CBS Exit Poll Pioneer Dies

Warren Mitofsky, New York American Association for Public Opinion Research
Warren Mitofsky, a pioneer in exit polling, a giant in the field of survey research and the former Executive Director of the CBS News Election and Survey Unit, died Friday in New York City of an aortic aneurysm. He was 71.

Mitofsky made seminal innovations in polling methods including the first exit poll used to measure the opinions of voters as they left the polling place that was initially only for CBS News, but the methodology was later adopted by all major news organizations. Also while Executive Producer of election night broadcasts at CBS News he started the CBS News polls in 1969.
One of the most active figures in exit polling up until the time of his passing, he was most recently conducting exit polls for a consortium of U.S. television networks, and internationally as well. He served in leadership positions of the nation's major professional polling organizations, which awarded him their highest lifetime honors.

From 1967 to 1990, Mitofsky was Executive Director of the CBS News Election and Survey Unit, and was an executive producer of its election night broadcasts. He developed and conducted the first exit polls for CBS in 1967, and he also developed the projection and analysis system used successfully by CBS and Voter News Service.

Today, the methods behind the exit polls that give voice to America's voters, and the mathematical models that help estimate election results, are in large part the result of his ingenuity and creativity. As Dan Rather once told the nation, as a heated election night's results poured in, "I believe in God, Country, and Warren Mitofsky."

Mitofsky started the CBS News/New York Times Poll in 1975 as a joint venture between the two news organizations, and directed it for CBS for its first 15 years. Kathleen A. Frankovic, his successor as Director of Surveys at CBS News, said yesterday that he was "distinguished for bringing good scientific methods to media gathering of election and opinion data."

Mitofsky's demand for the highest standards in those methods was legendary. Murray Edelman, Mitofsky's colleague at CBS News from 1967-1992, said "people in the field knew Warren for his creativity, his dedication, and his passion … and they have the scars to prove it."