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The University of Texas at Austin


Center Acquires the Fred Steeper Polling Papers

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Fred Steeper, one of the most important pollsters of the past 50 years, has donated a collection of papers to the Briscoe Center.

The collection documents his work conducting statewide polls and focus groups from the 1980s to the 2000s. His clients included California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, and U.S. senators Thad Cochran and Arlen Specter. The papers also include Steeper’s work on a host of issues including stem cell research, concealed handgun licenses, and taxation.

“Fred Steeper’s client list clearly points to the significant role he has played in gauging public perceptions toward conservative issues and campaigns since the 1970s,” said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. “This collection of papers will afford political scholars and their students an almost granular level of inquiry into some of the nation’s most important state elections and issues of the past forty years.”

Fred Steeper’s clients have included presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush. The Briscoe Center’s collection includes some of his work for state governors including Texas’s George W. Bush (1994) and California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger (2001–02.) Video recordings from focus groups that Steeper conducted over many years cover a wide range of issues, demographics, states, and candidates.

Other notable subjects include Steeper’s 1999 Missouri polls related to concealed carry and his 2005 Kansas polls related to stem cell research. Finally, the archive also includes poll information for the reelection campaigns of Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran (1978), Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter (1981–2011), and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (1999–2002).