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79 His wife’s tireless trips around the country performed a similar function. 80 Finally, the White House also received five to eight thousand letters a day. 83 Of course, even by , despite their new status as a scientific measurement, polls were not entirely reliable. Not only did the possibility of massive error remain (as was demonstrated by the Truman-Dewey miscalculation of ), but the pollsters themselves recognized that polling on matters of fact, such as the number of people who had listened to a Roosevelt fireside chat, was far more accurate than results on attitudes, what people actually thought of the broadcast.

4 But Roosevelt also recognized that the Nazis initially had little power to do any real damage outside Germany’s borders. They had, after all, only reached political prominence because the country was in complete chaos, the economy in tatters, and the social fabric in danger of unraveling. As FDR recalled later, “when this man Hitler came into control of the German Government, Germany [was] busted, . . ”5 The vital question, therefore, was whether the Führer would be able to effect a recovery.

Before May , when Roosevelt was relatively confident that France and Britain would emerge victorious, this policy was unproblematic. Thereafter, as the president’s fears and hopes waxed and waned, so did his belief in the efficacy of sending material abroad. The president was particularly pessimistic during the dark days of June and July , as the French sued for peace and Churchill’s new government frantically prepared for a German invasion. For a brief period, he was even reluctant to gamble on Britain’s survival, fearing that if he guessed wrong he would not only “further enrage Hitler” but would also be in effect handing the Germans some of America’s very limited military mate-               rial.

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