This Day in History, In Gallup Polls

Dear CF,

Confused by where we are and how we got here, and especially perplexed by Obama’s savvy-but-disingenuous renarration of the last ten years during his speech, I took a look at Gallup Polls conducted on this day in American history. Below are 2 polls, both conducted on May 2, one right before the onset of World War II, the other just as the Allies were about to win. The survey covers everything from business and war to how to deal with war crimes to the Royal Family–in other words, shockingly similar to news headlines today.

Here’s what people thought then, when the “prison camps” in question weren’t ours [click images to enlarge]:


Gallup Poll #156, 5/2/1939, 34 respondents:

On how war and business interact. 

A majority believe that war in Europe would help business conditions in the U.S. but would hurt the less business-specific “conditions” of the U.S.

How might 1939 America have reacted to the Royal Wedding?

A majority believe that American men and women should shake hands with the Queen of England; none of this bowing and curtsying.

Will we fight Germany again–either in the next ten years or EVER?

A majority believe we’re done fighting Germany for good.

What about taxation? What’s the 1939 Tea Party like?

A majority believe we should reduce taxes on businesses but not the rich.


Gallup Poll #346, 5/2/1945, 78 respondents.

Context: WWII is almost over but not quite–Iwo Jima will be in June.

Torture happened. Should we run footage of it or keep it all nice and secret? 

A majority say yes, it’s important for movie theaters to show the horrible things that happened.

Should we show German POWs footage of what they’ve done?

A huge majority says YES.

Presidents! How much do they benefit when a war is almost over?

A majority believe Roosevelt’s birthday should be made a holiday in their state.

Free Enterprise: What is it, America?

Here’s how the citizens of 1945 fared when asked what “free enterprise” meant. It’s interesting to note what the pollsters deem “Correct” and “Incorrect” in this context. Take a look:

Define “conservative”, 1945ers:

Define “liberal”:

So there you have it.




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