For more than 80 years, people around the world have looked to Gallup to deliver timely, relevant, and insightful research on what society thinks and feels. But you don’t need any poll to tell you that people are outraged by the market research firm’s recent behavior: Gallup’s editor-in-chief is in hot water after using polls to ask the public if he could pull off a gold earring.
In a clear abuse of power, Gallup editor-in-chief Dr. Frank Newport had his national polling team randomly sample 15,000 Americans last week on whether or not on he could rock a pierced ear. He had the analysts include several questions asking respondents if Newport would look good with a gold hoop or a gold stud, and if they thought he could do one of those ones on the top of the ear, going so far as to ask if that would be “too edgy” or “the right amount of edgy” for his persona.
And it’s very clear that Dr. Newport knew he was being unethical when he used the revered polling service for personal style reasons. His earring queries were nestled in a series asking Americans what they thought of Trump’s aggressive remarks on North Korea at the U.N. last week, clearly hoping to get some feedback without drawing too much attention to his power move.
Just look at this screenshot of one of the questions and try not being completely disgusted:
Look, Dr. Newport, we’d all love to poll the nation for statistically significant data on whether we would look killer in a gold earring, but that doesn’t make it right to use your influence at the largest polling company in the country to do it.
The Gallup poll is a revered organization that policy makers and journalists rely on to understand what Americans think about key political and social matters. To turn it into a personal litmus test to bolster his confidence on something he probably already knows he wants to do was never going to fly with the American people.