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A list of some prominent pollsters - and some distinctions among them

Some 200 to 300 companies are involved in opinion research in the United States today. Most concentrate on the huge market for product-related surveys - ranging from consumer preferences on packaging and taste to the public's attitude toward whole industries.

The best-known polls, however, are those that publish findings about issues and politics. These are known as ''public'' polls. Some organizations, such as Roper, Gallup, and Harris, do a substantial amount of market research as well. But their reputations rest largely on their political work. The ''public'' polls include those run by major news organizations.

''Private'' pollsters work for a particular candidate or political party. They are increasingly prominent figures in American politics. Most are closely identified with one of the major parties, and some have close ties to a single candidate.

Major ''public'' polling organizations

Bureau of Social Science Research Inc. (Washington)

Louis Harris & Associates (New York)

National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago

Opinion Research Corporation (Princeton, N.J.)

Penn + Schoen Associates (New York)

Survey Research Center, University of Michigan

The Gallup Poll (Princeton, N.J.)

The Roper Organization (New York)

Yankelovich, Skelly & White (New York)

ABC/Washington Post Poll

CBS/New York Times Poll

Los Angeles Times Poll

NBC Poll

Some prominent ''private'' pollsters

Democratic:

Peter Hart (Walter Mondale's pollster - based in Washington)

Dottie Lynch (Gary Hart's pollster - Washington)

William R. Hamilton (John Glenn's pollster - Washington)

Patrick Caddell (Washington)

Republican:

Richard Wirthlin of Decision Making Information (Presi dent Reagan's pollster - Washington, Los Angeles)

Robert Teeter of Market Opinion Research (Ann Arbor, Mich.)

Lance Tarrance (Houston)

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