Politics and Public Opinion

What you may have missed in the polls: The Buffett rule, North Korea, and women’s choices

The Buffett Rule enjoys strong support in most polls. In a March Ipsos/Reuters poll, for example, 64 percent supported it. But there is little evidence that this specific issue or tax issues in general will be high priorities for voters this fall. In a Gallup poll from February, 45 percent said a candidate’s positions on the economy would be “extremely important” in influencing their vote. Twenty-nine percent said taxes would be, and a quarter cited the gap between rich and poor. Taxes ranked sixth of nine issues the pollsters examined. AEI’s new compilation of public opinion data on tax attitudes is available on the AEI website.

North Korea: As North Korea failed to launch a long-range rocket in defiance of the United States, more Americans than in the past are saying they view the reclusive regime very unfavorably. Fifty-three percent in a February 2012 Gallup poll see the regime in a very unfavorable light, and 31 percent in a mostly unfavorable one. Thirteen percent had a favorable opinion of the country. Ten percent of Americans see the regime as the United States’ greatest enemy.

Women’s Voices, Women’s Choices: Hilary Rosen’s comment that Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life brought rapid push back from senior Obama campaign operatives. In writing about a new National Journal poll that explored women’s attitudes, Ron Brownstein said that the “mommy wars” between “women who worked outside the home and those who stayed there to rear children” were over. The survey found that many women were at peace with the idea of shifting between the two roles “at a pace and proportion they control.” Reading between the data lines, it is clear that most women respect the choices other women make.

Neighborhood Crime Watch: In October, Gallup updated some questions the organization started asking about crime in the mid-1960s. Thirty-eight percent said there was an area within a mile of where they lived where they would be afraid to walk. In 1965, 34 percent gave that response. The responses have moved up and down unevenly over the past 47 years, reaching a high of 48 percent in 1982 and a low of 30 percent in 2001.

When asked about the problem of crime “where you live,” 11 percent said it was extremely or very serious and 41 percent moderately serious.  Fifty-four percent said the crime problem in the nation was extremely or very serious and 39 percent moderately serious.

Both Gallup and Pew found in new polls that blacks are paying greater attention than people who aren’t black to the story of the death of Trayvon Martin. In Gallup’s poll, 72 percent of blacks said George Zimmerman was definitely (51 percent) or probably (21 percent) guilty.  Among nonblacks, those responses were 11 and 21 percent, respectively.

Political Knowledge: Pew has just released another of its popular political knowledge quizzes. Republicans were more likely than Democrats to know that Nancy Pelosi was a Democrat (75 and 59 percent, respectively). They were also more likely to know that Franklin Roosevelt was a Democrat and Abraham Lincoln a Republican. Knowledge levels among Republicans and Democrats were similar about Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and John F. Kennedy’s partisan identification.

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