Warren Mitofsky Papers
Scope and Content
The Warren Mitofsky Papers span the years 1948 through 2006. A large majority of the papers concern Mr. Mitofsky’s involvement with the major news networks in various primaries and elections in American and foreign elections during this period, including his conducting of exit polls, which he invented in 1967. The collection includes polls, memoranda, correspondence, television transcripts, and election projection models of the major news organizations and polling groups such as ABC, NBC, CBS, Voter Research and Surveys (VRS), Voter News Service (VNS), and Mitofsky International. Many administrative papers, such as internal memoranda, meeting minutes, handbooks, manuals, and company proposals are found for these companies as well. Another portion of this collection is comprised of articles and papers on the practice and methodology of polling and the various fields involved with it. In particular, multiple sections involve the controversy of exit polls in affecting elections, with a majority concentrating on the elections of 1984-1985. Materials within this subject include legislative reports, testimony before House and Senate hearings, and journal and newspaper articles. The Papers also contain of legal briefs of cases in which he was involved, as well as associated affidavits and witness testimony. Many articles written by Mitofsky, as well as correspondence with others in the field of polling and politics, can found within his personal papers.
The collection also includes documentation of the Roper Center while it was affiliated with the University of Connecticut as well as a transcript of an interview with Elmo Roper documenting his early career.
- undated, 1893-2006
The collection is open and available for research.
Restrictions on Use and Copyright Information
Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from the owner(s) of the copyright.
Warren Mitofsky, American political pollster, was born on September 17, 1934, in the Bronx, NY. He attended and graduated from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, and did graduate work at the University of North Carolina. At the University of Minnesota he became a doctoral candidate in mass communications but did not complete his degree. After ending his graduate studies, Mitofsky began working for the U.S. Census Bureau. While there, he designed many surveys on demographics including those for the poverty program and presidential commissions. Also during this time of employment, he developed, along with his colleague Joseph Waksberg, an efficient random digit dialing sampling method that would be widely implemented and an industry standard for many years. Mitofsky left the Census Bureau for CBS News in 1967 to become the executive director of the election and survey unit, a post he held until 1990. Inspired by George Fine’s surveys of moviegoers after they left the theater, he conducted and invented the first exit poll in the 1967 Kentucky Gubernatorial Election. At the same time he developed the analysis and projection systems used to call elections. Exit polls were first used in national elections in 1972 and remain in use to the present day. In 1975, Mitofsky started the CBS News/New York Times poll and directed it for the next fifteen years. During this time he developed and implemented many improvements to the system of exit poll sampling and statistical methods. In 1989 he proposed an independent exit poll organization to provide exit polls for the television networks. The news networks rejected this idea wanting to retain more control over the polls. In 1990, he instead started and became the director of Voter Research & Surveys (VRS). An interview with Everett Ladd discussing the formation of VRS can be found here. VRS was a consortium of the major of the four major television news networks of ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC who would pool their resources to conduct exit polling and predict election results. In 1994 they merged with News Election Service (NES) to become Voter News Service (VNS). In 1993, Warren left VRS to create his own independent company, Mitofsky International. This new organization handled exit polls not only in the U.S. but around the world, including Mexico, Russia and the Philippines. Mitofsky’s vision of an independent polling company handling exit polling came to fruition in the 2003 California Gubernatorial Recall. In this and subsequent elections, Mitofsky International partnered with Edison Media Research to conduct exit polls for ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC, and The Associated Press while maintaining complete authority over technical decisions. Mitofsky was also very involved with polling outside the news industry. He was president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), the National Council on Public Polls (NCPP), and the Research Industry Coalition (RIC). In 1995, he was a fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and in the same year he was the Howard R. Marsh Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan. In 1999, AAPOR gave him their lifetime achievement award, hailing ''his continuing concern for survey quality.'' He was also a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and served on the board of the Roper Center and the NY State Committee on Open Government. Warren Mitofsky died September 1, 2006.
33.7 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
The Warren Mitofsky Papers span the years 1948 through 2006. A large majority of the papers concern Mitofsky’s involvement with the major news networks in various primaries and elections in American and foreign elections during this period, including his conducting of exit polls, which he invented in 1967.
The collection is comprised of twelve series. Series 1: Elections, Series 2: Public Opinion and Data Gathering, Series 3: Election Projections, Series 4: Litigation, Series 5: Legislative Materials, Series 6: Surveys and Studies, Series 7: Political Articles and Papers, Series 8: Company and Organization Materials, Series 9: Personal, Series 10: Magazines and Journals, Series 11: Multimedia, and Series 12: Newspapers and Oversize.
Provenance and Acquisition
The collection was donated by Mr. Mitofsky's family in 2008.
- Clippings (information artifacts) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Correspondence Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Memorandums Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Public opinion Subject Source: Fast
- Public opinion polls Subject Source: Fast
- United States (nation) Subject Source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
- Warren Mitofsky Papers
- Archives & Special Collections staff
- 2012 March
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- This collection was processed with the generous support of the Mitofsky Family
Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository
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