Monday, December 19, 2016

Lou Harris

I never know whether this kind of thing should be shared on a blog. My uncle Lou Harris has just died. He was the last of his generation in my family and a truly interesting guy. I don't mean Minnesota interesting, I mean interesting interesting. He was John Kennedy's pollster in the 1960 election. I think that was the first election in which a politician used polls seriously. It was certainly an early example. And if he'd been in his prime and doing Clinton's polls, she would have campaigned in Wisconsin.

Patrick just said Lou would not have enjoyed seeing Trump in office. Though he would have -- in his prime -- had a damn interesting analysis of why it happened.

He was almost 96 and in failing heath, so this did not come as a shock. I remember him as a much younger man, holding forth in his living room or arguing politics with my uncle Fritz.

A friend of mine comments there was a time when everyone would have known who Lou Harris was. Yes. For a long while he was THE political pollster. You live long enough and you realize most people fade. It's disturbing, but it happens. My father's art history book continues, but only because Pearson keeps it in print, and less and less of it is his. New co-authors have taken over. I grew up in the shadow of these larger than life people, and they shrank and shrank and were gone.


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