3040.pdf - FEATURES Revisiting Public Opinion in the 1930s...

This preview shows page 1 - 2 out of 6 pages.

Revisiting Public Opinion in the 1930s and 1940s Adam J. Berinsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Eleanor Neff Powell, Yale University Eric Schickler, University of California, Berkeley Ian Brett Yohai, Aptima, Inc ABSTRACT Studies of mass political attitudes and behavior before the 1950s have been lim- ited by a lack of high-quality, individual-level data. Fortunately, data from public opinion polls conducted during the late New Deal andWorldWar II periods are available, although the many difficulties of working with these data have left them largely untouched for over 60 years. We compiled and produced readily usable computer files for over 400 public opinion polls undertaken between 1936 and 1945 by the four major survey organizations active during that period.We also developed a series of weights to ameliorate the problems introduced by the quota-sampling procedures employed at the time. The corrected data files and weights were released in May 2011. In this article, we briefly discuss the data and weighting procedures and then present selected time series determined using questions that were repeated on 10 or more surveys. The time series provide considerable leverage for understanding the dynamics of public opinion in one of the most volatile—and pivotal— eras in American history. T he decade from 1935 to 1945 was like none other in American history. The Great Depression andWorld War II transformed American politics.The New Deal revolutionized the relationship between the federal government and its citizens, even as an emerging conservative coalition limited liberal policy innovations after 1937. In the foreign arena, U.S. involvement in World War II ended a long period of American isolationism and set the stage for the global policies of the Cold War. The relationship of public opin- ion to government policy during these years has considerable importance. Indeed, amid the economic collapse of 2008–10, many political observers have drawn a comparison between the public mood today and popular reactions to the Great Depression in the 1930s. While liberals have wondered why Obama has not mobi- lized a liberal consensus in the mold of Franklin Roosevelt, con- servatives have claimed that the public mood, even in the 1930s, was not all that liberal. 1 However, both sides’ claims have been undermined by the limited and selective use of opinion data from the 1930s. Fortunately, a great deal of data concerning the public’s views during this time exists, which, when analyzed carefully and Adam J. Berinsky is an associate professor of political science at MIT. He is the author of In Time of War: Understanding American Public Opinion from World War II to Iraq (University of Chicago Press, 2009) and SilentVoices: Public Opinion and Polit- ical Participation in America (Princeton University Press, 2004) and has authored and coauthored articles in the fields of political behavior and public opinion. He can be reached at [email protected]
Image of page 1

Subscribe to view the full document.

Image of page 2

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

Get FREE access by uploading your study materials

Upload your study materials now and get free access to over 25 million documents.

Upload now for FREE access Or pay now for instant access
Christopher Reinemann
"Before using Course Hero my grade was at 78%. By the end of the semester my grade was at 90%. I could not have done it without all the class material I found."
— Christopher R., University of Rhode Island '15, Course Hero Intern

Ask a question for free

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern