- Sotomayor Soundings 06/17/2009
Confirmation hearings on Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court are expected to begin on July 13. Initial reactions to her nomination have been positive. Fifty-four percent told Gallup they would like the Senate to vote in favor of her confirmation. That response is similar to early reactions to Samuel Alito (50 percent) and John Roberts (59 percent). Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed by Fox News and Opinion Dynamics in early June said they did not agree with Sotomayor's comment that “a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” while 32 percent agreed with it. Should those remarks disqualify her? A large majority, 67 percent said they should not.
Source: Fox News/Opinion Dynamics, June 2009.
- Not-so-United Nations 06/15/2009
When announcing his nomination of Susan Rice as U.S.ambassador to the United Nations, President Obama described the organization as an “indispensable—and imperfect—forum.”
According to a recent Gallup poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans say the United Nations has been “doing a poor job trying to solve the problems it has had to face.” Only 26 percent say the organization is doing a good job—the lowest rating since Gallup first began asking the question more than 50 years ago. But 64 percent of Americans still favor a “leading” or “major” role for the organization in world affairs, compared to 30 percent who favor a “minor” role. Majorities of Republicans (58 percent), Democrats (73 percent), and independents (62 percent) all favor a “leading” or “major” role for the organization.
Source: The Gallup Organization, February 2009.
- Fed Fallout 06/12/2009
A U.S. Federal Reserve survey released this week suggested that while “economic conditions remained weak or deteriorated further” between mid-April and May, the pace of decline may be moderating in some parts of the country.
How do Americans feel about the job the Federal Reserve is doing? Only 59 percent of Americans surveyed in an online Harris Interactive poll in March were familiar enough with the Federal Reserve to have an opinion about it. Of these, only one-third thought it was doing an “excellent” or “pretty good” job. Forty-two percent said they were familiar enough with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to have an opinion about him, and 34 percent rated his job performance as “excellent” or “pretty good.” Even fewer (35 percent) were familiar with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and 33 percent said he was doing an “excellent” or “pretty good” job.
According to Harris Interactive’s May poll, Americans’ familiarity with Bernanke remains the same (43 percent), but the percentage assessing his job performance positively has fallen to 19 percent. Familiarity with Geithner has increased (41 percent) but only 16 percent say he is doing an “excellent” or “pretty good” job.
Source: Harris Interactive online, May 2009.
- Party Loyalty Begins At Home 06/10/2009
On Tuesday, the Republicans' House and Senate campaign committees hosted their annual fundraising dinner in Washington, D.C., featuring a keynote by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and an appearance by the party’s 2008 vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin. Recent polls suggest that Republicans view their party significantly less favorably than Democrats view theirs, as discussed in AEI’s latest political report. In a Gallup/USA Today poll released yesterday, 33 percent of Republicans said they had an unfavorable opinion of the Republican party, compared to only 4 percent of Democrats who said that about their party. These findings are broadly similar to a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll conducted earlier this spring, in which 91 percent of Democrats had a favorable view of their party compared to only 76 percent of Republicans who had a favorable view of theirs. Nationally, 54 percent of Americans had a favorable view of the Democratic Party, compared to 41 percent who had a favorable view of the Republican Party.
Source: Fox News/Opinion Dynamics, March-April 2009.
- Attitudes on Abortion 06/08/2009
The shooting of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller and speculation over Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s position on abortion has returned the topic to the forefront of public debate. According to a Gallup poll conducted in May, 51 percent of Americans describe themselves as “pro-life”—the first time a majority has said so since Gallup began asking the question in 1995. When asked about the legality of abortion, 23 percent said that it should be illegal in all circumstances, nearly identical to the 22 percent who said it should be legal under any circumstances. In 1975, when Gallup first asked this question, the results were virtually identical. Twenty-two percent said it should be illegal under any circumstances, and 21 percent legal under any circumstances. The stability of attitudes on the legality of abortion over time is extraordinary.
According to two Pew Research Center polls conducted in October 2008 and April 2009, the percentage of Americans who think that abortion should be either legal in all cases (18 percent) or illegal in all cases (16 percent) is unchanged.
Source: The Gallup Organization, May 2009.
- An American in Cairo 06/05/2009
Addressing Cairo University in Egypt yesterday, President Obama urged the United States and Muslims around the world to work together to end the “cycle of suspicion and discord” that has characterized centuries of relations between Islam and the West. According to a Gallup poll conducted in February and March, approval of the “job performance” of U.S. leadership is already up in many Arab countries, although it still remains low. Nine countries—Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Mauritania, Syria, and Yemen—all recorded increases in the percentages of people saying they approved of the job performance of U.S. leadership. Of the 11 countries surveyed, the percentage indicating approval ranged from a high of 56 percent in Mauritania to a low of 7 percent in the Palestinian Territories. But for many countries, the verdict appears like it may still be out: in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, and Yemen, the percentage of respondents answering “don't know/refused” more than doubled. Interviews were conducted “face-to-face,” which may have also contributed to the number of respondents indicating “don’t know/refused.”
Source: The Gallup Organization, February-March 2009.
- Court Report 06/03/2009
Initial reactions to President Obama’s decision to nominate Sonia Sotomayor to fill the Supreme Court seat being vacated by David Souter have been positive. According to a new Quinnipiac poll, 54 percent of Americans approve of the president’s nomination of her, compared to 24 percent who disapprove and 22 percent who do not have an opinion yet. In this poll and in others during past nominations, Americans say legal qualifications are more important than racial, ethnic, religious, or gender diversity. Americans generally want a judge who is a moderate, or one who hews slightly to the right. In the latest Quinnipiac poll, 30 percent say Sotomayor is more liberal than they would like, 5 percent that she is not liberal enough, and 42 percent that she is “about right.”
Source: Quinnipiac University, May 2009.
- A War Wears On 05/29/2009
In a recent interview, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that support for the war in Afghanistan would wane unless the Obama administration took strong action to counter the Taliban. “People are willing to stay in the fight, I believe, if they think we are making headway,” he said. What do Americans have to say about the war’s progress? A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows that only 36 percent believe that things are going “very” or “moderately” well for the United States in Afghanistan, while 61 percent say they are going “moderately” or “very” badly. A majority (52 percent) say things are going well for the United States in Iraq.
Still, when asked whether they favor or oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan, Americans are split, 50 percent in favor and 48 opposed. When asked the same question about Iraq, only 34 percent favor the war, compared to 65 percent who oppose it.
Source: CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, May 2009.
- School’s Out for Summer? 05/28/2009
Congress is currently considering legislation (S.804 School Day Factor Act of 2009) that would encourage states to extend the length of their school day as well as to expand the minimum number of days in their school year to 200 by 2014. In 2008, the number of school days ranged from 173 to 182 across states, with 42 states mandating 180 or fewer days per year. “A longer day could make sense for many students and offer a respite for stretched families,” writes AEI scholar Frederick Hess, but only when “schools know how to use the hours, where talented teachers have the ideas and energy, and where families think the student would benefit.”
According to a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, 57 percent of Americans favor increasing the number of school days per year, but only 44 percent favor increasing the number of hours students spend there each day. Americans are evenly divided about merit pay for teachers. Fifty percent say teachers whose students perform well on tests should get paid more than teachers whose students perform poorly, but almost as many (48 percent) disagree.
Source: CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, March 2009.
- America’s Image Abroad 05/27/2009
According to a CBS News/New York Times poll conducted in late April, 59 percent of Americans think their country’s image in the world has gotten better since Barack Obama has been president. Eleven percent say it has gotten worse, and 25 percent say the Obama presidency has had no effect. The positive assessment appears to be driven largely by the views of Democrats: 80 percent of them, compared to 53 percent of independents and only 34 percent of Republicans, say our image has improved. In an ABC News/Washington Post poll, Democrats were more positive than either independents or Republicans about the U.S. image: 59 percent of them said that “under Obama” America’s image in the rest of the world had gotten better, compared to only 44 percent of independents and 19 percent of Republicans who said that.
Source: CBS News/New York Times, April 2009.