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Friday, February 5, 2010

Questions and Answers

What’s the latest update on the American public's state of mind and their concerns?

Let’s assume for the moment that the government wants to focus on what Americans think are the most important problems facing the country. The government would thereby: 1) help fix the economy, 2) improve the jobs situation, 3) address healthcare, 4) do something about the federal budget deficit, 5) fix the way government works in general.

These conclusions are based on our February update of Americans’ top-of-mind assessments of the most important problems facing the country. (More on these results at next week.) There were some changes from January to February in Americans' views of the most important problems. Number one was the sharp uptick in the percentage of Americans mentioning something to do with the economy. This included more mentions of the employment/jobs situation, and more mentions of the deficit when compared to January.

The economy has been the number one category of problems mentioned by Americans for years now. February data shows that the economy is now more likely to be mentioned than at any time since last April.

Important to note: Gallup’s most important problem question does not explicitly address perceptions of what the government should be doing. It is possible, if not likely, that some Americans perceive that it is not the government’s role to be addressing some of these problems. But other research that explicitly asks about priorities for the government shows that the economy is still at the top of the list.

Do these priorities appear to be in sync with what the government is doing?

There is little question that the president and Congress are highly focused on the economy and jobs at the moment. The president proposed a new jobs bill. Congress is looking at ways to figure out how to develop and pass such legislation in a very short time. So there is a good match here.

Some interesting new polling shows that, on a relative basis, Americans tilt toward the belief that the president has spent too much time on healthcare and too little on the economy. At the moment, I think the White House is well aware of this aspect of public opinion.

The National Tea Party Convention is being held in at the gargantuan Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville this weekend. Highlighted by keynote speaker Sarah Palin Saturday night. How many Americans are aware of the Tea Party movement?

Several recent polls have attempted to measure Americans’ views of the Tea Party movement. Most find a sizable minority (and in one case a majority) of Americans either haven’t heard of the Tea Party movement or don’t have an opinion. And that of those that do, the opinion tilts slightly more positive than negative.

CNN’s poll (released today but conducted Jan. 22-24) shows that 40% of those interviewed had never heard of the Tea Party movement, or had no opinion. The remaining respondents broke 33% favorable, 26% unfavorable. A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll (Feb. 2-3) shows something roughly similar: 42% don’t know/can’t say, 35% favorable, 22% unfavorable. The Fox poll was among registered voters; the CNN poll among all adults. Subsetting registered voters typically moves the sample at least slightly in the Republican/conservative direction. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (Jan. 23-25) showed 31% don’t know/don't have an opinion of the Tea Party movement, with 28% positive, 20% neutral, 21% negative.

A CBS News poll (Jan. 14-17) follows the traditional CBS (and The New York Times) practice of offering respondents an explicit “haven’t you heard enough about _____ yet to have an opinion” as part of a favorable/unfavorable question. Naturally enough, offered this alternative, many respondents choose it. In this instance, CBS news reported that 69% of Americans opted not to give an opinion of the Tea Party movement; 18% said they had a favorable opinion and 12% a not favorable opinion.

Party breaks are available for a couple of these polls. Results showed that -- not shockingly -- Republicans had a positive view of the Tea Party movement, while Democrats had a negative view. The overall results tilt positive because independents with an opinion break in the favorable direction.


public works environment said...
May 10, 2010 at 8:04 AM  

There is little question that the president and Congress are highly focused on the economy and the public works environment and jobs at the moment.

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