Politics and Public Opinion, Polls

2016 nominees, government as the problem, and the year in review: What you may have missed in this week’s polls

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Burma. Image Credit: State.gov

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Burma. Image Credit: State.gov

2016 nominees: When the Economist and YouGov asked people about the ideology of the next Democratic presidential candidate, 13% nationally said the nominee should be more liberal, 38% about the same, and 29% less liberal. Fifteen percent of Democrats wanted their nominee to be more liberal, 62% about the same, and 7% less liberal.

Twenty-two percent nationally wanted the 2016 Republican presidential nominee to be more conservative, 22% about the same, and 32% less conservative. Self-identified Republicans had a different take. Forty percent of them wanted a more conservative nominee, 33% someone about the same, and 14% less conservative.

Government is the problem: Thirty-seven percent told Allstate/National Journal pollsters that “in the current economic environment, government is not the solution to our economic problems; government is the problem.” Twenty-eight percent felt closer to the viewpoint “I would like to see government play an active role in the economy to ensure that it benefits people like me, but I am not sure that I can trust government to do this effectively.” Thirty-one percent “in the current economic environment, the government must play an active role in regulating the marketplace and ensuring that the economy benefits people like me.”

Overcoming challenges: Sixty-seven percent told Allstate/National Journal pollsters that Americans will overcome these challenges (described in the poll as including but not limited to a large budget deficit, national debt, a slow economic recovery, high unemployment, and a deep political divide) in the foreseeable future, just like we’ve done with other major challenges throughout our history. Thirty-one percent said we are facing a unique set of challenges that are so serious that we might not be able to overcome them.

Year in review: When NBC/Wall Street Journal pollsters asked people to assess 2012, 21% said it was one of the worst years, 43% a below-average year, 27% said it was about an average year, and 9% said it was an above-average or one of the best years. Pew asked if people thought 2013 will be better or worse than 2012. Fifty-five percent said they think it will be better and 36% said worse. No word yet on how many were believers in Mayan prophecies.

Business profits: In a mid-November survey, when Gallup asked about “big business profits,” 64% said such profits helped the economy and 17% said they hurt. Majorities of Democrats (55%), Independents (59%), and Republicans (83%) said they helped.

The responses for small business profits were more favorable: 84% said they helped the economy and only 3% hurt.

Who is Grover Norquist?: While Mr. Norquist has been the center of attention in Washington lately, most Americans are unaware of him. Sixty-one percent told GWU/Politico pollsters that they had never heard of him.

Military brass: The Petraeus scandal appears not to have affected the public’s overall opinions of military leaders. In the latest Pew poll, 71% had a favorable opinion of military leaders, a 6-point increase since the question was last asked in March 2007. Eighteen percent had an unfavorable opinion.

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