Something in this WSJ story about Russian meddling in Bulgaria caught my eye – the bits about “exaggerated polling data” and this rather curiously-named polling firm:
“A Bulgarian polling company, Gallup International, which isn’t related to U.S. pollster Gallup Inc., accurately predicted Mr. Radev’s victory. The company, which is being sued by Gallup Inc. for using its name without authorization, also co-published a February poll that said citizens of four NATO members, including Bulgaria, would choose Russia, rather than NATO, to defend them if they were attacked. Those results were at odds with a similar poll by Gallup Inc., published a few days earlier, showing that most NATO members in Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria, see the alliance as protection.
Gallup International didn’t respond to requests for comment.
“This wrapped-in-secrecy poll had no details on methodology nor funding sources,” said Ilian Vassilev, Bulgaria’s former ambassador to Moscow. “Russian media strategists and their Bulgarian proxies used the Western name to fool people about its credibility and spread their message.””
So I decided to take a quick look at Gallup International’s website, here. Without digging into the actual polls they do themselves, not much to comment on here.
Things are a bit more interesting on the affiliations page.
First on their list of affiliations is the WIN/Gallup International, “made up of the 80 largest independent market research and polling firms in their respective countries.” It’s an affiliation I’ve never come across and has several members I’ve either never heard of or are minor players in their respective countries (not including Leger in Canada, who’s well established in Canada and, coincidentally, also part of ESOMAR), which I guess underscores the “independent” part of the description.
But it’s the ESOMAR bit which interests me most. ESOMAR is a large, well-respected international network of market research firms who abide by a code and guidelines on market research. Not everyone’s a member of ESOMAR (in fact, none of the big firms I worked for were members) but it’s a reassuring thing to see on a polling firm’s site if you know nothing about them.
But this is what you get when you do a search for Gallup International in the ESOMAR directory.
I double-checked the list of Bulgarian members to make sure I didn’t miss them. There are eight Bulgarian members of ESOMAR, according to the directory. Gallup International isn’t one of them.