DECEMBER 19, 1959
NEW YORK—I was away on December 10 so I failed to see in The New York Times the account of a poll taken among 54 prominent Americans by Esquire Magazine. It does not seem to me that this small number is very significant, but both the magazine and one of our principal metropolitan newspapers seem to consider it significant and I have had letters about these ever-present questions which were posed:
"Who should be President in 1960? What should the issues be?"
The magazine says the poll showed that foreign affairs should be the principal election issue and, as you would expect, therefore, Adlai E. Stevenson emerged with 16 votes. Vice-President Richard Nixon received only 7½.
This, of course, could be brought about if most of the people interviewed in that small poll were Democrats. But the magazine said leaders in publishing, letters, industry, religion, education, science and the arts were canvassed.
The other choices were Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, 6; Senator John F. Kennedy, 5; Governor Rockefeller, 4½; Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, 1; Senator Styles Bridges, 1; and Senator Barry Goldwater, 1. The last three must have been chosen by the conservatives of both parties, and the report says that the half-votes occurred when one of these polled said he would prefer Mr. Nixon or Mr. Rockefeller.
The account went on to say that those who backed Stevenson were primarily concerned with a peaceable settlement with Russia and with taking up quickly the growing economic and social troubles in our own country and the world.
I quote what they say about Nixon supporters: "The word `maintain' keeps cropping up, `maintain' strength against Russia, `maintain' the line against inflation."
These 54 prominent Americans who were polled may or may not be representative of what the American public is thinking, but from now on we are going to have an increasing number of these polls taken and we ordinary Americans are going to have some influence on the nominations in our parties for convention delegates.
All the polls in the world will make little difference unless the people generally are active enough in their political parties to choose and get appointed delegates to the convention who are free to think and act for themselves and are not pledged to the will of any political boss.
On Wednesday evening I went to see "Saratoga," a musical based on the novel, "Saratoga Trunk" by Edna Ferber. It was a pleasant evening. The play is very well directed, with delightful settings and wonderful costumes. There are moments when in the songs you feel a little reminiscent twinge of something you have heard before, but the acting is good. Howard Keel and Carol Lawrence are delightful and I recommend this play for a light and pleasant evening.