Poll: 68% of Americans back plan to lease, lend materials (1-22-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (January 22, 1941)

The Gallup Poll –
Pool seen as bearing on British aid bill now before Congress
By Dr. George Gallup, Director, American Institute of Public Opinion

Princeton, N.J., Jan. 22 –
President Roosevelt’s proposal to lease or lend war materials to the British, as set forth in his defense message, is endorsed in principle by a majority of voters interviewed throughout the country in an Institute survey of public opinion.

This does not necessarily mean that the public approves the Defense Bill now being hotly debated. A separate study is now being made of public opinion on the bill itself. Today’s survey merely indicates the early reaction of the public to the one specific proposal that the United States lease or lend war implements and supplies to the British instead of insisting on cash payments.

Through a nationwide interviewing staff the Institute put the following question to a cross-section of voters in every state:


If the British are unable to pay cash for war materials bought in this country, should our government lend or lease war materials to the British, to be paid back in the same materials to the British, to be paid back in the same materials and other goods after the war is over?

Yes…. 68%
No…. 26%
No opinion…. 6%

On this lease-lend issue, as on many others connected with national defense, the Institute found no outstanding partisan difference of opinion among the rank and file of voters. Willkie voters throughout the country reached in the survey are in substantial agreement with Roosevelt voters on this subject, as the following table shows:

Republicans Democrats
Yes 62% 74%
No 32% 20%
No opinion 6% 6%

Other Institute studies in recent weeks have found the rank and file of Republicans and Democrats substantially agreed that England should be aided even at the risk of war, and that the country’s future safety depends on a British victory. These surveys also found the Republicans and Democrats are equally willing to make sacrifices and to pay higher taxes in the interest of national defense. The rank and file of both parties, however oppose war.

The chief reason why the majority of voters favor the lease-lend plan is that anything which helps England will serve to “keep the war in Europe” and away from our shores. “England is fighting our battle,” is a typical comment. Other comments made frequently by voters are:

If Russia and Germany can barter, why shouldn’t we?

It is much better to lend England the war materials than to have them owe us money after the war.

It is easier to send war materials than men.

On the other side, the chief arguments advanced are that England would not pay us back for anything we lent her. One typical remark is:

They won’t pay us back that way either; look at the last time.

Others object on the grounds that the lease-lend plan would anger the Nazis to the point where we would be involved in war with Germany, while others declare that we would have no use for the war materials paid back to us by the British after the war is over.