Former Harris Interactive Board Member, Dr. Richard B. Wirthlin, Died Wednesday March 16, 2011

Research Industry Loses a True Giant

Mar 17, 2011, 11:40 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, March 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Richard B. Wirthlin, one of the most respected pollsters in the world, passed away Wednesday, March 16, 2011. Dr. Wirthlin, perhaps best known as President Ronald Reagan's chief strategist from his early days in California through the 1980 and 1984 elections was also the only pollster to earn the prestigious "Adman of the Year" award from Advertising Age.

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"Dick Wirthlin, a fine personal friend of many years, touched many lives, and those he touched came away the better for it," said The Honorable Ann McLaughlin Korologos, former United States Secretary of Labor. "His strategic insights brought great success and triumphs in the public policy arena. Dick had no peers in his survey research endeavors, and his gentle, insightful demeanor made him a superb and unique individual."

Dr. Wirthlin received his PhD in economics from the University of California at Berkeley. In 1969 he founded Decision Making Information, a survey research firm based in Los Angeles. "I have been a huge fan of Richard since he first showed me his work in 1968," said Humphrey Taylor, Chairman of The Harris Poll. "He was a creative and original researcher who greatly improved our understanding of how people choose between candidates and products. He was also a warm, kind and generous person – a friend and colleague whom we all loved and respected."

After the 1980 Presidential election, Dr. Wirthlin moved his company to Washington, D.C. where the firm was later renamed Wirthlin Worldwide. In 2004 Harris Interactive acquired the firm and, in that same year, Dr. Wirthlin chronicled his long friendship with President Reagan in his book The Greatest Communicator: What Ronald Reagan Taught Me about Politics, Leadership, and Life.

"Dr. Wirthlin had a unique understanding of effective communications, with a firm belief that people are persuaded by reason, but motivated through emotion," said Carol Gstalder, Senior Vice President at Harris Interactive. "He was the architect of some of the most successful and award winning communication campaigns for candidates, companies, and brands. He built a company based on shared values and was a mentor and friend to many. He will be deeply missed, but his legacy will long be remembered."

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit

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