Poll: 42% back single U.S. air force (8-13-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (August 13, 1941)

The Gallup Poll –

Only 33% are opposed to unification

By George Gallup, Director, American Institute of Public Opinion

Princeton, N.J., Aug. 13 –
The controversy over whether the United States should have a separate air force has come to a head in several bills now before Congress.

Military experts disagree about the advisability of an air force organized independently of the Army or Navy.

The public’s attitude is shown in the results of the following question put to a scientifically selected cross-section of the population:

At present, the air force is a part of both the Army and Navy, and not a separate branch of our armed forces. Do you think the air force should be made a separate branch of the armed forces?

Yes… 42%
No… 33%
No opinion… 25%

If the vote of those without opinions be eliminated, sentiment is 55% in favor, 45% opposed, among those with opinions.

In this controversy, public opinion is not important on technical grounds. But public opinion is important to the extent that a separate air force would probably call for the establishment of a new cabinet department and for added appropriations to support it.

The Institute’s survey on the issue indicates that, to date, the arguments put forward by those who advocate a separate air force apparently have been more convincing than the arguments against a separate air force.

The public attitude toward his issue corresponds closely with the attitude of persons listed in “Who’s Who in America” – catalog of successful leaders in every branch of endeavor. A recent Institute poll among “Who’s Who” showed the following sentiment on the establishment of a separate air force:

Vote of persons in Who’s Who
Yes… 49%
No… 24%
No opinion… 27%

Today’s controversy over a separate air arm calls to mind an earlier controversy over airport on the public’s judgment proved valuable.

Opinion vindicated

The nation’s voters are obviously not military experts, yet as early as November 1935 – nearly six years ago – 84% were in favor of strengthening the airpower of the United States.

By the time the European war broke out in September 1939, 91% of American voters were for a stronger air force.

The public’s early judgment of the value of airpower was thoroughly vindicated when, through command of the air, the Hitler blitzkrieg was able to achieve miracles in the fighting of 1940 and early 1941.