Politics and Public Opinion

Polls on terrorism and the Tea Party

Image Credit: Susan E Adams (Flickr) (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Image Credit: Susan E Adams (Flickr) (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Give the government some credit: The polls in recent weeks have been filled with bad news for Washington. When Gallup asks about the most important problem facing the country, around 15% in recent months have spontaneously mentioned dysfunction in Washington. We haven’t seen this level of concern since Watergate. Congress’s ratings continue to bump along at very low levels. Another Gallup poll found that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell are all viewed more unfavorably than favorably (see below for more details).

With all this bad news for Washington, it’s nice to see the public giving the government a vote of confidence on something. Sixty-nine percent of those in a new poll of registered voters from Fox News said they approve of the job the government was doing to protect the country from terrorism. Fox has asked this question six other times, and in all but one asking, a solid majority approved.

In the new Economist/YouGov internet poll, 79% approved of the way law enforcement authorities handled the Boston marathon bombings.

Tea Party time: Yesterday, the House Tea Party Caucus held a reception on Capitol Hill. The group has been inactive for some time. Twenty-three percent in an April poll told AP-GfK/Roper pollsters that they were supporters of the Tea Party movement, but 69% said they were not. The pollsters have asked that question regularly. The high water mark for supporters was 33% in June 2011.

Anger on gun control?: When asked in early April, 90% of Americans told ABC/Washington Post pollsters that they approved expanding background checks on gun purchases. It was a rare instance of near unanimous public opinion. But Americans don’t seem as broken up about the recent defeat of the gun legislation as that poll might imply. In a new Pew/Washington Post poll, 47% said they were disappointed or angry about the bill’s failure in the Senate. Thirty-nine percent were very happy or relieved the bill didn’t pass. Self-identified post-graduates were the angriest: 31% were angry the gun legislation did not pass.


Leadership in Congress: Gallup queried opinions on four congressional leaders, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell. None of them received more positive evaluations than negative ones. Nancy Pelosi was the least liked, with 31% having a favorable opinion and 48% an unfavorable one. Across the board, many didn’t have an opinion. Twenty-one percent had never heard of or had no opinion of Pelosi, 36% said the same about Harry Reid, 28% John Boehner, and 39% Mitch McConnell.

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