“As America marks the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death, his life, family, strengths and weakness have been pored over in recent weeks, but little has been said about how the public viewed the country during the Kennedy years. The Gallup polls of that period illustrate how different a time this was. The mood of America then had few parallels with the modern era.
First, as 1963 began, Americans were pretty upbeat in any number of ways:
- Having survived the Cuban Missile Crisis, they were confident about their country – 82% thought America’s power would increase in 1963! And most (63%) thought it possible that the West could achieve a peaceful relationship with Russia.
- Americans were remarkably internationalist. Gallup1 found 82% of the public thinking it would be better if US worked with other nations. Just 10% said keeping independent was the right course. No fewer than 87% favored the common market. They even liked foreign aid – 58% said they were for it. Can you imagine?
- Americans were optimistic about the economy – 64% said that local business conditions would be good that year. And that attitude prevailed throughout the year. Two thirds (68%) said they were satisfied with their income. Many credited the president. By a margin of 50% to 37%, the public thought Kennedy kept his promise to stimulate economic growth.
- Indeed, JFK was enormously popular in early 1963. In February, he enjoyed a 70% approval. His ratings for handling foreign policy and handling domestic problems were equally high (64%) and most (56%) were satisfied with the way he was handling the situation in Cuba, where he had stumbled badly in 1961. And unlike modern presidents, Kennedy was a cultural phenomenon. In 1963, Gallup estimated that 85 million Americans had seen or heard a Kennedy imitator…”
- See also Where Were You: The Day JFK Died Reported by Tom Brokaw and A Look Back at the Berlin Crisis and How Further Declassifications would Promote Transparency over Conspiracy in JFK Assassination
- The Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board Final Report