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It seems that opinion polls are an all too common mechanism for studying public perceptions. The US president Lyndon B. Johnson tried governing by public opinion but it does not work.

Johnson created Medicare and Medicaid. In addition, he sought to create better living conditions for low income Americans by spearheading a campaign unofficially called the “War on Poverty”; assisted by a strong economy, the effort helped millions of Americans rise above the poverty line during his administration.

His civil rights legacy was shaped by signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. During his presidency the American political landscape transformed significantly, as white southerners who were Democratic stalwarts gradually moved to the Republican Party and African-Americans began moving towards the Democratic Party. Because of his domestic agenda, Johnson’s presidency marked the peak of modern liberalism in the United States.

Starting in 1965 a sharp rise in crime lead to calls for a crackdown but Johnson preferred to use social policy to reduce social pressures of crime. One of the most controversial presidents in American history, public opinion of his legacy has continuously evolved since his death. Historians and scholars rank Johnson in the upper tier because of his domestic policies; his administration passed many major laws that made serious advancements in civil rights, health care, and welfare.

Johnson lost the primary election in New Hampshire to Nixon. Nixon put a stop to the Vietnam war and the Watergate scandal put an end to his administration.

The lesson to be learned is that populism is not best way to run a nation. Instead he has to deal with issues head on as they emerge. Opinion polls are of more value to the retailers who need to be sure they have the goods the public want. Political opinions are far more volatile.