Design of the Influential Americans Survey Sample

The purpose of the Pew Center survey was primarily to learn what America’s leadership elites believe America’s role in the post Cold War world should be. These leadership respondents, whom we call America’s Influentials or Opinion Leaders, consisted of 591 men and women chosen from recognized lists of top individuals in various fields or by virtue of their leadership positions.

The Business and Finance group consisted of chief executive officers in industry and finance picked at random from these categories of Fortune 1000’s list of leading companies. The Foreign Affairs group was selected at random from the membership list of the Council on Foreign Relations. The Security group was selected at random from the list of American members of the International Institute of Strategic Studies. The Science and Engineering group was picked at random from members of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineers. Governors and mayors were chosen from among the fifty state governors and mayors of cities with populations over 80,000.

Among respondents selected on a non-random basis, Academic leaders were taken from a list of the private universities rated as “most difficult” to enter and those state universities rated as “very difficult” to enter. The Think Tank portion of the Academic sample included the heads of major think tanks listed in The Capitol Source. Religion respondents were selected from the leadership of, among others, all Protestant denominations with memberships over 700,000; each of the 33 Catholic Archdioceses of the country; and the three mainstream Jewish movements. Media respondents were selected from among top individuals in television, newspapers, radio and news magazines. Union Leaders were selected from top officials of the nation’s 50 largest unions. And the Capitol Hill staff were selected from committees handling international affairs and the personal staffs of members serving on such committees.


  • General Public (2000)
  • Media (73)
  • Business and Finance (35)
  • Foreign Affairs (69)
  • Security (57)
  • Governors and Mayors (75)
  • Think Tanks and Academics (93)
  • Religious Leaders (36)
  • Science and Engineering (92)
  • Labor Union (24)
  • Congressional staff (37)

About the Public Survey

Results for the general public survey are based on telephone interviews conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates among a nationwide sample of 2,000 adults, 18 years of age or older, during the period September 4-11, 1997. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.