THE CALIFORNIA DIVIDE
THE SUCCESS OF George Gallup and his colleagues, Elmo Roper and Archibald Crossley, inspired others to engage in this exciting new enterprise of poll-taking. There was hardly enough room at the national level for any more pollsters, however, since Gallup was already publishing weekly poll reports, and Roper and Crossley were publishing occasional poll reports as well. Many of these new pollsters, therefore, turned to the states, and by the early 1950s they had founded polls in Texas, Iowa, Minnesota, Maryland, Colorado, Washington and California. Some efforts were made in other states as well, but they soon died. These "Friendly Pollers" formed a sort of fraternity, meeting once a year at Gallup's farm in New Jersey, before attending the annual meeting of the recently formed American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR).
The earliest state poll was in Texas, founded by Joe Belden, and from the immediate post-World War II period until the 1960s, the Texas Poll was the most prominent source of public opinion in the state. But the poll was never a money-maker, and Belden and Associates evolved into a firm that specialized in market research for the media, not policy and issues research. Eventually, the Texas Poll faded from view. Today, the Texas Poll belongs to Texas A & M University, which acquired the name and the records from Belden's firm. Belden himself is retired, and in 1991 received the annual AAPOR Award for distinguished accomplishment in the field of survey research.