Public opinion and the Panama Canal Treaties of 1977
Public Opinion Quarterly
Smith, Ted .J~Hogan, J.Michael
Copyright (c) 1987
Abstract: In April 1978, after nine months of national debate, the Senate narrowly ratified new Panama Canal treaties. Voting was apparently influenced by numerous opinion polls, which were seen as showing increased support for the treaties. But several analysts have shown that this interpretation was erroneous; public opinion consistently opposed the treaties. This study attempts to determine what went wrong. It begins by arraying and analyzing all national poll results on the topic in order to establish a coherent picture of public opinion. It then identifies a number of polling and reporting practices which may have contributed to the misinterpretation of the findings. The study concludes with recommendations for alleviating these problems.