Fredric W. Slight left the White House staff on September 22, 1975, and very shortly thereafter took up the newly created position of PFC research coordinator. Although he initially worked alone, by the heart of the primary season Slight had a staff of four assistants.
The Research Office, which at various times reported administratively to either the Deputy Chairman for Administration or the Political Office, handled a variety of tasks:
- Summarizing and analyzing public opinion polling data
- Compiling quotes made by President Ford and Jimmy Carter on various issues and events
- Responding to queries on the President's views and accomplishments
- Producing briefing materials for advocates campaigning on behalf of the President
In June 1976, Slight resigned from the PFC staff. For the next two months Answer Desk Coordinator Rob Quartel appears to have provided interim leadership. When campaign pollster Robert Teeter joined the PFC staff on a full- time basis in August 1976, he was named Deputy Chairman and head of the Research Office. During the fall campaign, the staff quickly expanded from four to over 20 individuals, although many of them were volunteers.
On July 19, 1976, Slight rejoined the White House staff as a Deputy Special Assistant to the President in the Office of Communications. In this position, Slight's major responsibility was the drafting of responses to article requests and questionnaires addressed to the President by various organizations and publications. Since the PFC Research Office handled similar requests and often referred them to the White House for a response, he continued to work closely with his former aides.
The major strength of the extant files of the Research Office is the large series of public opinion polling data produced for the campaign by the firm Market Opinion Research (MOR). MOR Vice President Robert Teeter directed most of these studies under contract with the PFC.
Polling data and analysis from key states early in the primary period is especially strong. MOR often conducted a study analysis of voters several months before the primary, ran daily tracking studies as the election approached, and then completed a post- election analysis. As campaign funds became tighter later in the primary season, the number of polls per state dropped. They conducted no polling in several minor or uncontested primaries or even in some key primaries such as Ohio or New Jersey that occurred very late. A comparison of primary campaign MOR contracts with the polling data shows the set to be fairly complete, although no results appear from a survey commissioned for the Michigan primary.
The file also contains the results of several national surveys, three waves of general election polling in PFC priority states, and six statewide daily tracking studies for the last few days of the General Election. In addition to the MOR surveys, the General Subject File contains summaries of Gallup and Harris polls on various issues and candidates covering 1973- 76.
Other materials in the collection will be useful to researchers interested in quotes by Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford on various issues or compilations of administration goals, actions and accomplishments.
The extant files of the Research Office are not complete. Although letters and memoranda written by Fred Slight and others in the office appear in other portions of the PFC records, no copies appear here. In addition, there is little reflecting internal Research Office communication, interactions with other PFC offices, or office administration. Nothing other than the polling data produced by his firm reflects Robert Teeter's role with the Committee.
Related Materials (July 1990):
Researchers should consult the personal papers of Robert Teeter which contain the results of some additional national surveys and general election priority state studies not included here. In addition, the files of Foster Chanock of the White House Operations Office contain materials on polling, including memoranda from Robert Teeter.
The White House files of Fred Slight are currently unprocessed and not available for research.