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The American Voter in 1932: Evidence from a Confidential Survey

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 July 2018

Helmut Norpoth*
Stony Brook University


In 1932, the American electorate was surveyed in a poll that has languished in the archives. The survey was conducted by Houser Associates, a pioneer in market research. It interviewed face-to-face a representative cross section about voter choices and issue attitudes. Although conducted on behalf of the Hoover campaign, the poll was not biased in his favor. The most striking revelation is that the electoral sway of the Depression was quite limited. The government was not seen by most voters as the major culprit or as having been ineffective in alleviating it. Even many FDR voters agreed. Moreover, there was no widespread “doom and gloom” about the future. What loomed larger in 1932 was the issue of Prohibition. The American people overwhelmingly favored repeal. The Democratic stand on it—that is, outright repeal—was a sure electoral winner, given Hoover’s staunch defense of Prohibition.

Copyright © American Political Science Association 2018 

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