Hail Mary: With Super Bowl Sunday around the corner, a new Public Religion Research Institute poll finds that 27% of Americans agree that God plays a role in determining which team wins a sporting event. In a separate question, a majority (53%) believe that God rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success, while 42% disagreed with that statement.
The young and hopeful: American youth are largely optimistic about their future. When asked by Gallup recently, 42% of fifth through twelfth graders said it was very likely that they will have a better life than their parents. Fifty-three percent said it was somewhat likely, 4% said it was somewhat unlikely, and 1% said very unlikely. No word yet on whether a life that involves more Justin Bieber, Twilight, and Instagram self-portraits can truly be considered a better life.
The rising deficit: Pew recently compiled their annual list of policies Americans consider the highest priority for the president and Congress to deal with this year. Strengthening the economy and improving the job situation remained at the top, with 86% and 79% of Americans listing the two as top priorities. Reducing the budget deficit was listed as a top priority by 72% of Americans, an increase of 19 points from 2009, when 53% of Americans listed it as such. Eighty-four percent of Republicans and 67% of Democrats said it should be a top priority.
State of the nation: Gallup polled Americans about the state of the nation in a variety of areas. Americans are most satisfied with the nation’s military strength and preparedness (74%) and the nation’s security from terrorism (67%). They are least satisfied with the state of the nation’s economy (20%) and the nation’s efforts to deal with poverty and homelessness (25%). Issues that displayed the most amount of change between 2005 and today were the state of the nation’s economy (down 27 points), the acceptance of homosexuality in the nation (up 17 points), and the nation’s policies to reduce or control crime (down 16 points).
Partisan divergence: In the Gallup poll, Republicans and Democrats strongly diverged in their satisfaction with the state of America’s gun laws. There was a 31-point gap between the satisfaction of Democrats (28%) and Republicans (59%) on the issue. Self-identified members of the parties were in strong agreement when it came to the state of race relations, where only 2-points separated Democrats (50%) and Republicans (52%).
The inaugural: Fifty-one percent told ABC/Washington Post pollsters that they approved of Obama’s inaugural address last week. Twenty-four percent disapproved and 25% had no opinion. Sadly, the survey did not ask about the most important issue surrounding the inaugural: Did Beyoncé lip sink? The jury is still out.