George Gallup, the son of a Nebraska dairy farmer, once told Time magazine that he was obsessed with numbers and measurement. As a student at the University of Iowa and editor of The Daily Iowan in the 1920s, he wanted to know precisely who was reading his newspaper and which parts they liked best.
In those days, a common way to gauge reader interest was to yank the crossword puzzle out of the paper for a week and count how many people complained, according to Time. But Gallup was different. With his newspaper in hand, he confronted readers directly and asked them exactly what they liked and didn’t like about it.
Gallup’s interest in data led him to a career as perhaps our country’s best-known public opinion pollster. At its peak, his American Institute of Public Opinion — what we know as the Gallup Poll — operated in a dozen countries and released opinion data to newspapers four times a week.
Gallup wasn’t always right, but he was right often enough that opinion polling and surveys are now part of the American mainstream, including at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
In June we conducted our second annual donor survey, inviting supporters to share feedback about why they support the freedom movement and the Mackinac Center.
We asked them which free-market issues are most important and why. We also invited donors to share information about themselves and give us feedback on our effectiveness, both in advancing policy and in treating our donors well.
If you are one of the supporters who took this survey, then please know how much we appreciate your feedback.
When you tell us what matters to you and share your ideas, you are making an invaluable contribution that helps the Mackinac Center hone our thinking, make the most of our strengths and address our weaknesses.
This year in particular, your responses will help the freedom movement around the country. That is because, like the Mackinac Center, dozens of free-market think tanks surveyed their donors in June with the help of the consulting firm American Philanthropic. After combining and analyzing the confidential responses from all the participating groups, American Philanthropic will share its findings and give advice on how well the freedom movement is doing at spreading its message, engaging supporters and attracting new members.
We look forward to sharing the Mackinac Center’s results as well as the national findings. Look for them in a future issue of IMPACT.
Gallup wasn’t always right. He and other pollsters famously failed to predict President Harry S. Truman’s victory over Thomas Dewey. Later, Gallup said that his firm quit polling too soon before Election Day.
Here at the Mackinac Center, we recognize that donor surveys are a guide, not a decree. Circumstances and opinion change over time. So while we continue to survey our donors, it is our hope that you feel free as Mackinac Center supporters to contact us whenever you’d like to share your opinion. You can do that by calling us at 989-631-0900 and asking to speak to a member of the Advancement department, or sending an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you again for your support.