Founder of The Harris Poll, Louis Harris, Died Saturday December 17, 2016

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Louis Harris, one of America’s best-known and most respected pollsters, passed away Saturday December 17, 2016 at his home in Key West, FL at the age of 95.

A household name for much of the 20th century, Mr. Harris dedicated over four decades to measuring and analyzing consumer and voter sentiment using increasingly inventive approaches to sampling and survey design, and in so doing, advanced the art, science, and industry of market research and public opinion polling.

He was “a true original, who pushed the envelope beyond any of his predecessors in the design and use of surveys,” said Humphrey Taylor, chairman emeritus of The Harris Poll and Mr. Harris’s successor at Louis Harris & Associates.

Born in New Haven, CT on January 6, 1921, Mr. Harris earned a degree in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1942 and conducted his first poll in 1945 when, as a Navy officer stationed in Boston, he was asked by the Navy to evaluate sailor morale.

In 1947, he began his research career as Elmo Roper’s assistant (and later partner), and in 1956, he founded Louis Harris & Associates, which focused on market research for companies like American Airlines and Standard Oil, and political polling for both Democratic and Republican candidates, most famously, John F. Kennedy in 1958 for his Senate re-election campaign.

In 1963, Mr. Harris launched The Harris Poll and became a syndicated columnist as well as public opinion analyst for CBS News (and later ABC News). His columns were published in more than 100 newspapers over more than 20 years, and Harris Polls were often in the news for covering ground-breaking topics and making accurate predictions.   

Mr. Harris “pioneered the testing of messages that could be used by (and against) candidates, leaders, and advocates,” elaborated Mr. Taylor. “His friends and clients included three presidents, leading members of Congress, and the CEOs of some of the world’s leading companies including Exxon, Ford, AT&T, and Johnson & Johnson.”

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The Harris Poll® #69, December 27, 2016

By Kathy Steinberg, Managing Editor, The Harris Poll