Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pucks and Polls

John Fund has an interesting interview in today's WSJ with Scott Rasmussen, whom Fund describes as America's Insurgent Pollster. Before his work in the world of political polling, Rasmussen also made notable contributions in another sphere:

But Mr. Rasmussen has an interesting entrepreneurial story. He grew up in Massachusetts and New Jersey, the son of a sports broadcaster. Absorbed with hockey in high school, he joined his father in working for the New England Whalers. They would often bemoan that they couldn't get the team's games on broadcast stations. In 1978, trapped in a traffic jam on the way to the Jersey shore, they came up with the idea of an all-sports network on cable TV.

Using $9,000 charged to a credit card, they created the Entertainment Sports Programming Network, or ESPN. They soon scored a major investor in Getty Oil and launched in 1979. Within a few years, they had millions of viewers. Mr. Rasmussen was 22 years old.

The family sold its ESPN interest in 1984, and Mr. Rasmussen became interested in polling after taking a class at the University of Connecticut. He conducted his first poll in the late 1980s, but his business didn't take off until he embraced automated polling in the mid-1990s. With the exception of Gallup, he probably asks more Americans more questions today than any other organization.

Being the man behind one of the most famous polls in America today AND creating ESPN with your dad? Not a bad run.