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Taking the public's pulse on business, politics, and culture, by KARLYN BOWMAN.
Women’s Education 10/05/2009 

In 1963, President Kennedy issued a major report on the status of women. This week his niece Maria Shriver  updates it with a media extravaganza on NBC and affiliated cable networks. “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything,” conducted in conjunction with the Center for American Progress, will look at how women fare today. We are examining some key indicators, too.  

Young women have made extraordinary strides in education. Today their goals are ambitious, and they are clearly preparing themselves for them. According to a survey conducted by UCLA, more young women entering college today expect to get master's degrees and, separately, an advanced professional one, than plan to get a bachelor’s. Fifty-eight percent in another question in the survey say “becoming an authority in their field” would be essential or very important for them.

Source: Cooperative Institutional Research Institute, Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA.

Congress Out of Touch 10/01/2009 

Congress’s approval rating has been declining recently, and some pollsters report the lowest scores on record. One possible explanation comes from a recent Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll. Only 6 percent of those surveyed said that Congress pays a great deal of attention to what regular Americans think when it decides what to do. Thirty percent said Congress paid some attention, 39 percent said not much, and 23 percent said none at all. Although Democrats control both houses of Congress, 49 percent of those who identify as Democrats said Congress pays not much or no attention at all to what regular Americans think.

Source: Fox News/Opinion Dynamics, September 2009.

Government Waste 09/29/2009 

Gallup recently asked Americans how much of every dollar that goes to the federal government in Washington is wasted, and the mean response was 50 cents. That’s the highest response recorded on the question since Gallup first asked it in 1979. Republicans and independents were likely to see more waste (at 54 and 55 cents, respectively) than Democrats (41 cents). People in the survey felt there was less waste in their state and local government than in Washington.

Source: The Gallup Organization, August-September 2009.

Increasing the Deficit 09/24/2009 

While some have made claims of deficit neutrality during the healthcare debate, the public isn’t buying it. In the September ABC News/Washington Post poll, 65 percent said that healthcare reform would increase the federal budget deficit, 24 percent said reform would have no effect on it, and only 9 percent said reform would decrease the deficit. In a mid-September CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, 74 percent said if the president’s plan becomes law, it would increase the deficit, while 24 percent said this would not happen.

Source: ABC News/Washington Post, September 2009. 

Too Liberal? 09/23/2009 

ABC News and the Washington Post asked people whether President Obama’s views on most issues are too liberal, too conservative, or just about right. In early September, 39 percent said his views were too liberal, 53 percent about right, and 5 percent too conservative. The 39 percent saying he is “too liberal” is up from 29 percent who gave that response in January.

Source: ABC News/Washington Post, September 2009.

Healthcare Skepticism High 09/21/2009 

Fox News and Opinion Dynamics asked people about two promises President Obama made in his address to Congress on healthcare, and Americans were skeptical of both. Only 28 percent said it was possible that the president’s healthcare plan would not add one dime to the deficit, but 67 percent said that was impossible. Democrats were divided 47 percent to 46 percent about whether this was possible or not. Majorities of Republicans and independents said it wasn’t. In another question, people were told that “President Obama says under his healthcare plan if you have health coverage you like that you won’t have to make a change if you don’t want to.” Sixty percent said they would probably have to make some changes, but 36 percent believed the president. Fifty-four percent of Democrats believed the president, but only 18 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of independents did.

Source: Fox News/Opinion Dynamics, September 2009.

Who's Minding the Store? 09/16/2009 

Despite their major roles in responding to the financial crisis, most Americans have little idea who Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke are. In an August poll conducted by Harris Interactive, 57 percent said they were not familiar enough with Geithner to have an opinion of him, and 56 percent gave the same response for Bernanke.

Source: Online survey by Harris Interactive,  August 2009.

Confidence in Banks 09/14/2009 

Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy a year ago, and the next day the Dow fell 500 points. The Gallup Organization has been asking about confidence in banks since 1978, when 55 percent of those polled had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in them.  This year, just 22 percent had high confidence. Forty-nine percent expressed some confidence in banks, and 29 percent said they had hardly any or no confidence in banks.

Source: The Gallup Organization, June 2009

Healthcare Overhaul 09/09/2009 

As President Obama prepares to address a joint session of Congress on healthcare reform, most polls display rising disapproval of how he has treated the issue. A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows that 52 percent of Americans would feel more secure keeping the current healthcare system and 44 percent would feel more secure with the president’s proposed system. In another question in the poll, 53 percent of respondents said the president wants “the federal government to eventually take over all aspects of the healthcare system in this country,” but 42 percent said he does not.

Source: CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, August 2009.

Laboring on Labor Day 09/01/2009 

A roundup of new polls shows that most workers are highly satisfied with their jobs. Fifty percent told Gallup in early August that they were completely satisfied with their jobs, and another 37 percent said they were somewhat satisfied. Only 13 percent were dissatisfied. This is welcome news because Americans are growing more anxious about the job situation in general. Twenty-seven percent are worried their hours will be cut back, up from 14 percent last year. Thirty-two percent are worried their wages will be reduced, up from 16 percent last year.

Source: The Gallup Organization, August 2009.