Politics » Polls http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics The latest Politics news and blog posts from ABC News contributors and bloggers including Jake Tapper, George Stephanopoulos and more. Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:04:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Broad Public Approval for Feds on Boston Bombing Investigation http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/04/broad-public-approval-for-feds-on-boston-bombing-investigation/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/04/broad-public-approval-for-feds-on-boston-bombing-investigation/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 04:01:28 +0000 Gary Langer http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=879783 Two-thirds of Americans approve of the federal government’s handling of its investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing and nearly six in 10 hold a favorable view more generally of the government’s efforts to try to prevent terrorist attacks in the United States.

Those results in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll mark unusual majority-positive ratings for government actions – difficult scores to achieve in recent years, given anti-Washington sentiment generated, in large part, by the nation’s slow crawl to better economic health.

See PDF with full results and charts here.

Notably, views on the federal response to the marathon bombing, a year ago today, cross partisan lines. Approval peaks at 74 percent of Democrats, but also includes 62 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of political independents. Similarly, 63 percent of conservatives and 68 percent of liberals approve, relatively rare agreement across ideological groups.

Thirty percent of Americans, moreover, “strongly” approve of the government’s handling of the marathon bombing investigation, almost twice as many as strongly disapprove in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.

Views are somewhat less positive – and political divisions are sharper – in terms of the things the government is doing more generally to try to prevent terrorism in this country. Controversy surrounds some such efforts, including surveillance activities by the National Security Agency, the long-running U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and drone strikes on suspected terrorists.

Overall, 58 percent express a favorable opinion of federal anti-terrorism activities, ranging from 72 percent of Democrats to a sharply lower 49 percent of Republicans – a 23-point gap, compared with a partisan gap half that wide, 12 percentage points, in views of the Boston bombing investigation.

Similarly, 60 percent of liberals have a favorable view of the things the government is doing to try to prevent attacks, vs. 49 percent of conservatives – an 11-point gap, compared with a non-significant 5 points in their views of the handling of the marathon bombing investigation.

Notable, too, is that fact that positive views in both cases peak among moderates – 72 percent in this group have a favorable view of federal anti-terrorism efforts in general, and 74 percent approve of the government’s investigation of the attack in Boston.

These ratings are far less overtly partisan than views of Barack Obama’s handling of the threat of terrorism, as opposed to the federal government’s. In an ABC/Post poll in January, 50 percent of Americans approved of Obama’s handling of terrorism, with a vast 52-point partisan gap.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone April 9-13, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,015 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y.

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Growing Doubts About Big Data http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/04/growing-doubts-about-big-data/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/04/growing-doubts-about-big-data/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 15:32:44 +0000 Gary Langer http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=879144 There’s quite a kerfuffle going on in the world of big data, with a range of prominent articles in the past month suggesting it’s not the analytical holy grail it’s been made out to be. Taken together, these pieces suggest the start of a serious rethink of what big data can and can’t actually do.

Perhaps most prominent is a piece in the journal Science on March 14. It builds from an article in Nature last year reporting that Google Flu Trends (GFT), after a promising start, flopped in 2013, drastically overestimating peak flu levels. Science now reports that GFT overestimated flu prevalence in 100 of 108 weeks from August 2011 on, in some cases with estimates that were double the CDC’s prevalence data.

As well as picking apart GFT’s problems (inconsistent data source, possibly inconsistent measurement terms) the authors blame “big data hubris,” which they define as “the often implicit assumption that big data are a substitute for, rather than a supplement to, traditional data collection and analysis.” Fundamentally, they add: “The core challenge is that most big data that have received popular attention are not the output of instruments designed to produce valid and reliable data amenable for scientific analysis.”

While “enormous scientific possibilities” remain, the authors say, “quantity of data does not mean that one can ignore foundational issues of measurement.” They also point (as we have in the past) to the vulnerability of some big data sources (including Twitter and Facebook) to intentional manipulation.

A prominent research statistician and author, Kaiser Fung, followed with a pretty sharply worded blog post, not only calling the GFT flu estimates an “epic fail” but saying it’s emblematic of a broader problem in the big data world: “Data validity is being consistently overstated.”

As to GFT itself, he added, “Google owes us an explanation as to whether it published doctored data without disclosure, or if its highly-touted predictive model is so inaccurate that the search terms found to be the most predictive a few years ago are no longer predictive. If companies want to participate in science, they need to behave like scientists.”

Fung and the Science piece both were quoted in an op-ed in this Sunday’s New York Times, in which a pair of New York University professors take their turn, pointing out, for instance, that large datasets can produce large numbers of correlations that are merely spurious, that “many tools that are based on big data can be easily gamed” and that analytical tools can create an “echo-chamber effect,” for example when Google Translate pieces together translation patterns on the basis of articles that have been produced using… Google Translate.

There’s more: A piece in the Financial Times on March 28, “Big data: are we making a big mistake?” presents another pointed look at the shortcomings in big-data analysis, suggesting that reliance on correlations in the absence of a theory of their cause is “inevitably fragile.” The size and inherent messiness of big data, the piece adds, can conceal misleading bias within. It includes this comment from David Spiegelhalter, a professor at Cambridge University: “There are a lot of small data problems that occur in big data. They don’t disappear because you’ve got lots of stuff. They get worse.”

Finally, there’s a paper prepared for a conference of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence by Zeynep Tufekci, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, entitled, “Big Questions for Social Media Big Data: Representativeness, Validity and Other Methodological Pitfalls.” She lays out a range of difficulties in attempting to draw meaning from social media data in terms of sampling and analytical challenges alike, including many discussed in our own briefing paper on social media, first released in August 2012.

None of these pieces suggests that the concept of big data is dead. Rather they represent a pullback from the heady notion that very large datasets can somehow allow researchers to set aside the niceties of sampling, theory and attention to measurement error. More sober days may follow.

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At 49 Percent Support, Obamacare Hits a High http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/03/at-49-percent-support-obamacare-hits-a-high/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/03/at-49-percent-support-obamacare-hits-a-high/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 19:07:11 +0000 Gary Langer http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=878265 Public support for the Affordable Care Act narrowly notched a new high in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, while criticism of Barack Obama’s handling of the law’s rollout – although still substantial – has eased from its peak last fall.

Views hardly are enthusiastic: With the year’s sign-up deadline upon us, Americans split on Obamacare, 49 percent in support, 48 percent opposed. But that compares with a 40-57 percent negative rating after the initial failure of the federal enrollment website last November.

See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.

While still shy of a majority, 49 percent support is numerically the highest on record – albeit by a single point – in more than 20 ABC/Post polls since August 2009. The previous high was 48 percent in November 2009. The low was 39 percent in April 2012; the average, 45 percent.

Taking it another way, while not statistically significant, this survey’s +1 positive score for the law is a first. Other than an even 47-47 percent in July 2012, it’s been numerically negative in every other measurement, ranging from -1 to last November’s -17, averaging -5 points.

Most of the advance in support for the law came in December, marking November’s sharply negative turn as a blip inspired by HealthCare.gov’s crash landing. Most of the gains in approval of Obama’s handling of the law, by contrast, occurred just in the past month.

Among groups, this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that support for Obamacare compared with last November has gained among young adults, nonwhites, lower-income adults, those who lack a college degree – and, in a surprising result, political conservatives. While just 36 percent of conservatives back the law, that’s up from a mere 17 percent in the fall.

OBAMA/GOP – Obama, for his part, receives continued criticism for the law’s implementation. But disapproval has backed off from 63 percent in November to 54 percent now, while approval for his work on the rollout is up by 11 points, including six points this month, to 44 percent.

Further, reflecting the public’s overall division on Obamacare, there’s also a split on efforts by the Republicans in Congress to replace it with a new health care law: Forty-seven percent of Americans support that move, with 49 percent opposed.

Partisanship drives that boat. Seventy-six percent of Democrats support the ACA, compared with 20 percent of Republicans. By contrast, 85 percent of Republicans support efforts to create a GOP alternative, vs. 19 percent of Democrats.

CHANGE – Views on the law, as noted, have shifted disproportionately in an unexpected area – among conservatives. While most remain opposed, that’s declined from 81 percent in November to 61 percent now. Similarly, while conservatives are particularly critical of Obama’s handling of the law, this has eased from 84 percent disapproval last fall to 69 percent today.

These shifts have occurred disproportionately among conservatives who are not also Republicans, as well as among those who identify themselves as “somewhat” as opposed to “very” conservative. There’s been a 25-point increase in support for the law among non-Republican conservatives, vs. 8 points among conservative Republicans; and a 27-point increase among somewhat conservatives, vs. 10 points among strong conservatives.

Independents, potential swing voters in the midterm elections, continue to tilt against the law, with 44 percent in support, 54 percent opposed, but that compares with 36-62 percent last fall. And while just 37 percent of independents approve of Obama’s handling of the rollout, that is 14 points more than its low four and a half months ago.

Among other groups mentioned above, support for the ACA is up by 16 points vs. November among adults under age 40 – a coveted group for the law’s insurance pools – from 38 percent then to 54 percent now. It’s gained a similar 15 points among those with incomes less than $50,000, from 38 percent then to 53 percent; 14 points among nonwhites, to 68 percent (compared with just 40 percent support among whites); and 12 points among those who lack a college degree, to 46 percent support.

Finally, intensity of sentiment remains more negative than positive: Thirty-six percent of Americans “strongly” oppose the law vs. 25 percent who strongly support it. But, as with other results, that’s moderated, from 19 points net negative last fall to 11 points today.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone March 26-30, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,017 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y.

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Public Divides on College Players Union But Most Nix Salaries for Student Athletes http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/03/public-divides-on-college-players-union-but-most-nix-salaries-for-student-athletes/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/03/public-divides-on-college-players-union-but-most-nix-salaries-for-student-athletes/#comments Sun, 23 Mar 2014 04:01:55 +0000 Christopher Weiss http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=876315 With March Madness focusing fans on college sports, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds Americans split evenly on whether college athletes should be allowed to unionize. But most, regardless, say students shouldn’t be paid to play.

The public divides by 47-47 percent on whether student athletes should be able to create a union, like those in professional sports. But Americans by 2-1 oppose what might seem like a logical extension, allowing college players to receive salaries.

See PDF with full results and charts here.

The subject is of interest, given that 56 percent of adults describe themselves as college sports fans. And there are sharp divides among groups, including by age, race, income and education – and, on the issue of salaries, by sex and fandom.

This issue received attention last month, when members of Northwestern University’s football team sought government recognition as university employees, a first step toward unionization. Supporters say that, given the profitability of college sports, student athletes should have more say about the terms and conditions under which they play. Opponents counter that unionization would undermine the basis of college athletics as non-professional, student competition.

GROUPS – This poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds the sharpest divisions in views on unionization by race and age. Sixty-six percent of nonwhites and 64 percent of those younger than 40 support the idea, dropping steeply to 38 percent of whites and those 40 and older alike.

In a related result, support falls from 57 percent among people with household incomes less than $50,000 to 40 percent among those with higher incomes. Lower-income nonwhites are especially supportive of the idea, with 73 percent in favor, vs. 44 percent of lower-income whites.

There are similar splits in views on paying salaries to college athletes. Strikingly, more than twice as many nonwhites as whites support the idea, 51 vs. 24 percent. And there are smaller, 11- and 12-point gaps among the age and income groups noted above.

Among other groups, men are more likely than women to support salaries for college athletes, 40 vs. 27 percent, though their views on unionization are about the same. Race again plays a role: About half of nonwhite men and women alike support paying salaries; that drops to 32 percent of white men, and falls further among white women, to just 17 percent.

Fandom peaks in three groups. Men are more likely than women to be college sports fans, 66 vs. 47 percent. So are Southerners (65 percent are fans) vs. those in the rest of the country (51 percent, with little regional differentiation). And nearly two-thirds of those with household incomes of $100,000 or more call themselves fans, compared with 54 percent of those earning less. There’s little difference among other groups.

Finally, there’s a partisan divide on the questions of unionization and compensation. Forty-two percent of Democrats support allowing athletes to receive salaries, compared with 30 percent of independents and 22 percent of Republicans. Similarly, more than six in 10 Democrats and nearly half of independents support allowing college players to unionize. That falls to just fewer than three in 10 Republicans.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Feb. 27-March 2, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including design effect.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.


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Majority Backs Sanctions on Russia Only With European Allies on Board http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/03/majority-backs-sanctions-on-russia-only-with-european-allies-on-board/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/03/majority-backs-sanctions-on-russia-only-with-european-allies-on-board/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 11:00:11 +0000 Greg Holyk http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=876023 Most Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll support economic sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine – but only if the United States’ European allies participate.

The result marks a general preference in U.S. attitudes for allied rather than unilateral action on international conflicts. In this case, 56 percent support imposing joint U.S.-EU economic sanctions on Russia. But support for the United States acting alone declines to 40 percent.

See PDF with full results and charts here.

Views of Barack Obama’s handling of the situation, for their part, are evenly divided, in line with his recent job approval marks overall. His ratings on the issue, as on others, are highly partisan: Seven in 10 Democrats and six in 10 liberals approve, while three-quarters of Republicans and strong conservatives disapprove.

Obama last week took steps to freeze the assets of Russian individuals and entities tied to the country’s actions in Crimea and to deny U.S. visas to Russian officials involved in the situation. European leaders are meeting this week to consider economic and diplomatic steps; some analysts say they may feel constrained by greater economic ties between Europe and Russia.

This poll, produced by ABC for Langer Research Associates, finds that backing for sanctions falls by similar levels among Republicans, Democrats and independents – by 16, 17 and 20 points, respectively – when moving from multilateral to unilateral action. Democrats and Republicans go to an even split, while independents shift from 53 percent in support to 57 percent opposed.

Liberals and moderates also switch from majority support to majority opposition if European allies aren’t on board. Conservatives go from six in 10 in support to evenly divided.

Support for multilateral sanctions is greater among men, younger adults, college graduates and higher-income earners than among their counterparts. In all groups, though, backing for unilateral U.S. sanctions fails to reach a majority.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone March 5-9, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,014 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y.

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Two-Thirds Back Keystone Pipeline; More See Jobs than Environmental Risk http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/03/two-thirds-back-keystone-pipeline-more-see-jobs-than-environmental-risk/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/03/two-thirds-back-keystone-pipeline-more-see-jobs-than-environmental-risk/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 05:01:21 +0000 Damla Ergun http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=875628 Support for the Keystone XL pipeline reached a two-year high in the latest ABC News/ Washington Post poll, with the public overwhelmingly saying it would create jobs, while dividing on its potential environmental impact.

Two-thirds favor government approval of the 1,700-mile, $5.4 billion pipeline to move oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, up 6 points from 2012, vs. two in 10 opposed. Eighty-five percent think it would create jobs, with 62 percent feeling that way strongly – up 11 percentage points.

See PDF with full results and tables here.

Views that the pipeline would create a significant number of jobs far outstrip concerns that it poses a sizable environmental risk – an opinion nonetheless held by 47 percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Notably, among those who see a risk, 45 percent support the pipeline anyway, apparently persuaded by the perceived jobs benefit.

Strong belief that the pipeline will create jobs is up in particular, by 13 to 20 points, among men, political independents, nonwhites and Americans living in the Midwest and the South, regions through which the pipeline would pass.

Opinions about Keystone’s potential effects factor into support for it: Among those who strongly feel that it will create more jobs, 83 percent think it should be approved. Support plummets to 27 percent among those who feel strongly that it poses risks to the environment. (It’s far higher, 67 percent, among those who see an environmental risk, but don’t feel strongly about it.)

A State Department report in January concluded that oil would be produced and transported to the market regardless of Keystone, contrary to suggestions that it would add to the release of greenhouse gases. In addition to jobs, supporters have argued that the pipeline would reduce dependence on oil from less reliable or less friendly sources.

GROUPS – Partisan and ideological divisions are at play, with support for approving the pipeline peaking among Republicans at 82 percent, vs. 65 percent among independents and 51 percent of Democrats. Ideological patterns are similar, with support ranging from 75 percent of conservatives to 46 percent of liberals. Similarly, expectations that it would create jobs are higher among Republicans and conservatives, while Democrats and liberals are more likely to see significant environmental risks.

Regionally, the pipeline is supported by 71 percent in the Midwest and the South alike, vs. 60 and 56 percent, respectively, in the Northeast and West. Perceptions that it would create jobs peak among Southerners, while fewer in the Midwest and South see environmental risks.

Among other groups, the pipeline gets more support from suburban and rural Americans than from urbanites, from older compared with younger adults and from men vs. women.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Feb. 27-March 2, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including design effect.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.

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Two-Thirds Would Consider Clinton – Ahead, for Now, of GOP Prospects http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/03/two-thirds-would-consider-clinton-ahead-for-now-of-gop-prospects/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/03/two-thirds-would-consider-clinton-ahead-for-now-of-gop-prospects/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 05:01:56 +0000 Greg Holyk http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=875465 Two-thirds of Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say they’d consider supporting Hillary Clinton for president, far more than the current take-a-look numbers for a range of potential Republican candidates – some of them less popular, others just less known.

As potential Republican candidates make their appearances at the Conservative Political Action Committee Conference starting today, 25 percent of Americans say they’d “definitely” support Clinton if she ran for president and 41 percent say they would consider her. The rest, 32 percent, rule her out – fewer than did so in 2006-7, in advance of her losing run for the 2008 Democratic nomination.

See PDF with full results and tables here.

Some in the potential GOP herd start with bigger handicaps, including some marquee names: Forty-nine percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, say they’d definitely not support Mitt Romney; 48 percent say the same about Jeb Bush (perhaps conflating him with his brother George, deeply unpopular in his second term).

Thirty-eight to 40 percent rule out other notable Republicans, including Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry. Fewer, 32 and 28 percent, respectively, rule out supporting Marco Rubio or the particularly little-known Scott Walker. In any case, each of these still has a clear majority available to woo – and a majority is what it takes.

GOP DIVISIONS – Getting there, though, is a challenge: Sharp ideological divisions mark views within the ranks of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, underscoring the conflict between “very” conservative Republicans and less-so ones.

Willingness at least to consider Rand Paul, for example, reaches 83 percent among very conservative Republicans but slides to 60 percent among their “somewhat” conservative counterparts. There’s a similar gap for Scott Walker and a sizable one for Ted Cruz, as well.

Tea Party favorites are likely to be among the most popular attendees at CPAC, while Christie, with his more moderate image (and recent Bridgegate scandal) may fare less well. As noted, potential support from strong conservative Republicans ranges as high as 83 percent for Paul – but drops as low as a downright chilly 52 percent for Christie. Nor does Christie do better among somewhat conservative Republicans, a challenge if he runs.

At the same time, among all adults, 48 percent say they’d consider Christie, as good or better than any of his competitors. It’s the nomination that’s his bigger difficulty.

Rubio, Paul and Huckabee, for their part, maintain high levels of support among somewhat conservative and moderate Republicans, but it’s Bush and Romney who lead in this wing of the GOP. Seventy-four percent of somewhat conservatives in the party would at least consider Romney and two-thirds say the same for Bush; both also have potential support from seven in 10 moderate leaned Republicans. (Strong conservatives account for 23 percent of all Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in this poll, somewhat conservatives for 36 percent and moderates for 32 percent.)

Meanwhile Walker, the Wisconsin governor, has an opportunity to gain a greater following given that he’s unknown to 35 percent overall and three in 10 leaned Republicans.

OVERALL – Two-thirds of Americans, as noted, say they’d at least consider Clinton for president; that drops to the high 30s to high 40s for the Republicans tested in this survey. Simply being known is one factor: While just 2 percent can’t say whether or not they’d consider Clinton, that jumps, for example, to 15 percent for Paul, 23 percent for Rubio and 35 percent for Walker. As they become better known, their take-a-look numbers may well grow.

Clinton’s potential voters include nine in 10 Democrats, two-thirds of independents and even a third of Republicans. Among possible Republican candidates, Rubio is competitive within his own party and also has reasonable interest outside it. Some of the others show less cross-border appeal.

GROUPS – As expected given partisan preferences, whites, rural dwellers and evangelical white Protestants are most willing to consider Republican candidates. Clinton, for her part, gets the closest look from nonwhites, those with no religious affiliation, young adults, people earning less than $50,000 a year, those with either the most or least formal education, Northeasterners and women.

There’s also an age effect: Young adults generally are more willing to give any of the possible candidates a chance, while seniors are most apt to rule them out.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Feb. 27-March 2, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including design effect. Partisan divisions are 30-22-40 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.

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Record Support for Gay Marriage; Half See it as a Constitutional Right http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/03/record-support-for-gay-marriage-half-see-it-as-a-constitutional-right/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/03/record-support-for-gay-marriage-half-see-it-as-a-constitutional-right/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 05:01:52 +0000 Gary Langer http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=875247 Record numbers of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll support gay marriage, say adoption by gay couples should be legal and see gays and lesbians as good parents. Most oppose a right to refuse service to gays, including on religious grounds. And, by a closer margin, more also accept than reject gay marriage as a constitutional right.

The results continue a dramatic transformation of public attitudes on the issue, led by political, legislative and court-ordered developments alike. Seventeen states now allow gay marriage, and federal courts in four others – most recently Texas and Virginia – have rejected laws banning it.

See PDF with full results and charts here.

Support for gay marriage has advanced from 32 percent in 2004 to a majority for the first time three years ago and on to 59 percent in this survey, a new high. Opposition, at 34 percent, is down by 6 percentage points since last summer and 13 points in less than a year and a half.

“Strong” support for allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, moreover, now exceeds strong opposition by 15 points, a record positive gap in intensity of sentiment. By contrast, strong opposition held sway by a vast 34 points in a similar question nearly 10 years ago.

Other changes in this survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, are equally profound:

  • In a Time/CNN poll in 1992, just 29 percent of Americans supported allowing gay couples to adopt children. That advanced to 49 percent in an ABC/Post poll in 2006 – and to 61 percent now, a sizable majority.
  • In a question posed by a Newsweek poll in 1996, 57 percent said gays “can be as good parents as straight people.” Today, 78 percent say so, a 21-point jump.
  • Sixty-five percent, another high, say being homosexual is just the way people are, rather than the way they choose to be – similar to a year ago (62 percent) but up from 49 percent when first asked by ABC/Post polls in 1994. The number who see being gay as a choice has ebbed from 40 percent two decades ago to 25 percent now.

Further, with the subject clearly headed back to the Supreme Court, a new question in this survey asks whether – regardless of their own preference on the issue – Americans think the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution gives gays the legal right to marry. In a closer but still significant division, 50 percent say it does, while 41 percent say not, with the rest undecided.

In another question, 81 percent say businesses should not be allowed to refuse service to gays and lesbians; 65 percent say so even if the business says homosexuality violates its owners’ religious beliefs. That refers to controversial legislation approved by the Arizona legislature but vetoed by its governor last week.

The questions on adoption and parenting, for their part, test attitudes on suggestions by opponents of gay marriage that children of homosexuals fare less well than those raised by heterosexuals – an argument currently before a federal court in Detroit.

GROUPS – Some longstanding differences among groups remain, with gay marriage continuing to divide the nation sharply by ideology, partisanship, age, education and religious belief.

Among the largest divisions, support for gay marriage ranges from 82 percent of liberals to just 27 percent of strong conservatives, and from 81 percent of the non-religious to 33 percent of evangelical Protestants.

Seventy-five percent of young adults (under age 30) support gay marriage, compared with 47 percent of seniors; so do 70 percent of Democrats compared with 40 percent of Republicans, and 71 percent of adults with a postgraduate education vs. 52 percent of those who haven’t gone beyond high school. There’s also a narrower division between the sexes, with women more apt than men to support gay marriage by a 9-point margin, 63 vs. 54 percent.

The partisan and ideological differences play out in other ways. Support for gay marriage ranges from 64 percent in urban areas, which tend to have more Democrats and liberals, to 50 percent in rural areas, with more conservatives. Similarly, 65 percent support gay marriage in the so-called blue states won by Barack Obama in 2012, vs. 48 percent in Mitt Romney’s red states.

Divisions on other questions are similar. Viewing gay marriage as a constitutional right peaks, at 67 to 71 percent, among the non-religious, young adults, liberals and postgraduates; it bottoms out at 22 percent of strong conservatives, 29 percent of evangelical Protestants and about four in 10 Republicans, older adults and rural dwellers.

At the same time, there are few groups in which majorities oppose allowing gay or lesbian couples to adopt a child – strong conservatives and evangelical Protestants – and none in which majorities (or even more than a third) say gays can’t be as good parents as straight people.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Feb. 27-March 2, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including design effect.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.

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Economy Hits Dems, GOP “Out of Touch” – Pushing Anti-Incumbency to a 25-Year High http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/03/economy-hits-dems-gop-out-of-touch-pushing-anti-incumbency-to-a-25-year-high/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/03/economy-hits-dems-gop-out-of-touch-pushing-anti-incumbency-to-a-25-year-high/#comments Tue, 04 Mar 2014 05:01:17 +0000 Gary Langer http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=875152 Anti-incumbent sentiment has reached a 25-year high in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, with economic frustration damaging Barack Obama’s Democrats while the Republican Party labors under a broad view that it’s out of touch with the concerns of most Americans.

The Republicans run evenly with the Democrats in congressional vote preference among registered voters, historically a strong position for the GOP given its advantage in midterm turnout. Perhaps more important, with control of the U.S. Senate at stake, the Republicans have a 50-42 percent advantage for Senate seats in the 34 states holding those contests.

See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.

That said, the Tea Party is a substantial risk factor for the Republicans, the Democrats have gained back some ground since January on key issues – and the public’s double-barreled discontent poses deep uncertainty for both political parties at this stage of the midterm contest.

TOSS ‘EM? – Just 22 percent of Americans are inclined to re-elect their representative in Congress, the fewest since ABC/Post polls first asked the question in 1989. Instead this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that 68 percent say they’re ready to look around for someone new. That’s 14 percentage points more than average, and while anti-incumbency has been close before – 66 percent last October – it’s never been quite this high.

Anti-incumbent sentiment is largely economic in nature; as such, while there’s dissatisfaction with both parties, it’s pointed more at the Democrats, given their control of the big chair at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Pro-incumbents favor the Democrat in their congressional district by a 14-point margin. Anti-incumbents favor the Republicans, by 8.

Most damaging to the Democrats is that 72 percent of Americans still rate the economy negatively, more than five years into Obama’s stewardship. While that’s sharply down from its peak, 94 percent, as he took office, it’s still a broad majority. Moreover, while 56 percent say the economy has begun to improve, that view has lost steam – and among those who do see a recovery, two-thirds say it’s a weak one.

Obama’s own job performance rating is flat, at a below-majority 46 percent approval, unchanged from late January and only slightly above his career-low 42 percent in November. Fifty percent disapprove, and “strong” disapproval of the president exceeds his strong approval by 13 points, although that’s eased from 18- and 22-point gaps from November through January.

GOP – These views might be more damaging to the Democrats were it not for the GOP’s own problems. Sixty-eight percent of Americans see the Republican Party as “out of touch” with the concerns of most people in this country, far more than say the same about Obama (49 percent) or the Democratic Party (48 percent) – weak ratings in their own right. These are essentially unchanged in the past year.

Further, while the parties are evenly rated in trust to handle several key issues, the Democrats have gained ground on some, and there is none on which the Republicans clearly lead. In one important shortfall, the Republican Party trails the Democrats by 13 points in trust to help the middle class.

In a specific land mine for the Republicans, Americans by a vast 31 points, 50 vs. 19 percent, say they’re more likely rather than less likely to vote for a candidate who supports raising the minimum wage. That gives the Democrats some potential pushback against the GOP’s economic argument.

Then there’s the Tea Party movement, five years after it got rolling. While 40 percent of Americans support the Tea Party overall, just 8 percent call themselves strong supporters, numerically a new low (albeit by a single point) and half of what it was three years ago. More important, Americans by a 20-point margin say they’re less likely rather than more likely to vote for a candidate who supports the Tea Party, 36 vs. 16 percent.

There are intra-party issues as well. While 41 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents call it a good thing for Tea Party candidates to challenge Republican incumbents; 47 percent call it a bad thing. There’s an ideological schism here: Sixty-one percent of “very” conservative Republicans see Tea Party challenges as a good thing. That falls steeply to 38 percent of “somewhat” conservatives and 27 percent of moderate Republicans.

ON THE ISSUES – Head-to-head tests on top issues show some improvement for the Democrats, though not enough to change the bottom line of vote preferences. In January the Republicans had a 7-point lead in trust to handle the economy; today it’s a dead even 41-41 percent. The Democrats also have gone from a 10-point shortfall to a non-significant 2 points in trust to handle the deficit, and to an 8-point advantage on immigration, vs. 2 points in January.

Despite the controversy over Obamacare – and the president’s poor rating for handling its rollout – the Democrats are maintaining an edge, now 8 points, in trust to handle health care. They have the same advantage in trust on energy policy and they’re even with the Republicans on taxes.

Running competitively on taxes and the deficit should bode well for the Democrats. But they’re pulled back, as noted, by economic unhappiness and Obama’s tepid ratings. (Beyond his overall 46 percent approval, majorities disapprove of his handling of economy and Obamacare, 54 and 57 percent, respectively. The president has about an even split on handling international affairs in this poll, completed Sunday night as conflict was brewing in Ukraine.)

ISSUES and VOTES – For election purposes, what matters is not just comparative trust on the issues but which positions actually motivate voters. As noted, a candidate’s support for raising the minimum wage is a strong positive in these results, and his or her supporting the Tea Party is a substantial negative.

The federal health care law, for all the sound and fury, is looking like more of a wash: Thirty-six percent say they’d be less likely to vote for a candidate who favors the law, but essentially as many, 34 percent, would be more apt to back such a candidate, with the rest saying it would make no difference. (Reactions were more negative at the time of the botched rollout in November.) Supporting gay marriage also produces an even split in vote impact, while supporting a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is a net negative by 8 points.

Given the strength of partisanship in voting, these results may be most telling among independents. The pattern’s similar, with a strong positive impact of favoring a higher minimum wage, negative impacts of supporting the Tea Party or a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and little impact of supporting either Obamacare or gay marriage.

VOTE PREFERENCE and PARTY ID – Indeed, in House and Senate races alike, it’s independents who are keeping things hot, siding with Republicans for the House by 9 points and for the Senate by 16. It makes more of a difference in Senate races because independents account for slightly more registered voters in those 34 states than in the other 16, while Democrats are scarcer.

Also telling are partisan divisions among all adults nationally. In a sign of continued disaffection with the main parties, independents account for 40 percent of Americans overall; they’ve outnumbered either Democrats or Republicans almost continuously for nearly the past five years, by far their longest predominance since ABC/Post polling began in 1981.

Thirty percent are Democrats in this poll, and, in line with the GOP’s high “out of touch” rating, just 22 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans. Both are at the low end of their recent ranges.

ECONOMY – Regardless of other factors, as so often is the case, it’s the economy that rules the roost. Among Americans who say the economy is in excellent or good shape (27 percent of the public), 75 percent support Democratic congressional candidates. That tumbles to 44 percent of those who say the economy’s not so good, and just 21 percent of those who say it’s poor.

Similarly, Democratic support ranges from 84 percent of those who see a strong recovery to 44 percent of those who see a weak one and just 30 percent among those who see no recovery at all. (One reason: Democrats are disproportionately positive about the economy.)

Economic sentiment also feeds the country’s now-record anti-incumbency. Among Americans who hold positive views of the economy’s current condition and its direction alike, 55 percent are inclined to find new representation in Congress, about matching the long-term average for all adults. It’s among those who rate the economy especially negatively, or who see no recovery at all, that anti-incumbency soars, to three-quarters in both those groups.

There are some better signs for the economy; the number who rate it as outright “poor,” 28 percent, is its fewest since November 2007, down a vast from 62 percent when Obama took office. The question is whether that’s enough – because for all the political positioning ahead, the strongest likely influence on 2014 politics will be the same issue that’s been sorely vexing the country for seven years running: the condition of the national economy.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Feb. 27-March 2, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including design effect. Partisan divisions are 30-22-40 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.

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Figure Skating Glides to Gold in Winter Games Popularity http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/02/figure-skating-glides-to-gold-in-winter-games-popularity/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/02/figure-skating-glides-to-gold-in-winter-games-popularity/#comments Wed, 12 Feb 2014 12:00:45 +0000 Gary Langer http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/?p=873287 Figure skating glides to Olympic gold in U.S. popularity, with downhill skiing slaloming into silver and ice hockey cross-checking its way to the bronze.

Unless you’re a guy, in which case the skate’s on the other foot.

Skating, skiing and hockey go 1-2-3 among all Americans by dint of figure skating’s huge popularity among women, this ABC News/Washington Post poll finds. Leave it to men, and the order’s flipped, with ice hockey first in popularity, skiing still second, figure skating third.

It’s therefore, as some may see things in Sochi, all about who’s doing the judging.

See PDF with full results and chart here.

Each of these sports at the Winter Games is broadly popular: Among all Americans, 72 percent express a favorable opinion of Olympic figure skating, 68 percent see Olympic downhill skiing favorably and a similar 65 percent view Olympic ice hockey positively. (The difference between skiing and hockey is not statistically significant, given the scoring system used in polling.)

But positive views of figure skating range from 82 percent among women to 62 percent among men, a big 20-point gap in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. And women are twice as likely as men to have a “strongly” favorable opinion of figure skating, 46 vs. 23 percent.

Ice hockey, on the other hand, gets a favorable score from 70 percent of men, compared with 59 percent of women, less of a gap but still a substantial 11 percentage points. (Men are a similar 12 points more likely to see it strongly favorably.) Men and women are more apt to agree on the third Olympic sport tested in this survey, downhill skiing.

There are some other differences. All three sports are a bit less popular in the South than elsewhere, not a surprise since it’s harder to find ice and snow there to play on. Whites are more apt than nonwhites to like skiing and hockey (no difference on figure skating), with hockey notably weak among blacks – just 46 percent see the sport favorably. And skiing and hockey are less popular among lower-income adults, perhaps given the cost of participation.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone Feb. 5-9, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,017 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y.

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