Watch CBS News

Poll: Most Americans still think there was a JFK cover-up

By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto and Fred Backus

As they have for decades, most Americans (61 percent) think others in addition to Lee Harvey Oswald were involved in the assassination of President Kennedy, but that has dropped significantly from 15 years ago. At the same time, 20 percent think Oswald acted on his own, up 10 points from 1998, on the 35th anniversary of President Kennedy's death.

Majorities across all age groups believe others in addition to Oswald were involved in the assassination, but those ages 65 and over are most likely to think Oswald acted alone (26 percent).


While most continue to believe there was an official cover-up to keep the public from learning the truth about the Kennedy assassination, that number has declined over the years. Fifty-six percent now believe there was a cover-up, down from 81 percent in 1993. A quarter of Americans - 27 percent - don't think there was an official cover-up.


Skepticism surrounding the events of the JFK assassination persists, but more than six in 10 don't think another investigation into the death of President Kennedy is necessary.

There have been a number of tragedies in the lives of Kennedy family members, but most Americans don't think the family is cursed. Still, 15 percent do believe there is a curse on the Kennedy family.

The Legacy of JFK

Most Americans regard the assassination of JFK as an important event in U.S. history: 33 percent think it was one of the most important historical events, and another 36 percent describe it as important.

Americans think the presidency of John F. Kennedy will be remembered fondly by history. Thirty-eight percent think he will be remembered as a great president, and another 41 percent think he will be remembered as a good president. Only 15 percent thinks he will be remembered as a fair or poor president.


More Democrats than Republicans and independents think JFK will go down in history as a great president. While 50 percent of Democrats say JFK will be remembered as a great president, this is true of just 29 percent of Republicans and 33 percent of independents.


Jacqueline Kennedy

Although many Americans credit Jackie Kennedy at least somewhat in helping the nation heal after the JFK assassination, half the public doesn't know enough about her role to say. Twenty-four percent say she had a major role helping the country heal, 18 percent say she had a minor role, and 49 percent don't know enough.

Older Americans are more likely to credit her with a role than younger Americans - most of whom don't have an opinion.

Jackie Kennedy is viewed positively by the public. Fifty-one percent view her favorably, compared to just 2 percent that view her unfavorably, but 43 percent are undecided or haven't heard enough to say.

Older Americans are far more likely to view Jackie Kennedy favorably: seven in 10 Americans 65 and older do, while this is true of just a third of those under the age of 35. Sixty-four percent of Americans under 35 don't have an opinion.


This poll was conducted by telephone from October 23-27, 2013 among 1,011 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by Social Science Research Solutions of Media, Pa. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.