01/22/2014 04:58 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

HUFFPOLLSTER: Americans Start 2014 On A Pessimistic Note

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Americans are as down on their leaders in early 2014 as they were in late 2013. They want abortion decisions to remain with women and doctors despite favoring some restrictions. And the Happiest Place on Earth is tracking your every move. This is HuffPollster for Wednesday, January 22, 2014.

2014 OFF TO A PESSIMISTIC START - Battleground Poll: "The American public remains divided on a host of issues with a pessimistic attitude towards leaders’ ability to address the nation’s problems, according to a new George Washington University Battleground Poll. More than 55 percent of respondents strongly believe that the nation is on the wrong track, and 54 percent believe that leaders in Washington are just as incapable of working together to solve the nation’s problems as they were last year. Among likely voters, 54 percent say that it’s time to give a new lawmaker a chance in the Capitol; 29 percent believe their member of Congress deserves reelection. '2013 certainly took a toll on the public's view of Washington,' said George Washington University Professor Chris Arterton. 'Performance ratings are down across the board and a general sense of discouragement has set in. The public is clearly focused on jobs and the economy and doesn't feel that the politicians are addressing their issues.'" [GWU]

VOTERS GIVE OBAMA LOW GRADES ON THEIR TOP PRIORITIES - Quinnipiac: "In an open-ended question, allowing for any answer, American voters list the economy/jobs and healthcare as their top priorities, two issues for which President Barack Obama gets low job approval ratings, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Naming "the top priority for President Obama and Congress in 2014," 15 percent of voters say the economy, while 16 percent list jobs or unemployment, a total of 31 percent, while 18 percent list healthcare, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds….American voters give President Obama a negative 40 - 54 percent approval rating, compared to 41 - 53 percent January 8, and 38 - 57 percent December 10, indications that his plunge has leveled off. But voters give Obama his lowest grades for their top priorities." [Quinnipiac]

AMERICANS SAY WOMEN AND THEIR DOCTORS SHOULD MAKE DECISIONS ON ABORTION - Laura Bassett and Emily Swanson: "Forty-one years after the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, two-thirds of the American population believe that decisions on abortion should be made between a woman, her family and her doctor, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted last week….The American public has long been evenly split on abortion from an ideological perspective. The new poll finds that 48 percent think abortion should be generally or always legal, while 47 percent think it should be generally or always illegal. But even among those who think abortion should be generally illegal, more think it should be legal in some circumstances (33 percent) than think it should be banned entirely (14 percent). And the new poll suggests that a strong majority of Americans think those exceptions should not be defined by politicians, but by women themselves. Sixty-four percent said 'decisions about abortion should be made by a woman and her doctor,' while 24 percent said that 'government has a right and obligation to pass restrictions on abortion.' Only 35 percent said they would be in favor of Congress passing new restrictions on abortion." [HuffPost]

Majority opposes overturning Roe, 38 percent can't guess what it was about - Pew Research: "More than six-in-ten (63%) say they would not like to see the court completely overturn the Roe v. Wade decision, which established a woman’s constitutional right to abortion at least in the first three months of pregnancy. Only about three-in-ten (29%) would like to see the ruling overturned. These opinions are little changed from surveys conducted 10 and 20 years ago...About six-in-ten Americans (62%) know that Roe v. Wade dealt with the issue of abortion. Much smaller percentages incorrectly associate the decision with school desegregation (7%), the death penalty (5%) or environmental protection (5%); 20% do not know." [Pew Research via @conradhackett]


'Abortion attitudes are a chameleon' - Scott Clement: "Consistent majorities of Americans support a variety of restrictions on access, but the public whips in the opposite direction in several key cases: potential birth defect, rape and when the pregnancy endangers the woman’s health. In 2012, the respected General Social Survey found at least seven in 10 Americans said a women should be able to obtain an abortion if there is a strong chance of a birth defect (70 percent), if the pregnancy was caused by rape (72 percent), or if the women’s health is in serious danger. (83 percent)." [WaPost]

NYHAN: COVER POLLS LIKE GRANTLAND - Brendan Nyhan includes a suggestion for poll coverage in a column urging web journalism follow the example of ESPN's Grantland: "[I]t’s worth thinking about how political coverage can go beyond chartblogging to present other forms of visual information that help readers understand patterns or trends. How might this be done? Consider polling coverage. Write-ups of public opinion data sometimes include quotes from follow-up interviews with respondents as well as graphical analyses in sidebars. For instance, this New York Times story on disapproval for healthcare reform among uninsured people quotes a handful of respondents reached after participating in the poll and includes two sophisticated graphics online. Why not embed short audio or video clips from illustrative voter interviews, along with poll charts, within the write-ups? While those individual clips would not be representative of the national population, journalists who use care in selecting appropriate examples could effectively help to illustrate larger trends in the data." [CJR]

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WEDNESDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data that we missed during our holiday break (starting with a few new items from today:

-Americans doubt the changes proposed by President Obama will do enough to limit NSA data collection. [YouGov]

-65 percent of Americans, a new high, are dissatisfied with "our system of government and how well it works." [Gallup]

-62 percent of Americans want pro sports to continue to pan marijuana use by players. [Marist]

-Democrat Martha Coakley begins with 39-29 lead over Republican front-runner Charlie Baker in the race for Massachusetts governor. [WBUR]

-PPP (D) shows Rick Scott gaining and a close race for Florida Governor. [PPP]

-Sean Trende predicts Obama's low approval rating spells trouble for Democratic Senate prospects in 2014. [Real Clear Politics]

-David Hill (R) explains why Chris Christie won't be hurt by Bridegate. [The Hill]

-Mark Mellman (D) bids farewell to the "investor class" theory of politics. [The Hill]

-Wilson Perkins Allen (R) notes that the population is growing faster in "small government" states. [WPA]

-PPP (D) finds Charlie Crist edging out Rick Scott. [PPP]

-New Jersey Democrats -- but not Republicans or independents -- are turning against Chris Christie. [Rutgers]

-How an intern created the dialect map interactive, the New York Times' most popular piece of content in 2013. [Knight Lab]

-Mail Chimp's chief data scientist geeks out over Disney's use of "magic bands" to track visitors in theme parks. [Gigaom]