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Taking the public's pulse on business, politics, and culture, by KARLYN BOWMAN.
Health Stats 12/02/2009 

As healthcare overhaul legislation moves through Congress, a new Gallup poll looks at people’s perceptions of their own care in comparison to their views of the country’s healthcare coverage. We generally trust what people say about their own situation more than the responses they give about the nation as a whole, as the latter perception is largely informed by media reports. Responses on both the national and personal dimensions have remained stable this decade.

Source: The Gallup Organization, November 2009.

Change in Afghanistan 11/30/2009 

As the president prepares to address the nation on his Afghanistan strategy, the Gallup Organization probed American attitudes about troop levels. Around four in ten want to increase the number of U.S. troops, 7 percent want to keep the numbers about the same, and 44 percent want to begin to reduce them. This poll, like others, shows that the president faces the greatest opposition to a troop increase from members of his own party. Seventy-two percent of Republicans want to increase troops compared to only 29 percent of Democrats.

Source: The Gallup Organization, November 2009.

Healthcare Holds Steady 11/25/2009 

At least three polls have been released in recent days from major pollsters tracking the healthcare effort. Although the results differ, they show remarkable stability of attitudes. In the 1993–1994 debate, opinion moved against the bill in the final months. Opinions may change late in the debate this time too, but it is also possible that in today’s more partisan atmosphere, attitudes congealed early and aren’t budging. We show below the relatively minor changes in public support and opposition for the effort, from the ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Source: ABC News/Washington Post, latest from November 2009.

Trying KSM 11/23/2009 

In a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, people were asked about trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a criminal court run by the civilian judicial system or by a military court run by U.S. armed forces. In this national poll, the first since U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced his decision to bring KSM to trial in a civilian court, respondents were told that KSM was in custody in a U.S. military prison. Sixty-four percent favored trial by a military court, and a third favored trial in a criminal court. Fifty-nine percent favored the death penalty and believed KSM should be executed if he is convicted in the 9/11 attacks, 19 percent opposed the death penalty but still thought he should be executed, and another 19 percent favored neither the death penalty nor execution for him. In a new poll from Marist, New York City residents are divided about whether it is a good or bad idea to have the trial in New York City: 45 percent support it, 41 percent oppose.

Source: CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, November 2009.

Palin’s Prospects 11/18/2009 

Most major pollsters ask a basic question about whether people have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of many high-profile people. But CBS News (and its polling partner the New York Times) also gives people an opportunity to say they are undecided or haven’t heard enough about the person to say. When asked about former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in a new poll, 23 percent had a favorable opinion, 38 percent an unfavorable one, but 37 percent said they hadn’t made up their minds yet. Those results were virtually identical to the CBS News results from July. In the new ABC News/Washington Post poll that doesn’t give people the opportunity to say they haven’t decided about her yet, 43 percent expressed a favorable opinion of Palin and 52 percent viewed her unfavorably. Although the balance of opinion in both polls is negative, the large undecided responses in the CBS poll may indicate that Palin has room to move opinions over time. In the poll, however, two-thirds said they would not like to see her run for president. Twenty-four percent said they would.

Source: CBS News, November 2009.

What Recovery? 11/16/2009 

Despite assurances from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and other economists that the recession is likely over, Americans aren’t buying it. In a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, 82 percent said the recession wasn’t over, while only 16 percent said it was. In a question asked by CNN and the Opinion Research Corporation at about the same time, 17 percent said the economy is starting to recover, 50 percent that conditions have stabilized and aren’t getting worse, and a third that the economy is still in a downturn with conditions getting worse.  

Source: CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, October 2009.

Democrats in the News 11/12/2009 

Gallup recently updated the questions the organization asks about people in the news. In the poll, 56 percent had a favorable opinion of President Obama, down from 78 percent in January. Hillary Clinton’s October rating was 62 percent, slightly higher than the president’s rating and one of the best in the 17 years Gallup has asked the question about her. As for John Edwards, Gallup reports that it “has never before found as steep a decline in consecutive measurements for a prominent figure as it has for John Edwards.”

Source: The Gallup Organization, October 2009.


Communism’s End 11/05/2009 

A new poll from the Pew Global Attitudes Project shows that attitudes about the end of communism are broadly positive. There are sharp age differences in many countries, with younger people being more positive than older ones. In Russia, for example, 65 percent of 18- to  29-year-olds approve of the change from a one-party system to a multiparty system, while only 27 percent of those 65 and over do. In east Germany, 90 percent of the youngest age group approve of this change compared to 81 percent of those 65 and over. The graph shows results from Russia and east Germany about the change to democracy and the change to a market system.

Source: Pew Global Attitudes Project, August-September 2009.

The Fall of the Wall 11/05/2009 

People living in east and west Germany are broadly positive about German reunification, according to a new poll from the Pew Global Attitudes Project. Younger people in both east and west are more positive than older ones. In the poll, 63 percent of those 29 and older living in the east say their lives are better off as a result of reunification. Only 16 percent in the poll said they were worse.

*Note: In 1991, people were asked if they approved or disapproved of reunification. In 2009, they were asked whether they had a positive or negative opinion of reunification.

Source: Pew Global Attitudes Project, August–September 2009.

The Press vs. the Military 10/28/2009 

In wartime, relations between the press and the military tend to be strained. In a mid-October survey, the Pew Research Center asked people how much they trust the press and the military to report how the war in Afghanistan is going. The military, the most trusted institution in the country according to recent polling history, is trusted more than the media in this particular case. Thirty-six percent were not confident in the military’s reporting; 59 percent gave that response about the press.  

Source: Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, October 2009.