Posts Tagged ‘Public opinion polls’

Who are willing to fight for their countries?

February 24, 2017
The darker the red, the greater the willingness to die for one's country

The darker the red, the greater the willingness to fight.

Only 44 percent of adult Americans are willing to tell pollsters they’d fight for their country.

The percentage is even less for some U.S. allies, such as Canada (30%), France (29%), the United Kingdom (27%), Italy (30%), Germany (18%) and Japan (11%).

In contrast, 71 percent of Chinese and 59 percent of Russians say they’d fight for their countries.

This is the result of a public opinion poll of more than 1,000 people in each of 64 countries in late 2014 by WIN / Gallup International.   The complete results are below.

I’m not sure what to make of this.  I think it partly depends on people mean by “fight for country”.

I think almost all Americans would be willing to fight to defend our nation from an invader.  I think only a minority are willing to go to some foreign country to fight to increase U.S. geopolitical power.

The problem for us Americans is that someday U.S. power will begin to slip, and countries that now fear to go against the United States will become our enemies.

When that backlash comes, our nation will need the patriotism that our leaders now exploit and abuse.

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Donald Trump is out of step with public opinion

February 22, 2017

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Rolling Stone had a good article on how Donald Trump’s policies are go against not only the wishes of a majority of the American public, but also many (not all) of the wishes of a majority of Republican voters.

I think this is interesting, but the fact is that leaders of both political parties have gone against the wishes of the American public for a long time without suffering fatal consequences.

The American public didn’t want the government to bail out Wall Street, but it happened just the same.

Many Americans are so disillusioned with American politics that they no longer are indignant about politicians who break their promises.   In the 2016 election, more voters stayed home than voted either Democratic or Republican.

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Poll finds consensus for radical change…

April 5, 2016

quinnipiacSource: Quinnipiac University poll

…except among Hillary Clinton supporters.

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Voters divide on issues mostly along party lines

April 4, 2016

voters-2016-pew

I think the current crisis of American politics is the inability to fit three radically different political movements—for change in our capitalist system (Bernie Sanders), for change in our democratic system (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz) and defenders of the status quo (Hillary Clinton, John Kasich).

Evidently voters see things differently.  Recent Pew Research polls, summarized in the chart above, show that the opinions of American voters on most issues are divided very clearly along party lines.

I was surprised that fewer Sanders supporters said they are angry at the government than are supporters of any of the Republican candidates.

I was not surprised that Trump supporters are more united in opposition to free trade than supporters of any other faction, but I was surprised that Sanders supporters favor free trade in almost the same numbers as Clinton supporters.

The only big difference among the candidates that overlaps party lines is that more Sanders and Trump supporters think that U.S. global involvement makes things worse than Clinton, Cruz or Kasich supporters do.

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An interesting public opinion poll

February 8, 2016

political revolution

A recent public opinion poll found that a majority are willing to consider a “political revolution” to redistribute income from the richest Americans to the middle class.

This includes a majority of Tea Party supporters, of independents and of people who didn’t vote in 2012.

The poll found majorities in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy, raising taxes on corporations, single-payer health care and free college tuition.

But it also found that a majority of Americans think big government is a more serious problem than big business.  Majorities of whites, of blacks and of Hispanics agree on this.

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What we were afraid of in 2015

December 30, 2015

topfears2D6BC74000000578-3273130-image-m-74_1444858317411Source: Chapman Survey of American Fears.

Many Americans open to a U.S. military coup

September 16, 2015

A poll by YouGov, a private polling organization, indicates that, if push came to shove, a sizeable minority of Americans, including a plurality of Republicans, would support a military coup in the United States.

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How times change

November 30, 2014

marriagevia xkcd

I grew up in Williamsport, Md., a little town on the Potomac River, in the 1940s and 1950s, and was taught by my parents, teachers and Sunday school teachers to judge people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

It was not so far south that expressing this opinion would have caused anybody to be run out of town, but I do remember many arguments in which the supposed clincher was, “Be honest, Phil.  Would you want one of them to marry your sister?”

My answer was, “Well, if I had a sister, which I don’t, I wouldn’t want her to suffer all the grief she would have to go through if she married a Negro.  But, if she really loved him, I guess I would still love her and respect her decision, as unwise as it probably would be.”

In truth, I thought the question was a red herring.  I didn’t think interracial marriage would ever be common.  I thought it was just a talking point to justify the denial of equal rights.

In the 1960s, in Hagerstown, Md., in the same county, I attended the marriage of my friend Jim Yeatts, who was white, to Georgianna Bell, who was black.  A detective from the city police department sat in a police cruiser outside the church when the ceremony was performed.

That night the chief of police phoned the newspaper publisher, who was my employer, and informed him that I was among the guests.  The phone call didn’t have any consequences.  I mention it as an example of something that happened then that would be unthinkable now.

What was unthinkable then was same-sex marriage.  If somebody had asked me a question about this back in the 1960s, I wouldn’t have known that they were talking about.

What do Americans think about NSA spying?

June 18, 2013
2013-06-13-NSAquestions31

Source: Huffington Post

Different public opinion polls show widely different results on what Americans think about National Security Administration surveillance.   I think the difference is explained partly on how the questions were worded, and partly on when the questions were asked.

If you asked me whether I think the NSA should spy on suspected terrorists, I would answer, yes, of course, if they have good reason to think somebody might be a terrorist, they should put the person under surveillance.  That is a different thing from having the NSA gather up phone records of all Americans, or on having Homeland Security agencies spy on Americans who are exercising their constitutional right peaceably to assemble or to petition the government for redress of grievances.

My reaction to Edward Snowden’s report on the NSA PRISM program was immediate and negative because of my pre-existing belief that the Obama administration is not acting in good faith.  If I had not been following the question, I would have been much slower to make up my mind.

I’m glad there still are many Americans who value the right of privacy, and who have not been stampeded into giving up this basic right.

Click on Majority Views Phone Tracking as Acceptable Anti-Terror Tactic for Pew Research’s summary of its polling.

Click on Americans Disapprove of Government Surveillance Programs for Gallup’s summary of its polling.

Click on Actually, Americans aren’t shrugging off NSA surveillance for a report from the Christian Science Monitor.

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Nate Silver and the triumph of fact

November 13, 2012

One of the big winners in the 2012 national election is Nate Silver, a statistician-blogger who predicted President Obama’s election victory.  He called every state correctly and predicted the margin of the popular vote correctly, while better-known pundits, especially on the Republican side, were embarrassingly wrong.   He was subject to personal abuse as well as accusations of left-wing bias from readers who forgot that he predicted the Republican comeback in Congress correctly in 2010.

natesilverforecast2012He was lucky as well as right.  Based on the odds that Silver himself quoted, it wouldn’t have been surprising or discrediting if one of the swing states had gone otherwise than as he predicted.  But he certainly deserves his success and acclaim, for basing his conclusions on fact and logic rather than intuition and wishful thinking.

I’m not surprised that Silver got his start as an analyst of baseball statistics.  I think that on the average daily newspaper, sports writers and their readers have a more sophisticated understanding of statistics than political and business writers do.

Click on Nate Silver wiki for his biography, including his background as a baseball statistician and how during one period of his life he supported himself playing on-line poker.   If you read it, you’ll better appreciate the following comments by Bob Lefsetz on The Big Picture web log on the lessons of Nate Silver’s career success.

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What about the top 1/100th of 1 percent?

October 26, 2011

The top 10 percent of the American population gets nearly half of the nation’s income.   That’s very unequal.  What the chart above shows is that income is just as unequal within the top 10 percent, the top 1 percent and even the top 1/10th of 1 percent.  Each rectangle represents a segment of the U.S. population, and each human figure represents 1/10,000th of the population (1/100th of 1 percent).  It shows that

  • The top 10 percent of income earners, whose incomes all exceed $109,062 a year, get 48.2 percent of U.S. income.
  • The top 1 percent of income earners, whose incomes all exceed $368,238 a year, get 20.9 percent of U.S. income (which is about two-fifths of the income of the top 10 percent).
  • The top 1/10th of 1 percent of income earners, whose incomes all exceed $1.69 million a year, get 10.3 percent of U.S. income (which is roughly half of the income of the top 1 percent).
  • The top 1/100th of 1 percent of income earners, whose incomes all exceed $9.14 million a year, get 5 percent of U.S. income (which is roughly half of the income of the top 1/10th of 1 percent.)

Most people aren’t aware of this.  Below is a bar chart on the distribution of wealth in the United States, which is even more unequal that distribution of income.  The top bar is the actual distribution of wealth in the United States, the middle bar is what the average American thinks it is, and the bottom bar is what the average American would like it to be.

The bar chart is based on a poll by Michael A. Norton, a psychologist at Harvard Business School, and Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke University.   Americans’ ideal distribution approximates the actual distribution of wealth in Sweden, where the top 20 percent own 35 percent of the nation’s wealth.

Norton and Ariely showed people three unlabeled pie charts, one showing completely equal distribution of income among the five income groups, one showing the Swedish distribution and one showing the U.S. distribution.  Forty-seven percent preferred the Swedish distribution, 43 percent preferred absolute equality and only 10 percent thought the actual U.S. distribution was best.  There was no difference between Democrats and Republicans on this.

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Democrats’ timidity has not paid off

September 2, 2010

I respect a politician who sticks by principles when they’re unpopular.

I understand a politician who does the popular thing even if it goes against principles.

What I don’t understand or respect are politicians who abandon their principles even when those principles have public support.

Public opinion polls show a majority of Americans would rather have government spending to create jobs than cutbacks in spending to reduce the budget deficit.

They show that a majority of Americans would be happy to allow the upper-bracket tax cuts to expire on schedule.

And they show that a majority of Americans favor tough regulation of the big banks and Wall Street investment firms.

All these are things that President Obama and the other national Democratic leaders say they want. What, then, is the problem?  Why do they hesitate?  Why are they so timid in what they propose?

The Gallup poll in the chart above is just one poll.  Other polls show a more nearly even race, but none of them are encouraging for the Democrats.  But after all, if the Democrats don’t believe in their own platform, why should anybody else?

[Update 9/8/10]  Here’s a new poll with different results.  It shows how volatile public opinion is, or how voters distrust both parties, or maybe what a large margin for error Gallup has.  But my original argument still stands.

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