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Public Opinion

Beware of Those Climate Polls

William S. Becker | Posted 03.05.2015 | Green
William S. Becker

Insofar as the prospective candidates for President of the United States pay attention to public opinion research, they should be careful about interpreting the polls on global climate change. They might get the mistaken impression that voters don't care.

The Public, Race, and a Jury of Your Peers

Kathleen Weldon | Posted 03.03.2015 | Politics
Kathleen Weldon

Last year's jury decisions in racially-charged investigations were only the most recent to reveal the schism in the country's perceptions of how race intersects with justice. From the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research archives, here is a look back over more than twenty years of data on race and the jury system.

No Backlash Against Torture

Peter J. Woolley | Posted 03.03.2015 | Politics
Peter J. Woolley

Just before the U.S. Senate released its report at the end of 2014 on the CIA's use of "harsh interrogation" tactics against prisoners, the question was whether or not the report would provoke a public backlash against torture. The answer is no.

In the Balance: The Public and the Federal Budget Deficit

Kathleen Weldon | Posted 01.28.2015 | Politics
Kathleen Weldon

Some economists on the left argue that the deficit is not a serious threat to the health of the economy, while other experts say that projected increases show that long-term solutions need to be found. What does the public think about this debate?

Public Understanding of the Holocaust, From WWII to Today

Kathleen Weldon | Posted 01.22.2015 | Politics
Kathleen Weldon

Despite the enormity of the Holocaust, and the many books, movies, museums and memorials aimed at ensuring remembrance, Americans in more recent years have shown surprising ignorance of what happened under the Nazis.

Anti-Semitism -- The Facts and the Hope

John Gerzema | Posted 01.15.2015 | Religion
John Gerzema

Our research team, which usually focuses on consumer-related issues, conducted an international survey of attitudes towards Israel and the Jewish people. This work was done in mid-August in Paris and Lyon, Toronto, New York, San Francisco, London, and Madrid.

Polls of Future Past: A History of Public Expectations for the Future of Science

Kathleen Weldon | Posted 01.13.2015 | Science
Kathleen Weldon

Science fiction sometimes barely beats out science fact as technological advancements rapidly transform the world. But the changes that are anticipated aren't always the ones that arrive. Here's a look back at what the polls tell us the public has expected from scientific progress -- and how often they've been disappointed.

Ambivalent Attitudes: The Public and Opinion Polls

Kathleen Weldon | Posted 02.21.2015 | Politics
Kathleen Weldon

Pundits have few kind words for politicians who consult public opinion polls when formulating policy. On the other hand, pollsters themselves consider polls no less than the voice of the people. But where does the public stand? A review of polls about polling, from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research archive:

Pay It Back: The Public and the Student Loan System

Kathleen Weldon | Posted 01.24.2015 | College
Kathleen Weldon

Despite the sticker shock, the public has consistently believed that college is worth the money -- though questions that mention actual dollar amounts tend to leave respondents somewhat more skeptical.

Mandate: Nearly 60 Percent of Voters Worry About Climate Change

Keith Gaby | Posted 01.14.2015 | Green
Keith Gaby

The important lesson from all of this is that leaders in Washington shouldn't start believing their own press releases. Go ahead and claim voters endorsed everything you stand for, but don't start acting like it's true. The American people did not suddenly decide they don't care about clean air, clean water, and a healthy climate.

The American Public and Attitudes Toward Veterans

Paul Herrnson | Posted 01.07.2015 | Politics
Paul Herrnson

Though the country has long been united in the belief that former soldiers deserve respect and honor, the question of what exactly the government owes its veterans -- and whether it is fulfilling those obligations -- has been more controversial.

Good but Not Good Enough: Moving Public Will on Early Childhood Education

Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. | Posted 01.06.2015 | Education
Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.

The Obama White House has proposed that high-quality pre-school be extended to every child in America and has been convening meetings around the country with a broad group of stakeholders dedicated to his early learning agenda.

Things We Agree On... Or Should!

Dr. Sten Odenwald | Posted 12.29.2014 | Politics
Dr. Sten Odenwald

Although many survey questions you hear about show close to a 50/50 split in public opinion, there are still many questions that offer nearly unanimous agreement and probably help to define who we are as a Nation in terms of core values and beliefs.

Money, Politics and the American Public

Paul Herrnson | Posted 12.14.2014 | Politics
Paul Herrnson

The influence of money in politics in general and campaigns in particular is a staple of op-ed writers, late-night comedians and armchair pundits. As another Federal Election Commission reporting deadline looms, how bad does the public really think the problem is -- and what are they willing to do about it?

'Meh' Economy Muddies Mid-Term Election Picture

Bill Schneider | Posted 12.03.2014 | Politics
Bill Schneider

"The country is definitely better off than we were when I came into office," the president said. Notice that he said "the country" is better off. He didn't say, "You're better off."

Will There Be a Backlash Against Torture?

Peter J. Woolley | Posted 12.02.2014 | Politics
Peter J. Woolley

The Senate intelligence committee hopes to release soon a redacted summary of its 6,300-page report on the CIA's interrogational torture program. As we wait, the committee is wrangling with the CIA over redactions that the CIA is demanding.

Ariel Edwards-Levy

Few Americans Feel Personally Affected By Conflict With ISIS | Ariel Edwards-Levy | Posted 09.29.2014 | Politics

Americans, who largely support airstrikes against the Islamic State, don't think that the military campaign will have much of an impact on their lives...

Don't Judge Me, I'm A Mom

Shaney Vijendranath | Posted 11.23.2014 | Parents
Shaney Vijendranath

There is no such thing as the perfect mother. We all make mistakes and learn from them. Most moms do not have supermodel figures after having two kids.

The Public and Proposed Constitutional Amendments: We Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change

Paul Herrnson | Posted 11.15.2014 | Politics
Paul Herrnson

Despite the public's overall belief in the Constitution as an enduring document, the data indicate that Americans are quite willing to use the amendment process to make policy changes.

Will the 2016 Presidential Race Be the "We Told You So" Election?

Bill Schneider | Posted 11.09.2014 | Politics
Bill Schneider

It would be the "We told you so" election: Mitt Romney versus Hillary Clinton in 2016. The campaign would look like an effort to roll back the calendar and say, "Let's get it right this time."

Obama's Cautiousness to Engage in Global Hotspots Emboldening Aggressors

Bill Schneider | Posted 11.02.2014 | Politics
Bill Schneider

For decades, the United States has been the world's pre-eminent status quo power. The U.S. fought wars to reverse acts of aggression and restore the status quo in Kosovo and Kuwait. Now new aggressors believe they can threaten the status quo with impunity because the U.S. seems unwilling to stand up to them.

Looking Back At America's Changing Opinions On Unions

Kathleen Weldon | Posted 10.29.2014 | Politics
Kathleen Weldon

On May 14, 1882, unionized workers in New York City held a parade and picnic, and the seeds of the Labor Day holiday were planted. About 50 years late...

Ferguson Shaping Up to Be a Consciousness-Changing Moment for Whites

Bill Schneider | Posted 10.28.2014 | Politics
Bill Schneider

The shock is not only that a police officer killed an unarmed black teenager. That, tragically, has happened too many times before, and when the details remain murky, many people withhold judgment. The shock was that the police response to the protests was so hugely disproportionate, "like an invading army."

What Do You Think, America?

Terry Newell | Posted 10.22.2014 | Politics
Terry Newell

In many cases -- more than we care to admit -- the world is gray before it comes into focus. By insisting it has to be black or white (or red or blue), we harden our thinking and our hearts when we would be better served by pausing to learn more.

Low Carbon Cities in China, Serious Challenges and Signs of Hope

André Corrêa d'Almeida | Posted 10.08.2014 | World
André Corrêa d'Almeida

Despite the worst fears of impending environmental tragedy that arise from a reading of air quality data or the trajectory of coal use, China is walking a path that many cities and nations have walked before.