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Creator of "The Pollsters": Lindsay Rogers and the Democratic Implications of Polling and Deliberation

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This paper discusses the ideas of Lindsay Rogers (1891-1970), a political scientist who was Burgess Professor of Public Law at Columbia University from 1929-1959, and who coined the term “pollster.” Rogers’s career spanned great changes in political scientists, many of which he criticized. I argue that Rogers’s work should be recovered because it illuminates contemporary debates about deliberation and about the political uses of public opinion. Furthermore, uncovering Rogers’s views helps us to better understand the contours of our discipline. Rogers warned of the problems associated with politicians and the media attending too closely to public views, as expressed through polls. His 1949 book, "The Pollsters," was aimed squarely at George Gallup’s contention that public opinion polls would allow greater awareness of the people’s will and would therefore increase democratic responsiveness and accountability. Rogers not only criticized the use of polls, but emphasized democratic deliberation among institutionally based elites. In “The American Senate,” published in 1926, Rogers argued the filibuster was an essential means for ensuring open and complete deliberation. Rogers wrote, “complete freedom of debate and the absence of closure except as a real emergency measure are more indispensable than in respect of legislation.” Given the recent attention paid to deliberation, as well as the construction of public opinion and its use in the public realm, a recovery of Rogers’s work on public opinion and debate will cast new light on the democratic implications of polls and their place in public deliberation.

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roger (119), polit (100), public (74), opinion (59), scienc (48), poll (46), could (31), pollster (27), american (25), institut (23), deliber (23), new (22), gallup (22), univers (22), 1949a (21), govern (20), democrat (19), democraci (19), research (17), discuss (15), view (15),

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public opinion, polls, deliberation, polling, Senate, filibuster, institutions, democratic theory, behavioralism, scientism, disciplinary history, history of political science
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Fried, Amy. "Creator of "The Pollsters": Lindsay Rogers and the Democratic Implications of Polling and Deliberation" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Marriott Wardman Park, Omni Shoreham, Washington Hilton, Washington, DC, Sep 01, 2005 <Not Available>. 2013-12-17 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p41642_index.html>

APA Citation:

Fried, A. , 2005-09-01 "Creator of "The Pollsters": Lindsay Rogers and the Democratic Implications of Polling and Deliberation" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Marriott Wardman Park, Omni Shoreham, Washington Hilton, Washington, DC Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2013-12-17 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p41642_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This paper discusses the ideas of Lindsay Rogers (1891-1970), a political scientist who was Burgess Professor of Public Law at Columbia University from 1929-1959, and who coined the term “pollster.” Rogers’s career spanned great changes in political scientists, many of which he criticized. I argue that Rogers’s work should be recovered because it illuminates contemporary debates about deliberation and about the political uses of public opinion. Furthermore, uncovering Rogers’s views helps us to better understand the contours of our discipline. Rogers warned of the problems associated with politicians and the media attending too closely to public views, as expressed through polls. His 1949 book, "The Pollsters," was aimed squarely at George Gallup’s contention that public opinion polls would allow greater awareness of the people’s will and would therefore increase democratic responsiveness and accountability. Rogers not only criticized the use of polls, but emphasized democratic deliberation among institutionally based elites. In “The American Senate,” published in 1926, Rogers argued the filibuster was an essential means for ensuring open and complete deliberation. Rogers wrote, “complete freedom of debate and the absence of closure except as a real emergency measure are more indispensable than in respect of legislation.” Given the recent attention paid to deliberation, as well as the construction of public opinion and its use in the public realm, a recovery of Rogers’s work on public opinion and debate will cast new light on the democratic implications of polls and their place in public deliberation.

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Document Type: application/pdf
Page count: 13
Word count: 5803
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Creator of “The Pollsters”: Lindsay Rogers and the democratic implications of polling and deliberation Amy Fried Department of Political Science University of Maine Orono Maine 04469 amy.fried@umit.maine.edu Prepared for delivery at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association September 1-4. Washington D.C. When Lindsay Rogers published his critical work The Pollsters in 1949 polling had just sustained a public relations debacle. Epitomized by the image of a grinning President Truman holding up the “Dewey Defeats Truman”
Science 19: 66-75. Rogers Lindsay. 1949a. The Pollsters: Public Opinion Politics and Democratic Leadership. New York: A.A. Knopf. Rogers Lindsay. 1949b. Notes on the Language of Politics. Political Science Quarterly 64: 481- 506. Rogers Lindsay. 1958. The Reminiscences of Lindsay Rogers [Interview 1 5 February 1958 by Donald Shaughnessy]. Oral History Research Office: Columbia University. Rogers Lindsay. 1964. Notes on “Political Science.” Political Science Quarterly 79: 209-232. Rogers Lindsay. 1973. Reflections on Writing Biography of Public Men. Political Science


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