Polls in Election Campaigns

July 26, 1968

Report Outline
Public Opinion Polls in the 1968 Campaign
Development of Effectual Polling Methods
Debate on the Value or Danger of Polls

Public Opinion Polls in the 1968 Campaign

Political polls, both public and private, have exerted great influence on the 1968 election campaign to date, and they no doubt will continue to do so until the votes are cast on November 5. The decision by Gov. George Romney of Michigan last February to bow out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination—even before the New Hampshire primary—was based on polls which showed him hopelessly behind Richard M. Nixon. President Johnson's announcement that he would not seek re-election was made on the day, March 31, that a Gallup Poll reported his popularity among American voters had dropped to an all-time low. New York Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller's apparently slim chance for the Republican nomination rests on his ability to outperform Nixon in the polls.

Rockefeller's poll-oriented strategy became a matter of public record on July 9, when he challenged Nixon and the Republican National Committee to join him in co-sponsoring a national poll to determine who would be the party's strongest presidential nominee. Rockefeller said the proposed poll could take one of two forms: (1) A poll of voters in each of the 50 states or (2) a more limited survey of opinion in key industrial states—Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and possibly California. Nixon spokesmen and Republican National Chairman Ray C. Bliss rejected the proposal.

The two leading published nationwide polls, the Gallup Poll and the Harris Survey, both plan to sample voter opinion shortly before the start of the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach on Aug. 5 and of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago on Aug. 26. Results of these polls conceivably could sway undecided delegates and thus play some part in selection of presidential nominees.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Polling
Feb. 06, 2015  Political Polling
Jul. 15, 1994  Foreign Policy and Public Opinion
Sep. 16, 1988  Benefits and Dangers of Opinion Polls
Mar. 05, 1976  Public Opinion Polling
Jul. 26, 1968  Polls in Election Campaigns
Oct. 12, 1960  Political Polls
Nov. 08, 1940  Measurement of Public Opinion
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