Timeline Of Polling History: Events That Shaped the United States, and the World

The Gallup Poll: 65 Years of Polling History

1935   Social Security Social Security Act passes. 89% of Americans favor "old-age pensions for needy persons." Average payment favored: $40 for single person, $60 for a couple.
1936 Royal Wedding Britain's King Edward VIII's announcement he will marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson is favored by 61% of Americans. After the marriage, he abdicates his throne.
1937 Supreme Court Country is split on President Roosevelt's failed attempt to increase the size of the Supreme Court "to make it liberal," with 44% opposed, 41% in favor.
1938 Minimum Wage Minimum Wage law is enacted, with the minimum set at 40 cents an hour; 62% think it should be different for different sections of the country.
1939 Third Term President President Roosevelt considers running for a precedent-shattering third term. 63% of the American public disapproves. But in 1940, he easily wins re-election.
1940 Peacetime Draft Enactment of the first peacetime military draft in U.S. history enjoys overwhelming support, with 89% saying it is "a good thing."
1940 U.S. to Enter WWII Prior to entering World War II, 62% percent of the American public believes that defeating Germany is more important than staying out of the war.
1941 Government Strike As union strike tactics appear on a collision course with government efforts at war readiness, 79% say government workers should not be allowed to go on strike.
1942 Government Control Government controls go into effect; 52% say gas rationing is necessary nationwide, 32% say it is not, 17% don't know.
1943 During WWII Americans willing to help the war effort, as 44% believe the government has gone "not far enough" in asking people to making to sacrifices for the war.
1943 The Holocaust As reports of mass killings of Jews in Europe spread, 48% of the public say they believe the reports are true, 28% say they are "just a rumor."
1944 Women in the Workforce Women take jobs left by men drafted into armed forces. 59% say those with such jobs should be required to give them up "when the serviceman returns."
1945 The Atom Bomb Atomic bombs are dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 65% say the U.S. will not be able to keep the secret of making the atomic bomb to itself.
1945 Surrender Only 12% of the public say they dissapprove of requiring unconditional surrender from our enemy.
1945 Aid to Japan The public supports helping Japan; 66% say they would be willing to put up with food shortages "in order to give food to people who need it in Japan."
1946 The United Nations United Nations holds its first meeting in New York City. 54% want the U.N. strengthened "with power to control armed forces of all nations, including the U.S."
1947 Marshall Plan The Marshall Plan is instituted, pouring massive amounts of aid into Europe. But only 68% of Americans have heard of it, and only half of them approve of the plan.
1948 The Cold War Public divided on who is winning the cold war with 31% saying Russia, 28% saying the U.S. and 30% saying neither.
1948 Male Sexuality Kinsey Report on Sexuality in the Human Male is released. 57% say report is "a good thing", 11% say "a bad thing".
1949 TV Only 6% have televisions in their homes, and only 44% have seen a TV program of any kind, but 62% think TV "will someday take the place of radio in the home".
1950 The Korean War When American troops return to combat as the Korean War breaks out, 66% expect the fighting to end within a year. But China enters the war, and it lasts three more years.
1951 Truman During War 66% disapprove of Gen. Douglas MacArthur's removal from his Korea command by President Truman for publicly challenging Truman's conduct of the war.
1952 Possible Steel Strike President Truman seizes the nation's steel mills to avert a strike. Only 35% approve of his action, which is later overturned by the Supreme Court.
1953 Stalin Dies Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin dies, but Cold War tensions are not lessened. 79% still say Russia is trying to build itself up to be the ruling power of the world.
1954 Polio Vaccination Large-scale vaccination with the Salk polio vaccine begins; about half the nation (53%) expresses confidence it will work.
1955 School Desegregation Supreme Court orders public school segregation ended "with all deliberate speed." 72% in East favor desegregation, 61% in the Midwest, 77% in the West, 20% in the South.
1956 Interstate Highways Congress inaugurates the Interstate Highway system. 76% say "more express highways are needed between the large cities" of the U.S. Most favored way of paying: toll charges (41%).
1957 Sputnik Soviet Union launches Sputnik, the first man-made satellite. Americans estimate it will take 20 years before men in rockets will reach the moon. It happens in twelve years.
1958 Alaska Statehood Alaskans vote to become the first state added to the union in 47 years. 73% of Americans are in favor. Both Alaska and Hawaii achieve statehood in 1959.
1959 Khrushchev Invited 50% of Americans favor inviting Soviet Premier Khrushchev to the U.S. The invitation is issued, and Khrushchev holds summit talks with President Eisenhower.
1960 Televised Debates 39% say they do not have much interest in watching John Kennedy and Richard Nixon engage in the first televised debates between presidential candidates.
1961 The Berlin Wall Reacting to Soviet threats, 71% say the U.S. and its allies should fight their way into Berlin if necessary. Soviets back down from blockade threats but erect the Berlin Wall.
1962 Cuban Missile Crisis President Kennedy's handling of the Cuban missile crisis draws strong support, with 49% of Americans saying it's the best thing he's done since taking office.
1963 Kennedy Assassination A week after President Kennedy's assassination, only 29% think Harvey Oswald acted alone.
1964 Civil Rights A sweeping Civil Rights Law includes bans on discrimination in jobs, voting and public accommodations. 62% favor a gradual approach to enforcement of the law.
1965 Vietnam 25% of the public describes sending troops to Vietnams as a mistake; that number would grow to 61% by 1971.
1965 Vietnam Americans are split on whether the Vietnam conflict is likely to lead to a bigger war: 45% say yes, 44% say no.
1966 Anti-Poverty As President Johnson's anti-poverty program takes effect across the nation, 48% say they approve, 31% disapprove.
1967 Race Riots Racial rioting breaks out in numerous U.S. cities. One in eight Americans expects "serious racial troubles in their community" within six months.
1968 Robert Kennedy Assassination In the last Gallup poll before Senator Robert Kennedy is assassinated, 25% of Democrats said they favor him as their presidential nominee, 32% pick Eugene McCarthy, 29% choose Hubert Humphrey.
1969 Student Protests Students seize campuses to protest the Vietnam War and demand more say in academics. 55% say students should not have a larger role in academics, 33% say they should.
1970 Busing and School Integration Widespread court-ordered busing to achieve school integration draws numerous protests, with 86% opposing busing from one school district to another.
1971 Lower Voting Age 26th Amendment lowers minimum voting age to 18. Lowering to 18 for local and state elections is favored by 60%.
1972 Nixon Visits China President Nixon shocks the world when he visits China, whose Communist government the U.S. had shunned. 68% say the visit will improve world peace.
1973 Legalized Abortion Supreme Court's decision establishes the legality of abortion. 46% favor permitting a woman to end her pregnancy during the first three months, 45% are opposed.
1974 Watergate Facing an impeachment trial for the Watergate scandal, President Nixon resigns. In the last Gallup poll before his resignation, 57% say he should be removed from office.
1975 High Unemployment Unemployment reaches 9%, its highest level since World War II. 43% of Americans think the U.S. is heading toward a depression.
1976 Capital Punishment Supreme Court restores the legality of capital punishment. 66% favor the death penalty for those convicted of murder.
1977 The Panama Canal Panama Canal Treaty is signed, which would end U.S. control of the canal in 1999. 53% disapprove of the treaty, which is ratified by the Senate in 1978.
1978 Middle East Peace Israel and Egypt normalize relations with the Camp David accords. 42% say the accords will not lead to lasting peace between Egypt and Israel, 31% say they will.
1979 Gas Prices As gas shortages cause spiraling prices, 14% say the shortage is real, 77% say it was brought about deliberately by the oil companies.
1980 Olympic Boycott President Carter calls for a boycott of the Olympics in Moscow as a protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. 61% favor the boycott.
1981 Air Traffic Control Strike Air traffic controllers are fired by President Reagan when they refuse to end their strike. 59% approve of Reagan's action.
1982 Equal Rights Equal Rights Amendment dies when it fails to get the approval of 38 states needed for ratification. 56% favor the ERA amendment, 34% oppose it.
1983 AIDS The disease of AIDS sinks into the public's consciousness, with 77% saying they have heard about it. 33% say they expect a cure for it within a year.
1984 Woman For Vice President Democrats nominate Geraldine Ferraro for vice president. 78% say they would vote for a qualified woman for president, up from 66% in 1971 and 31% in 1937.
1985 The Budget As concern grows about the federal budget deficit, 49% say they would support a Balanced Budget amendment.
1986 Challenger Explosion Space shuttle Challenger explodes, killing all seven aboard. 80% say the shuttle program should be continued. 50% of men would like to go on a flight, 26% of women.
1987 Iran-Contra House and Senate committees hold hearings on the Iran-Contra affair. 75% say President Reagan is holding back information.
1988 Personal Finance A strong economy has 63% expecting to be financially better off next year. But only 41% are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. overall.
1989 End of the Cold War Communist regimes throughout Eastern Europe fall; Berlin Wall is smashed. 46% say it marks the beginning of the end for communism, 47% say it does not.
1990 War in Iraq Iraq seizes Kuwait, U.S. responds with a massive military buildup. At end of the year, 47% say liberation of Kuwait is worth going to war, 45% say it is not.
1991 Bush's Approval Rating President Bush's approval rating hits 89%, highest ever for a president, after U.S. wins the Gulf War. It sinks to 50% by December and bottoms out in 1992 at 29%.
1992 3rd Party Candidate Ross Perot makes polling history by leading the presidential race briefly in June as a third-party candidate with 39%. He winds up with 19% of the popular vote.
1993 Waco FBI assault on a Waco, Texas, religious cult goes awry, and more than 75 cult members die. 83% say it was appropriate for FBI to take action against the cult.
1994 GOP Sweep GOP wins control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. 37% say they expect the Republicans to bring real reform to Congress, 56% don't think so.
1995 The O.J. Simpson Case O.J. Simpson is found not guilty of killing his ex-wife. Only 33% agree with the verdict, but 75% say the jury did "the best job they could in the circumstances."
1996 Welfare 68% of registered voters favor a wide-ranging welfare bill that ends federal guarantees of subsidies to poor people with children.
1997 Death of Princess Diana In reaction to the death of Britain's Princess Diana, 27% of Americans say they are as upset as if someone they knew personally had died.
1998 Impeachment A week after President Clinton is accused of having a sexual affair with a White House intern, the public gives him the highest approval rating of his presidency - 67%. Ultimately only 36% favored impeaching Clinton on the eve of the House vote in December.
1999 A Strong Economy The percentage of Americans describing the U.S. economy as "excellent" or "good" reached 74% in June, compared to a low of 10% in 1993.


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