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America in 1961

August 04, 2011

Barack Obama turns fifty today. To mark the occasion, Tech Ticker's Aaron Task chatted with Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, about a new AEI report (10 pages, PDF) that looks (among other things) at Gallup Poll results from fifty years ago to see what Americans cared about when the president was born in 1961.

The report found that the majority of Americans:

  • thought President Kennedy should navigate a political course "halfway" between the right and the left
  • approved of an increase in the Social Security payroll tax to pay for "old-age medical insurance"
  • opposed buying or selling products to Cuba "so long as Castro was in power"
  • were opposed to women wearing shorts in public but were okay with them wearing slacks
  • were against of increasing the price of a stamp to 5 cents

As Bowman tells Task, "[Americans] were worried about prices but they felt pretty good about government as a whole. Interestingly, at that point, we were much more worried about big labor. Big labor was seen as the biggest threat to the country followed by big business and hardly anyone thought big government would be a threat."

She also notes that as the baby boomers age, they are becoming more conservative -- and that's likely to be an important factor in the next two or three election cycles.

Fascinating stuff.

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    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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