One-third (33%) of all adults support the Tea Party Movement, while just under one-quarter (23%) oppose it. ---The Harris Poll, conducted online within the United States between March 1st andth 8, 2010 among 2,320 U.S. adults 18+
Post by David Krane, Vice President of Research, Public Affairs and Policy
After an almost 20 year hiatus from working with the Harris firm, Lou Harris is back. I was lucky to work with him many years ago as a project researcher and I was called upon to help him again over the past few weeks.
Specifically, we asked him to come up with some questions for The Harris Poll and to write up his candid and critical analysis of the new data. Despite some initial hesitation – after all, he is 89 –he realized that it would be enjoyable and he felt he could still contribute. Not surprisingly the questions that he came up with covered his great interest – politics – exploring subject including the Tea Party, President Obama, Republican Party, leadership and the economy. (He also thought of some interesting questions about Tiger Woods but these didn’t make the cut. Perhaps in the future.)
Readers of the Harris Poll column will notice that his “style” is different than what we typically release. He wanted to include more of his interpretation of what the data mean.
We asked about a hypothetical race for president in 2012, first pairing Obama for the Democrats against Romney for the Republicans and then Obama for the Dems and Palin for the Reps. In this situation, Obama beat Romney by 7 points (46% to 39%) and beat Palin by 17 points (52% to 35%).
Lou places this new data hark back to 1992 when Ross Perot managed to get 19% of the popular vote as an Independent, thereby allowing Bill Clinton to win without getting more than 50%. A similar situation may be developing with the Tea Party – splitting the Republican vote – allowing Obama to win again in 2012.
Further, Lou feels that the Tea Party movement (though not in name) was originally in the 2008 election. Voters were very dissatisfied with the Bush administration and wanted change. Obama was able to capitalize on the pro-change, anti-Washington sentiment. However, Lou goes on to say that approximately two in ten voters remain anti-Washington and anti-Obama, as well.
Over three-quarters of Palin supporters as the Tea Party candidate are solidly negative to Obama.
The Tea Party still has a long way to go but is in a position to succeed. They have a potentially charismatic candidate in Palin and may be able to raise lots of money. They could very well prove to be the marginal difference in determining who will occupy the White House and Congress.
Over years, I learned a lot from Lou Harris and I’m glad see that he’s still “got it” when it comes to telling what is going on on the American political scene.
Who do you believe will emerge victorious in 2012? Obama? Romney or Palin? Or someone who hasn’t even come to the forefront of the scene yet?
So Barack Obama has been in office for a little over a year now and according to our Harris Poll his approval rating persists … in the low 40s. No matter how you slice it, it’s tough to find the hope and change in that figure. According to Barack Obama:
“We are the change that we seek.” – but tough to bring about change, when since September 2009, more adults have disapproved than approved of the overall job you are doing and your approval has dropped 14 percentage points since a year ago last March.
“There's not a liberal America and a conservative America - there's the United States of America.” – but tough to have one America, when only 12% of Republicans rate your performance positively.
“Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent. We need to internalize this idea of excellence.” – but tough to actually be excellent, when only 9% perceive you as excellent.
So… Is it Obama or would no politician be able to…. spark dramatic change? Unite our two-party country? Suppress our skepticism?
Nearly one-third of Americans say that if the race for President was being held today and they had the choice of Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate and Sarah Palin as the Republican candidate, that they would vote for Sarah Palin. ---The Harris Poll, conducted online between March 10th and 12th, 2010 among 2,344 U.S. adults 18+
Post by Humphrey Taylor, Chairman of The Harris Poll
Our recent Harris Poll“Wingnuts and President Obama” has triggered more interest and controversy than any other recent Harris Poll. As readers of this blog probably know we found that very large numbers of Americans think that President Obama is a socialist, a Muslim, wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States into a world government, has done many things that are unconstitutional and resents America’s heritage.
This poll also reported that a quarter of Americans still believe that he was not born in the United States and so he is not eligible to be President, and almost a quarter believe that he is a racist and anti-American. Perhaps the most startling were the smaller but still substantial numbers who believe that he is doing many of the things that Hitler did (20%) and that he may be the anti-Christ (14%).
We have been asked several questions about this poll.
Q. What are the implications of this poll for American politics?
A. They are important. Next week we will be publishing a poll on the Tea Party Movement and the attitudes of their supporters. Many of them believe the statements about President Obama. There are other Republicans who think they are dangerous nonsense.
Over this year, and beyond, I think we will see a struggle for the control (some might say the soul) of the Republican Party. If the Tea Party people come out on top, I think it spells real trouble for the party, as they run the risk of alienating moderate Republicans and most Independents.
One other thought strikes me. Bismark famously remarked that people should not be allowed to watch the making of sausages or laws (presumably because the former is too unpleasant and the latter is too complicated ). But we believe in Democracy with “one man one vote” (forgive the sexism here) regardless of whether they are knowledgeable or misinformed. Voters are not always right. Which may explain why Churchill believed that “democracy is the worst form of government --- except for all the others”.
Q. Why did we do this poll?
A. I was recently reading a new book, Wingnuts: How the Lunatics Are Hijacking America written by John Avlon which describes the large number of Americans who hold extreme views of President Obama. As nobody seems to have quantified the numbers of people who hold these opinions, I thought it would make an interesting Harris Poll. To judge by the media coverage and reactions, this is certainly true.
Q. As with most newsworthy and controversial polls, some people don’t seem to like the answers and if you don’t like the message, the easiest thing to do is to shoot the messenger. What criticisms have you heard?
A. Critics of our poll have focused on two issues: our online methodology and the way we asked questions. Enough has been written about our online methodology that there is nothing much to add here. However, I would remind readers that we believe the accuracy of our online polls because they have proved to be, on average, more accurate than telephone polls in the more than fifty elections where there are head-to-head comparisons.
Q. What about the way the survey questions were asked?
A. One criticism of our questions is that we said “here are some things people have said about President Obama.” Our critics suggest that this increases the number of people who believe they are true – because someone has said them. This is possible but there is no evidence that I’m aware of that supports this hypothesis. However, asking people if statements are true or false is a well accepted methodology that has been used in hundreds of polls over many years. And, of course, it is used in educational and other tests.
Q. What about the criticism that, with one possible exception, all of the fifteen statements we asked about are usually made by people who are very critical of the President and can be fairly described as pejorative?
A. This is true. It is possible, if we had included both positive and negative statements, fewer people would have said the negative statements were true. However, most of the criticisms seem to come from people who didn’t want to believe that the answers were accurate. My guess is that people who believe the statements, including many supporters of the Tea Party Movement, are not unhappy to see how many people agree with them. I have also heard from supporters of the President who seem pleased that we have documented the degree of misinformation and hostility that is coming from some Republicans. The most unhappy campers seem to be the moderate Republicans who are concerned about the possibility (and I think it is a possibility) that the Tea Party Movement and people who believe a lot of these statements will take over the Republican Party.
Q. What about the criticism: this poll must have been conducted to help the Democrats?
A. It might help them if Republican leaders are asked whether or not they agree with these statements. But this was not our intention. It should be noted that as a matter of policy we have not worked for politicians in this country since 1963. Some of us worked, before coming here, for them in the past (mostly I think for Republicans). A long time ago we worked for the Conservative Party in Britain, for three prime ministers, including Margaret Thatcher.
I am proud we did this poll. However I do detect a little sour grapes from other pollsters who wish they had done it first! If nothing else, we have stimulated a great deal of interesting discussion and made a valuable contribution to the debate.
So I spent the ENTIRE weekend watching college basketball and cheering madly for Xavier and Ohio State to win both Friday and Sunday nights – because no one loves potatoes more than me (wait no, that’s Idaho), and oh right, because the fantasy basketball team created by me last Wednesday night (way too late for a mom of two) has 3 players from the Buckeye State. Incidentally being the only XX chromosome in an all-male fantasy league, I have heard more than a little trash talk over the past five days… and turns out no one really takes you seriously when your screen name is Little Spirit.
But all that out of my system, I must say that I feel a kinship with America for the first time in a long time… Typically in our Harris Polls about sports and celebrities, only the strong survive. But not this year… this year, it looks like loyalty bleeds blue (both light and dark) because:
North Carolina is tied for #1 on our favorites list (along with Duke), despite missing the tournament 3 times this decade, including this year after being last year’s defending champion;
Connecticut moves up significantly on our favorites list (from unranked in 2008 to #9 in 2009 to #3 in 2010), even though they too missed the tournament this year;
UCLA clings to a #8 spot in our rankings, even though they were invited neither to the Big Dance nor the also-ran NIT this year; and
Syracuse and Kansas don’t even make our list, regardless of their stellar seasons and their #1 seeds in the NCAA tournament.
On the women’s side, both Connecticut and Tennessee remain this year’s #1 and #2 pre-eminent favorites. No surprise there since both teams define success, and Connecticut has made history once again with a string of 73 consecutive victories and another potential undefeated season. But only 39% of college basketball fans feel that Connecticut will be crowned the champion this year – huh?
The only other interesting notes from an otherwise unsurprising women’s favorites list are: Nebraska and Michigan State, who both make the list for the first time this year… and Nebraska without an equally popular or victorious men’s team to help generate attention.
Do you have a favorite college basketball team? If so, do you feel America got it right? And, should we stick with our favorites no matter their record on the court? I vote an unambiguous yes…
Post by Kathy Steinberg, Research Manager, Public Relations Research
If you’re one of the 13% of U.S. adults who planned to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by drinking a pint of Irish beer or taking a shot of whiskey, you may be feeling the ramifications this morning… in which case, my condolences are with you. Thankfully, the plurality of adults (50%) planned to commemorate the holiday simply by wearing green, according to a survey commissioned by CafePress.com, a website specializing in custom T-shirts and gifts.
The CafePress.com survey found that the majority of U.S. adults (64%) planned to observe St. Patrick’s Day somehow this year, with adults of Irish descent being significantly more likely to do so (80% Irish vs. 56% not Irish). Among adults who planned to celebrate, Irish and non-Irish adults were equally likely to say they would celebrate by:
Wearing something green (78% Irish and 76% non-Irish);
Eating corned beef and cabbage (38% and 32%, respectively);
Going out to a bar or pub (19% and 17%, respectively);
Attending a St. Patrick’s Day parade (8% and 5%, respectively);
Carrying a lucky charm (7% and 4%, respectively); and,
Playing hooky from work or school (3% and 1%, respectively).
However, Irish adults were more likely than non-Irish adults to plan to celebrate by:
Drinking a pint of Irish beer (19% Irish vs. 12% non-Irish);
Taking a shot of whiskey (13% vs. 8%, respectively); and,
Kissing someone Irish (16% vs. 7%, respectively).
So, I guess you don’t have to be Irish to wear green, but it may help if you’re trying to catch the eye of that lass at the other end of the bar.
What about you? Did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? How? And perhaps more importantly, why?
Regardless of their heritage, nearly two in three American adults (64%) plan to celebrate St. Patrick's Day this year. Not surprisingly, those of Irish ancestry are significantly more likely to observe the occasion (80% of adults who are Irish or part Irish vs. 56% of those who are not Irish).--- commissioned by CafePress.com and conducted online between March 2nd and 4th, 2010 among 2,073 U.S. adults 18+, of whom, 708 are Irish and 1,224 are not Irish
With health care non-reform front and cent(rist) as it is, it seems like we could all stand to modify our habits along with our public policies.
Let’s start with the glass is half-empty (of cigarette smoke)… Americans have seen the truth and embraced it. We appear less likely to smoke cigarettes now than any other year since Harris Interactive began measuring our healthy behaviors, according to a recent Harris Poll. Today, only 17% of Americans say they smoke cigarettes – the same as in 2008 – but less than any other year on Harris’ record since 1983. Now, to be accurate, all the publicity about the harmful impact of nicotine has either been overlooked or disregarded by adults who chew tobacco and smoke cigars who still use in the same proportion as they did 5 years ago… perhaps a promotional hole in our anti-smoking campaign? And still 17% of Americans (nearly 1 in 5) admit to smoking cigarettes…
So let’s move on to the glass is half full (of sugary soda), it turns out that as a country, we are becoming more and more overweight (not to mention obese).
In 1983, only (?) 58% of Americans ages 25+ were overweight with 15% who were obese. Today, 78% are overweight and 34% are obese. In other words, obesity has more than doubled (!) in the past 25 years.
In fact, almost every year, the figures for obesity have either plateaued or increased. There have only been *3* years out of the past 25 in which the figures have fallen by more than one percentage point. So, bring it on, Jamie Oliver...We need you!
How have your health habits changed in the past decade? Are you (am I) one to talk?