Chapter

The Myths and Meaning of Public Opinion and World War II

in In Time of War

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780226043586
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226043463 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226043463.003.0003
The Myths and Meaning of Public Opinion and World War II

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From December 31, 1944, until January 4, 1945, the American Institute of Public Opinion (AIPO) conducted a survey asking, “If Hitler offered to make peace now and would give up all land he has conquered, should we try to work out a peace or should we go on fighting until the German army is completely defeated?” Seventy-two percent of the public expressed support for the stated U.S. policy of unconditional surrender; the American people wanted to continue fighting until victory was complete. Aside from the work of a handful of historians, public opinion during World War II has gone largely unexamined. As a result, modern treatments of public opinion and war have almost completely ignored World War II. This chapter discusses the myths and meaning of public opinion in connection with World War II. It first looks at opinion polls in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s and the birth of survey research, before turning to the myths of World War II.

Keywords: World War II; public opinion; United States; opinion polls; survey research

Chapter.  9557 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics

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