Election 1940: Fortune Poll (11-4-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (November 4, 1940)


New York, Nov. 4 (UP) –

Fortune Magazine announced last night that its 11th-hour pre-election survey shows 55.2% of the nation’s popular vote still in the Roosevelt column, although the President lost popularity slightly in the last three weeks of October.

Fortune said in an announcement of the poll results:

The possibilities indicated by the survey figures range from a substantial majority for Mr. Roosevelt – but not a landslide – to a squeak-through for Mr. Willkie in which, although not obtaining a popular majority, he could win the Electoral College.

President Roosevelt’s majority was declining on the Pacific Coast and in the Mountain States, it was said, while the West North Central Section showed a “continuing trend toward Mr. Willkie.”

Lewis Shifts 6.7%

John L. Lewis’ endorsement of the Republican candidate showed in the poll as having shifted 6.7% of non-farm labor sentiment from Mr. Roosevelt, although 65.9% of labor still supported the President

Three sets of questions were used, one examining sentiment as to the President, another as to Mr. Willkie, and the third asking, “For whom do you expect to vote?”

On Mr. Roosevelt, 29.2% of the replies said there was “no question but that the country needs” him; 22.4% considered him “on the whole” better than Mr. Willkie; 25.4% said “the country would be better off under Mr. Willkie;” 16.5% looked upon possible re-election of the President as “almost a calamity,” and 6.5% answered “don’t know.”

Willkie Gains 1.9 Points

Eliminating the “don’t knows,” Mr. Roosevelt held 55.2% of the votes.

The Fortune announcement did not reveal the comparative breakdown on questions as to Mr. Willkie.

Answers to the “For whom do you expect to vote?” query were:

Roosevelt 44.9%
Willkie 40.4%
Other 2%
No answer 1.9%
Won’t vote 7.6%
Don’t know 5%

Fortune pointed out on the “for whom” question:

Willkie has come up 1.9% since the early October survey and Roosevelt has dropped 0.9% from 45.8%.

Leads in Five Sections

Mr. Willkie is leading in five sections of the country and in these five sections a large number of electoral votes are concentrated. However, it must be remembered that small majorities for either candidate in this or the other section of the country by no stretch of the imagination mean that the candidate will carry all the states in that section.

As the final figures were gathered, Mr. Roosevelt had the edge in total overall popular reference, and his election this seems more probable than his defeat.

Examining poll responses on the basis of occupations, Fortune found that 4.3% of owners of business have turned from President Roosevelt in recent weeks, while “his popularity with owners of farms has increased 3.1%.”

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