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Michael J. O'Neil
Michael J. O'Neil is President of O'Neil Associates, a national public opinion research firm based in Tempe, Arizona. O'Neil Associates has conducted more than 1,700 opinion research surveys in the last 35 years for entities including Fortune 100 companies, law firms, labor unions, hospitals, utilities, nonprofits, and government agencies. Dr. O’Neil has also been a television and radio commentator in every election since 1980. A sociologist by training, he has taught at several universities including the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, and Northwestern. Links to many of his past writings and commentaries are available at and company information is at

Entries by Michael J. O'Neil

How to Select a President: Reflections on the First 2016 Presidential Debate

(0) Comments | Posted August 12, 2015 | 12:52 PM

I have been thinking about the recently concluded GOP debate.

Consider, for a moment, what the job of the President entails. He or she gets access to the very best brains in the world. He or she gets to hear a multitude of viewpoints. Then, almost always, he or...

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Restore the 1968 Minimum Wage

(119) Comments | Posted December 12, 2013 | 3:20 PM

The current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. If one works at this rate 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year (i.e., with no sick days, holidays or vacation days whatsoever) it yields an annual income of $15,080). The poverty level is $15,510 for a family of...

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Obama Inauguration II: Reflections on Loving and the American Experience

(1) Comments | Posted January 16, 2013 | 10:40 PM

On the occasion of Barack Obama's second inauguration, I recall one moment from election night 2008 that hit me emotionally. While the presidential outcome was already evident by that time the results came in from Virginia, there was something about those particular results that jarred something in my memory.

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In the Instant: Guns and the Irrational Perception of Risk

(200) Comments | Posted January 7, 2013 | 6:10 PM

There is a deranged person with a gun at the door of your kid's classroom. In that instant, do you want your kid's teacher to be armed? Of course you do.

This is the image presented by the NRA's recently announced "response" to the Newtown shooting and other shootings....

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The Tax Deal: How to Win by Yielding

(32) Comments | Posted November 26, 2012 | 6:53 PM

With the election over, the political attention has turned to the fiscal "cliff" built into last year's budget deal. The Democrats have fixated on, and Republicans have resisted, allowing the top income tax rate to increase from 36 percent to the 39.6 percent it was at prior to the Bush...

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2012 Election: The Other Big Winners and Losers

(4) Comments | Posted October 30, 2012 | 6:40 PM

While the obvious winner and loser of the 2012 election will be the candidates themselves -- Obama and Romney -- there are some less obvious figures whose futures may hinge on the vote next week. These may not seem very important Tuesday evening. But by the next morning, they will....

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I Like Romney

(9) Comments | Posted July 26, 2012 | 4:00 PM

Transparency: When he ran for president, Romney released twelve years of tax returns, noting that any single year's return could be a fluke. While they weren't actually full returns as often reported, it was a path-breaking gesture and it became the standard against which many future presidential candidates'...

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The Only Other 2012 Bellwether Election

(0) Comments | Posted June 8, 2012 | 2:26 PM

Prior to the November presidential election, there are only two instances this year where actual voters will cast ballots in elections that could provide a clue about the mood of the electorate. The first of these was the Wisconsin recall election, in which Republican Governor Scott Walker successfully withstood an...

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Obama and Gay Marriage: One Key Advantage

(0) Comments | Posted May 10, 2012 | 1:25 AM

What impact will Obama's endorsement of gay marriage have on the presidential election?

I am tempted to respond the way Chou En-lai did when he was asked what he thought was the impact of the French Revolution: "Too early to say."

In simplistic terms, however, there are several basic relevant...

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The Future of American Politics

(1) Comments | Posted March 28, 2012 | 5:40 PM

The 2012 campaign for the Republican nomination for president has provided a clear indication of the shape of post-Citizens United politics in America.

Just take a look at what has happened in the campaign thus far:

Mitt Romney emerged as an early frontrunner. A series of candidates then sequentially emerged...

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Michigan and Arizona Primaries: Similarities and Differences

(1) Comments | Posted February 27, 2012 | 5:01 PM

Three things will ensure the victory in almost any election. Indeed, the first two of these are often sufficient. With the third, however, victory is a lock cinch:

  1. One side launches a substantial negative campaign defining his opponent to the voters.
  2. The opposing candidate does not respond.
  3. The opposing candidate...
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How Santorum Blew It

(2) Comments | Posted February 21, 2012 | 10:58 AM

When I wrote this in the Huffington Post last week, there was but a single presidential poll after February 7, when Santorum began his dramatic national surge in the polls after a triple victory night. Unlike the January polls in which Santorum barely registered, this poll showed a...

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Is Santorum Missing the Boat in Arizona?

(3) Comments | Posted February 17, 2012 | 1:23 PM

With simultaneous victories in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado, Rick Santorum's campaign has created serious doubt about the inevitability of Mitt Romney's nomination.

This trifecta gave his candidacy instant credibility. As a result, his poll numbers shot up overnight. Nationally, he went from almost 20 points behind Romney prior to...

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Memo to Members of the Budget Super Committee: You Have a Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity

(8) Comments | Posted September 15, 2011 | 10:57 AM

The recently appointed congressional Super Committee has a unique opportunity to accomplish something that normal legislative processes would almost certainly preclude. Legislation normally goes through a labyrinth process weaving through obscure committees where it can be amended almost invisibly at the request of lobbyists acting largely out of public view....

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Joplin ... and the Role of Government in Our Lives

(3) Comments | Posted June 9, 2011 | 10:33 AM

A few days ago, I watched the Joplin Memorial Ceremony attended by President Obama, the governor of Missouri and a host of others. Something has stuck in my craw since viewing that ceremony. Someone -- I believe it was Governor Nixon -- made an impassioned reference to "Good Samaritans," and...

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Tax Day Observations: An Immodest Proposal

(6) Comments | Posted April 18, 2011 | 1:03 PM

Tax Day. Unless you are an anarchist, you recognize that taxes are a necessary evil. Most discussions about reforming the tax code however, conflate two entirely separate issues:

  1. The amount of taxes we pay, and
  2. What it is that we tax.

For purposes of this essay, I propose...

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Now the Hard Part for Egypt

(1) Comments | Posted February 14, 2011 | 10:20 AM

Many thousands of Egyptians, fed up with 30 years of oppressive rule, successfully called for Mubarak's resignation. Their rhetoric is all about Democracy. If their focus remains only on Mubarak, however, they're unlikely to end up with anything resembling real democracy. It is easy for an oppressed group to see...

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I'd Love a Tax Break!

(0) Comments | Posted December 10, 2010 | 10:51 AM

I'd love a tax break and pay 35 percent instead of 39 percent on that last dollar of income. Why not? I pay a lot in taxes. And besides, I work hard.

Here's why.

The Federal Government takes in (at current rates), about $2.4 trillion. That is a lot....

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Stuff and Nonsense about Taxes

(24) Comments | Posted December 6, 2010 | 1:41 PM

As the in decade of the 1970s was ending a one-time Saturday Night Live comic deadpanned an ongoing routine that he introduced as follows:

Well, the "me" decade is almost over, and good riddance, and far as I'm concerned. The 70's were simply 10 years of people thinking of...
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What's Next: Two Scenarios

(4) Comments | Posted November 3, 2010 | 9:33 AM

OK, the Republicans won big in a "wave" election. What happens next? I have two scenarios

The Optimistic View

Both parties recognize that they have to compromise in some matters of policy. There are two obvious ones from which each side could gain something.

Health Care. ...

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