, presidents, other political actors, and the media help construct public beliefs, attitudes, and preferences. [87]

Leadership and education can play a useful role in a mass democracy when they provide the public with the most accurate available information and allow individuals to form opinions that serve their interests. Leadership in the service of democratic deliberation fosters the country's permanent interests and appeals to durable majority sentiment.

Responsible leadership slips into manipulation when officeholders use the mass media to feed misinformation to the public. Manipulative leadership appeals to momentary popular emotions and is motivated by the drive to augment personal power. Nixon's relations with Harris and Gallup illustrate this model of manipulative leadership: he sought to influence the pollsters in order to distort information about public opinion and inflate artificially his personal political influence.*

* We thank Kristen Hammerback, Patrick Bova, Matt Stevens, Aida Llabaly, and especially Michael Zis for their assistance. We acknowledge the cooperation of George Gallup, Jr., John Davies, Louis Harris, Harry Dent, Dwight Chapin, Alexander Haig, and Stanley Greenberg in talking with us. John Berry, Herbert Gans, Al Gollin, Susan Herbst, Paul Lavrakas, Peter Miller, Ben Page, Richard Pious, Stanley Presser, Eleanor Singer, and Tom W. Smith provided us with challenging critical comments. Some of them may continue to disagree with our conclusions.


1. George Gallup and Saul Rae, The Pulse of Democracy New York: Simon and Schuster, 1940).

2. Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion, (New York: Macmillan, 1922); Walter Lippmann, The Phantom Public (New York: Macmillan, 1925); Walter Lippmann, Essays in the Public Philosophy (New York: New American Library, 1956); Benjamin Ginsberg, The Captive Public: How Mass Opinion Promotes State Power (New York: Basic Books, 1986); Susan Herbst, Numbered Voices: How Opinion Polling Has Shaped American Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1992).

3. For research on politicians' connection to polls, see the following: Lawrence Jacobs, The Health of Nations: Public Opinion and the Making of American and British Health Policy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993); Lawrence Jacobs, The Recoil Effect: Public Opinion and Policy Making in the United states and Britain," Comparative Politics 24 (January 1992): 199-217; Lawrence Jacobs, "Institutions and Culture: Health Policy and Public Opinion in the U.S. and Britain," World Politics 44 (January 1992): 179-209; Lawrence Jacobs and Robert Y. Shapiro, "Issues, Candidate Image, and Priming: The Use of Private Polls in Kennedy's 1960 Presidential Campaign," American Political Science Review 88 (September 1994): 527-40; Lawrence Jacobs and Robert Y. Shapiro, "Studying Substantive Democracy: Public Opinion, Institutions, and Policymaking," PS. Political Science and Politics 27 (March 1994): 9-16; Lawrence Jacobs and Robert Y. Shapiro, "The Rise of Presidential Polling: The Nixon White House in Historical Perspective," Public Opinion Quarterly 59 (Summer 1995): 163-195; Robert Hilderbrand, People and Power: Executive Management of Public Opinion in Foreign Affairs, 1897-1921 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1981); Robert Eisinger, "Pollster and Public Relations Advisor: Hadley Cantril and the Birth of Presidential Polling," (paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Public Opinion Research, 1994); Robert Eisinger, "Presidential Polling: The 1950s and Beyond" (paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, New York, 1994); Andrew Katz, "Using Public Opinion in Foreign Policy Formulation: The Nixon Administration and the Pursuit of Peace with Honor in Vietnam (paper presented at the 1995 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago); Michael Wheeler, Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: The Manipulation of Public Opinion in America (New York: Liveright, 1976).

4. Jacobs and Shapiro, "Rise of Presidential Polling." Louis Harris and Associates is no longer affiliated with Harris himself, who runs a separate operation. The Harris and Gallup firms are organized differently today from the way they were in Nixon's administration.

5. Pollsters include those who produce results for the mass media and those who conduct private research, usually for pay. Unlike private pollsters, who may be hired for decidedly partisan functions, the public pollsters are expected to be politically independent and neutral. Our focus here is on the public pollsters. For a discussion of the president's private polling operations, see the following: Jacobs and Shapiro, "Rise of Presidential Polling" and "Issues"; Jacobs, "Recoil Effect," Health of Nations, A Social Interpretation of Institutional Change: Public Opinion and Policy Making in the Enactment of the British National Health Service Act of 1946 and the American Medicare Act of 1965 (Ph.D. Dissertation, Columbia University, 1990). For additional discussion of Nixon's ties to public pollsters, see Wheeler, Lies; and Katz, "Using Public Opinion." Additional archival records on Nixon's relations with the public pollsters have not been released because of legal action by the former president's estate.

6. H. R. Haldeman, The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House, CD-ROM (Santa Monica, CA: Sony, 1992). 1/19/71 entry.

7. Interview of Harry Dent by Lawrence Jacobs, 9/9/94.

8. Haldeman Diaries, 1/17/71. Another illustration of Nixon alerting his aides to "watch for distortion of poll data' is contained in Haldeman Diaries, 8/20/72.

9. Haldeman Diaries, 1/19/71 entry. Nixon's use of his private polls to monitor and attempt to influence the public pollsters are contained in the following: HRH, (Haldeman) Box 134, Memo to Haldeman from Nixon, 9/22/69; PPF, Box 3, Memo to Haldeman from Nixon, 1/14/71. All the archival material cited in this article comes from the Nixon Presidential Materials Project, which is administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and is located in College Park, Maryland. See Jacobs and Shapiro. "Rise of Presidential Polling" for discussion of Nixon's private polling operation.

10. Colson. Box 99, Telephone Memo to Colson from Haldeman, 6/7/72.

11. Interview with Dwight Chapin by Lawrence Jacobs, 9/9/94.

12. Interview with George Gallup, Jr. by Lawrence Jacobs, 9/20/94.

13. CF PR 15. Box 53, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 5/4/70.

14. Jacobs and Shapiro, "Issues"; Jacobs, Health of Nations, "Recoil Effect," and Social Interpretation.

15. Dent interview.

16. CF PR15. Box 53, Memo to Dent from Peter Flanigan, 12/19/69; HRH, Box 135, Memo to President from Dent, 1/28/70.

17. CF PR15. Box 53, Memo to Colson from Haldeman, 6/22/70; CF PR15, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin. 6/22/70.

18. HRH, Box 350, Memo to Haldeman from Klein, 12/4/70.

19. Haldeman Diaries, 8/8/69 and 10/2/69.

20. PPF, Box 4, Memo to John Ehrlichman from Nixon, 12/28/72.

21. CF PR 15, Box 53, Memo to Dent from Flanigan. 12/19/69.

22. HRH. Box 334, Memo to Lawrence Higby from Gordon C. Strachan, 6/28/71.

23. HRH, Box 355. "A Study of the Issues of Concern to the American People," conducted by Louis Harris and Associates. 10/71.

24. CF PR15. Memo to Haldeman from Strachan. 4/11/72.

25. HRH. Box 355. Memo to Ehrlichman from Haldeman relaying presidents suggestions, 8/12/71: Colson. Box 69. Letter to Harper from Harris. 7/29/71; HRH. Box 355, Memo to Haldeman from Cliff Miller and Strachan. 8/2/71: HRH, Box 355. Memo to Haldeman from Miller and Strachan, 8/ 27/7l.

26. Interview with Harris by Lawrence Jacobs. 9/23/94 and 9/6/95; statement to Lawrence Jacobs by Louis Harris. 9/21/94 (subsequently referred to as Harris statement).

27 . Interview with John Davies by Lawrence Jacobs. 9/21/94.

28. Colson. Box 69. "Telephone Call Recommendation," handwritten note that "call made at 10:27 AM today, July 31"; Memo from Colson to George Bell, 6/23/71 in Bruce Oudes, ed., From the President (New York: Harper & Row. 1989).

29. HRH. Box 335. Memo to Haig from Colson. 8/4/71.

30. Harris interview, 9/23/94 and 9/6/95. Six months prior to Colson's memo about Harris's trip to the Soviet Union, Haig reported to Colson that he and Kissinger met with Harris and requested that he "pass on to us any intelligence he picked up on the Soviets." Haig wrote that Harris left the meeting "confident he was performing an important mission." Reflecting back on his relations with Harris, Haig suggested in a recent interview that Harris had an exaggerated sense of his journey's importance. Interview with Alexander Haig by Lawrence Jacobs, 9/26/94; Oudes, From the President; Colson. Box 69, Letter to Colson from Harris, 9/28/71.

31. Dent interview.

32. Evidence that Nixon regularly received advance information about Gallup and Harris's plans are contained in the following entries in Haldeman Diaries: 10/31/69; 11/22/69; 4/6/70; 7/23/70; 1/17/ 71; 2/26/71.

33. HRH, Box 134, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 11/10/69. A similar episode is reported in the following: HRH, Box 134, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 12/5/69. Attorney General John Mitchell branded the demonstration as not peaceful in the New York Times report and Gallup asked a moratorium question. "250,000 Protestors Stage Peaceful Rally in Washington; Militants Stir Clashes Later," New York Times, 17 November 1969; George Gallup, The Gallup Poll, Volume 3: 1959-71 (New York: Random House, 1972). 1224-1225.

34. Evidence that the White House received polls before publication are contained in the following: HRH, Box 134, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 9/26/69; HRH, Box 134, List forthcoming Gallup results, 10/2/69; HRH, Box 134, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 12/9/69; HRH, Box 134, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin. 1/14/70; HRH, Box 350, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 3/17/70; HRH, Box 350, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 4/28/70; CF PR15, Box 53, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 5/4/70; CF PR 15, Box 53, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 7/22/70; HRH, Box 135, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 8/19/70; Chapin, Box 22, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 11/23/70; HRH, Box 350, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 4/9/71; HRH, Box 410, Memo to Haldeman from Colson, 9/3/71; HRH, Box 411, 53, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 9/6/71; HRH, Box 410, Memo from Colson, 9/30/71; HRH, Box 134, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 10/10/69; Colson, Box 69, Memo to Haldeman from Colson, 2/17/72; HRH, Box 135, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 8/4/ 71. Additional evidence is contained in the Nixon archives in the following boxes: HRH, Box 134; and Chapin. Box 22. Finally. the following memo discussing the entire operation for processing advance polling information: HRH, Box 334, Memo to Lawrence Higby, Bruce Kehrlie, Pat McKee, Kathy Bachman, Lynrae McClintock, and Diana Gwin, from Strachan, 6/14/71.

35. PR 15, Box 53, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 10/8/69.

36. Davies interview; Gallup interview.

37. Haldeman Diaries, Appointment Log indicates that Harris met with the President on 10/13/71 and 7/31/72.

38. Haldeman Diaries, 9/22/72. Evidence of Harris's contacts with the White House during the 1972 campaign are contained in the following: Colson, Box 102, Transcription of telephone conversation between Colson and Robert Teeter, 10/6/72 and 10/19/72; Nixon personally met with Harris on July 31, 1972 (Haldeman Diaries. Appointment Log).

39. Colson, Box 1, Memo to Colson from Harris, 3/2/72.

40. Jacobs, "Recoil Effect" and Social Interpretation, Bruce E. Altschuler, "Lyndon Johnson and the Public Polls." Public Opinion Quarterly 50 (Fall 1986): 285-299; Wheeler, Lies, Eisinger, "Pollster" and "Presidential Polling."

41. Chapin, Box 22, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 11/23/70; Haldeman Diaries, 613/70.

42. Haldeman Diaries, 7/24/70 and 7/28/70.

43. Interviews with Dent and Chapin.

44. Haldeman Diaries, 4/2/71 entry.

45. HRH. Box 403, Memo to Haldeman from Nixon, 12/30/69; Haldeman Diaries, 2/7/73.

46. HRH. Box 134, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 11/18/69.

47. Colson, Box 69, Memo to Haldeman from Colson, 9/24/71.

48. Harris statement.

49. Chapin, Box 22. Memo to Haldeman from Chapin re "Gallup Telephone Poll --The President's Speech," 11/3/69. White House preparations to plan questions with Gallup are discussed in the following memo: HRH, Box 125, Memo from Butterfield to Harry Dent, Peter Flanigan, Jim Keogh, Henry Kissinger, Herb Klein, Jeb Magruder, Lyn Nofziger, William Safire, Charles West, Jim Allison, and Dick Garbett, regarding "November 3rd Game Plan," 10/28/69.

50. Chapin interview.

51. The Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon 1969 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1971), 913.

52. The White House suggested five questions to Gallup. Gallup's press release and compendium do not provide exact question wordings. Neither the Gallup Organization, the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, nor the National Opinion Research Center had copies of the Gallup Survey questionnaire. Because the original Gallup questionnaire is unavailable, we compared the White House proposals with the words used by Gallup in its press release. Our assumption was that Gallup's press release would -- as is the normal practice -- closely follow the actual question wordings in writing up its results. Here are three comparisons of White House suggestions with Gallup's write-ups: The White House proposed that Gallup ask: "In light of the President's speech, do you think moratoriums and public demonstrations are helpful or harmful to the attainment of peace?" Gallup reported the following based on its study: "By a 6-to-1 ratio the persons contacted agree with President Nixon that moratoriums and public demonstrations are harmful to the attainment of peace in Vietnam..." In addition, the White House suggested that Gallup ask the question, "In general, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with his program for troop withdrawal as set forth in his speech?" Gallup reported, '"Eight in every 10 (77 percent) of those contacted express satisfaction with President Nixon's program for troop withdrawal, 13 percent express dissatisfaction, while another 10 percent are undecided." The White House also suggested asking, "Do you think his proposals will bring about a settlement of the Vietnam War-or not?" Gallup reported that "About half the people interviewed (49 percent) think President Nixon's proposals are likely to bring about a settlement of the war, but 25 percent think they are not likely to do so, and another 26 percent are undecided." This comparison suggests that the subjects and words of the White House questions appear in the Gallup description of its results. (We have italicized the sections where the White House suggestions overlap with Gallup's report.) Finally, the Gallup questions were not asked during the preceding or following year. Gallup, The Gallup Poll, 1959-1971, 2222; Gallup Special Release, Report No. 54, December 1969.

53. Chapin reported to Haldeman shortly after Gallup surveys that reporters from the St. Louis Post Dispatch and Newsday queried Gallup over whether the pollster ran White House suggestions in formulating its question. According to Davies, Davies "responded that they are in touch quite frequently with the White House on a general basis; however, the White House did not write the questions." HRH, Box 134, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 11/10/69.

54. HRH, Box 134. Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 11/18/69.

55. Gallup interview; Gallup, Gallup Poll, 1959-1971, 2231-2. In March 1970. Chapin reports that a trial heat poll involving Nixon, Humphrey and Wallace was "done at our suggestion." HRH, Box 350. Memo to Haldeman from Chapin. 3/17/70.

56. Gallup and Davies interviews.

57. HRH, Box 4 10. Memo to Haldeman from Colson, 1/11/72.

58. Louis Harris. The Harris Survey Yearbook of Public Opinion, 1972: A Compendium of Current American Attitudes (New York: Louis Harris and Associates. Inc.. 1976). 81-83.

59. The Harris Survey, For Release, Monday 17 January 1972. "Muskie Pulls Up Even with Nixon" by Louis Harris, obtained from the National Opinion Research Center, Paul Sheatsley Library, University of Chicago.

60. Colson. Box 69, Memo to Haldeman from Colson regarding "Attached Harris Poll," 9/24/71; Colson. Box 69, "Harris Public Opinion Analysis, For Release: September 30th, 1971," by Louis Harris; Harris interview and statement; Colson, Box 69, "Conversation with Lou Harris, September 27, 1971", Chicago Tribune, "Presidential Sweepstake to Be Battle for Plurality," 9/30/71.

61. HRH, Box 410, Memo to Haldeman from Colson, 1/11/72.

62. The Harris Survey, For Release, 27 January 1972. "India-Pakistan Hurts Nixon," by Louis Harris, obtained from the National Opinion Research Center, Paul Sheatsley Library, University of Chicago: The Harris Survey, For Release, 24 January 1972, "Loyalties Divided on India-Pakistan Conflict," by Louis Harris, Archived in the National Opinion Research Center; Chicago Tribune "Nixon Loses Points in Indo-Pakistan Affair," 24 January 1972; Washington Post, "Nixon Gets Negative Marks on India-Pakistan Crisis Role," 24 January 1972.

63. HRH, Box 410, Memo to Haldeman from Higby, 11/17/71.

64. HRH. Box 410, Memo to Haldeman from Colson, 1/11/72.

65. Interviews with Harris, 9/23/94 and 9/6/95.

66. Louis Harris, The Harris Survey Yearbook of Public Opinion, 1971: A Compendium of Current American Attitudes (New York: Louis Harris and Associates, Inc., 1976), 3.

67. Chicago Tribune, "Nixon Gains Public Trust in Foreign Policy Moves," 29 November 1971; Washington Post, "Nixon's Rating Now is 53% Favorable." 29 November 1971.

68. CF PR15 Box 53, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin. 7/22/70.

69. Gallup Opinion Index, August 1970, Report No. 62. Princeton, NJ; New York Times, "Nixon Popularity Increases in Poll," 30 July 1970.

70. American Association for Public Opinion Research, "Code of Professional Ethics and Practices," Public Opinion Quarterly 24 (Fall 1960): 529-30: American Association for Public Opinion Research, "Code of Professional Ethics and Practices" in Paul Sheatsley and Warren Mitofsky, eds., A Meeting Place: The History of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (U.S.: American Association for Public Opinion Research. 1992). Evidence that opinion researchers operated under clear standards during Nixon's presidency is discussed in Albert Gollin, "AAPOR and the Media" in ibid.

71. George Gallup, The Sophisticated Poll Watcher's Guide (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Opinion Press, 1972),188-89.

72. HRH, Box 134, Memo to Haldeman from Chapin, 9/25/69.

73. Davies interview.

74. Harris statement, 9/21/94.

75. Haig interview.

76. CF PR 15, Memo to Ken Cole from W. Richard Howard, 2/22/73 (marked "Administratively Confidential/ Eyes Only").

77. Colson reported to Haldeman in April 1971 that Harris would not publish results that indicated that Nixon's popularity rating had sunk to 46-53 split. But, both Washington Post and Chicago Tribune (5/13/71) published Harris's columns with the 46-53 split. It was only after, however, new data became available that Harris ran the 46-53 split; the new set of data showed a 47-50 split, which was heralded as an improvement. HRH. Box 410, Memo to Strachan from Higby, 4/26/71 (Haldeman's handwritten notes attached). Washington Post, "President's Job Rating Rises," 13 May 1971; Chicago Tribune, "President Gain in Popularity," 13 May, 1971.

78. Albert Gollin, "Exploiting the Liaison Between Polling and the Press," Public Opinion Quarterly 44 (Winter 1980): 445-461; Thomas Mann and Gary Orren, eds., Media Polls in American Politics (Washington. DC: Brookings Institution. 1992).

79. For an excellent review of the holocaust controversy, see Tom W. Smith. "Review: The Holocaust Denial Controversy," Public Opinion Quarterly 59 (Summer 1995): 269-95.

80. Gallup interview; Harris statement.

81. Interview with Stanley Greenberg by Lawrence Jacobs, 26 January 1995.

82. Jacobs and Shapiro, "Rise of Presidential Polling."

83. Gallup interview.

84. Chapin interview.

85. Jacobs, "Recoil Effect" and Social Interpretation.

86. Jacobs and Shapiro, "Issues"; Jacobs, "Institutions and Culture" and Health of Nations.

87. V. 0. Key, Public Opinion and American Democracy (New York: Knopf. 1961): Benjamin I. Page and Robert Y. Shapiro, The Rational Public: Fifty Years of Trends in Americans' Policy Preferences (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992); John Zaller, The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

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