- In Obama’s Shadow 08/13/2009
The ratings for presidents and their vice presidents tend to follow a similar trajectory in public opinion polls. Favorable ratings of Vice President Richard Cheney hugged those of President George W. Bush throughout his administration, with a brief exception after 9/11 when the President’s marks soared above Cheney’s. Early polls suggest greater distance between President Obama and Vice President Biden. In the latest Gallup poll, 66 percent gave President Obama a favorable rating and 48 percent gave Biden one. Both men had similar unfavorable ratings, 33 percent for Obama, and 36 percent for Biden. Americans feel they do not know Biden as well as Obama. Seventeen percent did not have an opinion about him; only 1 percent did not have a view about Obama.
Source: The Gallup Organization, July 2009.
- No Deficit of Public Concern 08/11/2009
Deficits are not usually a top concern for the public. The numbers are so big, they are hard to understand. But there is evidence from recent polls that the deficit is rising in terms of its importance. In a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, for example, 36 percent of those surveyed said the president and Congress should worry more about boosting the economy even though it may mean larger budget deficits now and in the future, but a solid 59 percent said they should worry more about keeping the deficit down, even though it may mean it will take longer for the economy to recover. When asked in the poll what concerned them most about President Obama, the top response, given by 33 percent, was that he had spent too much money. In the poll, the Republican Party led the Democratic Party by 6 points as the party that would do a better job of reducing the deficit; in January 2008, the Democrats led the Republicans by 22 points.
Source: NBC News/Wall Street Journal, July 2009.
- Divided on Healthcare 08/06/2009
In a 1938 Gallup poll, 81 percent of interviewees said that the government should be responsible for providing medical care for people who are unable to pay for it. In 1991, when Gallup repeated the question, a virtually identical 80 percent said this was a government responsibility. Those consistent responses help explain why the healthcare issue is a hardy perennial of American politics. A compassionate nation wants to help the less fortunate. Fox News and Opinion Dynamics recently asked two questions about government’s responsibility that were framed differently from the Gallup questions. One-third of respondents said it was the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans who want a job have a job. A larger proportion, 51 percent, said it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have healthcare. Forty-six percent disagreed.
Source: Fox News/Opinion Dynamics, July 2009.
- Healthcare Coverage 08/03/2009
The Gallup Organization recently looked at 29,000 interviews conducted in June and found that 84 percent of Americans had health insurance and 16 percent did not. These responses are consistent with the findings from other polls. Most Americans who have coverage are highly satisfied with it. In a new Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, 39 percent described the quality of their current health insurance as excellent and another 45 percent as good. Thirteen percent described it as only fair, and 3 percent as poor. Eighty-nine percent of Republicans, 80 percent of independents, and 81 percent of Democrats said their coverage was excellent or good. The high level of satisfaction insured Americans profess is one of the reasons that the public and many members of Congress appear to be getting nervous about Obamacare.
Note: Asked of those with insurance.
Source: Fox News/Opinion Dynamics, July 2009.
- The Black-White Confidence Gap 07/29/2009
Last summer, Gallup asked people about how much confidence they had in their local police to treat blacks and whites equally. Nearly three-quarters, 73 percent, said they had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence. However, the responses from blacks and whites in the survey were sharply different. Eighty-one percent of whites but only 45 percent of blacks had high confidence that their local police treat the races equally. But there are reasons to be optimistic. In a new study of attitudes toward the police in Los Angeles, a city in which black-white tensions have been sharp, the police force is getting its highest ratings since 1991. In the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner/Public Opinion Strategies poll, 81 percent of white self-identified voters and 68 percent of black voters approved of the job being done by the Los Angeles Police Department. Sixty-seven percent of whites and 68 percent of blacks approved of the job L.A. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton is doing.
Source: The Gallup Organization, June 2008.
- Promoting Democracy Abroad 07/24/2009
Americans share President George W. Bush’s view that America would be safer if there were more democracies, but they have always balked at the idea of actively promoting democracy abroad. A July CBS News poll that asks respondents whether the United States has a responsibility “to actively promote democracy around the world” confirms the pattern. Thirty-one percent of respondents think that the United States is responsible for the promoting democracy abroad, but 60 percent of those polled do not think the United States has this responsibility.
A bare majority of Republicans (51 percent) and strong majorities of Democrats (63 percent) and independents (62 percent) agree that democracy promotion is not America’s responsibility. Americans have always been reluctant internationalists, aware of the global role that the United States must play, but at the same time, concerned about the costs that come with such responsibility.
Source: CBS News, July 2009.
- A Non-stimulating Stimulus? 07/22/2009
President Obama has been in office for six months, and many polls ask Americans to evaluate him at this juncture. A July CBS News poll shows that 48 percent of respondents approve of Obama’s handling of the economy, which is lower than the percentage of respondents that approved in April (61 percent) and June (57 percent).
When asked what kind of impact the economic stimulus has had on the economy so far, 21 percent of those polled say it has made the economy better, 15 percent of respondents think that it has made things worse, and 60 percent of respondents say the stimulus has had no impact. Those surveyed are more optimistic about the stimulus’s long-term impact; 42 percent of respondents expect the stimulus to improve the economy in the long run, 21 percent of respondents believe it will make it worse, and 29 percent say that the stimulus will ultimately have no impact.
Source: CBS News, July 2009.
- Quality of Life 07/20/2009
In recent years, black women have made significant advancements in educational attainment and in the labor market, but the same cannot be said for black men. A May CNN/Essence/Opinion Research Corporation poll finds that the public shares that impression, too. Around six in ten whites and blacks believe that the quality of life for black women has improved over the past ten years. Fifty-eight percent of white respondents say that the quality of life is better for black men, but only 36 percent of black respondents believe circumstances have gotten better.
Source: CNN/Essence/Opinion Research Corporation May 2009.
- Lunar Landing 07/17/2009
In a May 1961 speech, President John F. Kennedy announced an ambitious goal for the nation: “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth” before the decade was out. The nation responded, and the United States accomplished that goal 50 years ago this month. In 1959, the Gallup Organization asked Americans whether a man would land on the moon by 1980. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed thought the landing would happen, but 39 percent of respondents were skeptical.
A May Pew Research Center survey reveals that more respondents spontaneously name the space program or landing a man on the moon as the United States’ greatest achievement in the past half-century. Our enthusiasm for space exploration has survived significant setbacks such as the Challenger and Colombia disasters. Our support for a space program, however, is almost always greater than our willingness to pay for it.
Source: The Gallup Organization, 1959.
- Voter ID 07/15/2009
A June Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll asks Americans whether it is a good idea to require voters to show photo identification at their polling places before voting. Eighty-three percent of respondents think it is a good idea because it will help to avoid fraud, while 15 percent of those polled think that a photo identification requirement is a bad idea because it could discriminate against people who do not have a driver’s license or another form of identification. Large majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents agree on the importance of photo identification for voters.
Source: Fox News/Opinion Dynamics, June 2009.