Scope and Content of Collection
Wirthlin File Number System
Title: Richard Wirthlin papers
Date (inclusive): 1967-2005
Collection Number: 2007C27
Hoover Institution Archives
Language of Material:
248 cubic foot boxes, 2 oversize boxes
(310.8 linear feet)
Polling data, reports, studies, correspondence, speeches, memoranda, and printed matter, relating to American public opinion
on domestic political and foreign policy issues. Includes polls conducted on behalf of Ronald Reagan in conjunction with his
campaigns for governor of California and president of the United States, as well as polling during his presidency.
Hoover Institution Archives
Collection is mainly stored off-site. It may be possible to have a limited number of boxes brought to the archives reading
room for examination. A minimum of two days notice is required. Please contact the Hoover Institution Archives for further
The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to
copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives
at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see
or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.
For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.
[Identification of item], Richard Wirthlin papers, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.
Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 2007, with additional increments through 2010.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find
the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at
. Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number
of boxes listed in this finding aid.
Ronald Reagan subject collection, Hoover Institution Archives
Citizens for Reagan records, Hoover Institution Archives
Richard Bitner Wirthlin was born in Salt Lake City on March 15, 1931, the son of Joseph L. and Madeline Bitner Wirthlin. He
earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Utah and his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley.
Wirthlin noted that he became interested in economics and politics while doing Mormon missionary work in Switzerland and Austria
An economist turned political consultant and pollster, Wirthlin began conducting survey research in 1964. Many of his early
clients were political candidates in Utah and Arizona, where he taught economics at Brigham Young University and Arizona State
Wirthlin's company, originally based in Los Angeles and successively named Decision Making Information, the Wirthlin Group
and Wirthlin Worldwide, also did polling for Margaret Thatcher and Barry Goldwater, among other political clients. The company
was sold to Harris Interactive in 2004, with Wirthlin serving on its board until retiring in 2007. Wirthlin's companies showed
how to integrate different kinds of data - polling, census, political - to measure the electorate's opinions and moods.
Wirthlin first met California Governor Ronald Reagan in 1968, and conducted his first survey for Reagan in that year. He did
a number of additional research projects between 1968 and 1976 for Governor Reagan. When Reagan decided to run for the Republican
presidential nomination in 1980, he turned to Wirthlin and his company. When Reagan won the White House, Wirthlin moved to
Washington, D.C., and continued to provide regular survey research and counsel on strategy and communications through the
first term, for the re-election campaign in 1984, and through the second term until Reagan left office in January 1989. It
was the most comprehensive program of public opinion research ever undertaken by a president of the United States.
"Background on Wirthlin-Reagan Books," Hoover Institution Archives correspondence with Bryce Bassett, 2002
Scope and Content of Collection
The papers include a significant amount of polling data, reports, and studies, relating to American public opinion on domestic
political and foreign policy issues, often political candidates or general mood of the electorate at a particular moment in
time during the 1970s and 1980s.
A large portion of the collection is based on political polling studies. The deliverable for each study consisted of computer
cross-tabulations of the survey data, and sometimes charts, graphs, and written analysis and interpretation of the survey
results. Organized in bound volumes, the books offer a unique snapshot of public opinion on particular topics. Large studies
were divided into multiple books, so one project may have 2 or 3 volumes.
Along with overall studies, flash results are documents that contain quick analysis and charts from major national studies.
Flash results were prepared quickly after the survey, and given to the client as a "topline result" from the poll, before
the full analysis could be prepared and the cross-tabs printed and bound and analyzed.
The books are arranged in the system created by Wirthlin's firm, in a numeric sequence by client, described in detail below.
The books are divided into two groups by topic, Reagan Books and Political Polling Books. When an additional increment of
materials arrived at the archives at a later date, two more groups were created, Incremental Reagan Books and Incremental
Political Polling Books.
In addition to the books, the papers contain Wirthlin's Files, which include correspondence, speeches, memoranda, interview
transcripts, calendars, and printed matter, relating to Wirthlin's work, Ronald Reagan, and American public opinion on domestic
political and foreign policy issues. Of particular interest is the document
Personal and Public Perspectives on the Reagan Presidency, written by Wirthlin in 1991 and found in box 269. The Files contain many similar materials to the books, so researchers
should be sure to check both sets of materials for documentation on a particular topic.
Wirthlin File Number System
A numbering system was developed by Wirthlin's firm to keep track of the books on the company shelves and inventories. Most
books have the number on the spine of the book. The Hoover Institution Archives has retained this 9-digit system of organization
so that all the studies for one client are shelved together, in chronological order. The 9-digit number looks like this: 699-002-056.
The format is DGG-CCC-NNN, where:
D = division of the company that conducted the study. 1 was media, 2 government, 4 marketing, 6 political. Everything in the
Hoover Institution Archives collection starts with a 6.
GG = geographic area of the study, where the survey was conducted. Statewide surveys had two digit numbers from 01 (Alabama)
through 51 (Wyoming). 98 meant a "regional" survey, something conducted in more than one state, but not nationally. 99 meant
a national survey.
CCC = client number within that region and division, assigned sequentially starting with 001
NNN = study number, for that client, within that region and division, assigned sequentially starting with 001
So, 699-002-056 translates to "the 56th study conducted for the company's 2nd national political client."
699-002 is the Republican National Committee, for whom Wirthlin worked before Reagan became president, so the first national
Reagan study in 1980 is numbered 699-002-011. Pre-dating that were studies done for "Citizens for Reagan" in 1975, the 7th
national political client, hence 699-007. In 1979, Reagan's second run for the nomination was considered by the firm as a
new client, so "Reagan for President" became 699-016. It kept that number for Reagan/Bush, and later Reagan/Bush '84. Because
each state has its own sequential client numbering system, statewide surveys done for Reagan have a different middle client
number in every state. In Alabama, the RNC was 601-006, in Arizona 603-021, and in California 605-067, etc.
Each research project also had a four-digit project number, used internally within the company to keep track of all the phases
of the study and the billing. A version number was added because a given project number or file number could have several
volumes, sometimes dozens. Many of these books have a book number handwritten on the title page or elsewhere.
In addition to standard state two-letter postal codes, there are a number of organizations referred to in common abbreviations,
Republican National Committee (RNC)
Decision Making Information (DMI)
National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC)
National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC)
Republican Congressional Campaign Committee (RCCC)
Subjects and Indexing Terms
California--Politics and government--1951-
Public opinion--United States.
United States--Foreign relations--1981-1989.
United States--Politics and government--1981-1989.