Poll: 82% of Americans think U.S. eventually will be in war (4-26-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (April 26, 1941)

The Gallup Poll –
By Dr. George Gallup, Director, American Institute of Public Opinion

Princeton, N.J., April 26 –
One of the commonest beliefs in American minds today – as Adolf Hitler mops up after his Balkan blitzkrieg – is that sooner or later the United States will be in the war.

The experts have different guesses as to America’s chances of saying out of a “shooting war,” of course. But to see how events, personal opinion and other influences affect the average American’s thinking, the Institute has put the following question at frequent intervals to men and women in all parts of the country:

Do you think the United States will go into the war in Europe sometime before it’s over, or do you think we will stay of the war?

82% expect entry

Today, the Institute’s most recent study – interviewing for which was completed between April 10 and 20 – shows that 82% of those with opinions now think the United States will go in “sometime before it’s over.”

This is in marked contrast with the 59% who thought America would be drawn in when the Institute asked the same question five months ago, after initial Greek and British successes in the Mediterranean area.

It is also the largest number ever found saying they thought America would “go in” in more than 20 months of continuous surveys.

Shifts with war fortunes

The public has been long apprehensive that the United States might be drawn in, but the number who felt U.S. entrance inevitable has fluctuated over the months.

In general, the number seems to drop after British and Allied successes and rise after German victories.

Not entirely new

Interestingly enough, however, the present trend of America thinking does not date entirely from Hitler’s conquests in the Balkans.

Institute indices show the upward trend beginning early this January, as newspapers, radio, Congressional debate and the public itself thrashed out the Lend-Lease Bill.

By the first week in April, before Hitler’s attack in Greece and Yugoslavia had actually begun, surveys found 80% saying they thought the United States would go in, 20% thinking we would stay out.

Trend shows

The following 20-month trend shows how war expectancy dropped during the “quiet phase” of the conflict in the winter of 1939-40, how it rose after the fall of France, and dropped again after British successes last fall:

Go to war Stay out
October 1939 46% 54%
February 1940 32% 68%
May 1940 62% 38%
June 1940 65% 35%
September 1940 67% 33%
December 1940 59% 41%
January 1941 72% 28%
February 1941 74% 26%
March – April 6, 1941 80% 20%
April 10 – 20 82% 18%
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