How do different Americans understand what happened in the world on a given day? HuffPost teamed up with YouGov to find out. We asked 1,000 people to describe their news consumption — and their understanding of what happened in the news — last Monday.
What exactly that was depends on whom you ask. Maybe former Trump advisers were indicted for “money laundering,” as one person reported. The charges were actually for “collusion with Russia,” another believed. Perhaps the episode was “another smoke screen to shield Hillary Clinton,” or — as a fourth respondent put it — just “a lot of he said, she said crap.” (You can read HuffPost’s coverage of the story here.)
Other topics sparked similar divides. Kevin Spacey either was “accused of sexual harassment” or “says he is gay.” There were shootings, storms, a World Series game and “some sort of cheeseburger crisis.” It was “a very uninteresting news day,” one person said.
Americans disagreed about how to interpret the news. But on one day last week, at least, they largely agreed on what was most important. More than 80 percent of people who named at least one news story mentioned something about the indictments against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, the ongoing investigation led by Robert Mueller, or Russian influence in last year’s election. About 12 percent mentioned allegations against Kevin Spacey or another story about sexual harassment, while about 10 percent mentioned local news stories, running the gamut from bad weather to cattle theft. Around 7 percent named the World Series, the NFL protests or another sports story, and about 5 percent mentioned stories relating to Puerto Rico.
More telling than those statistics are respondents’ own words. You can read a sampling of the responses from across the political spectrum below.
(A few notes: People who sign up for online survey panels and participate in polls about politics tend to be more civically engaged than the average citizen, although YouGov’s weighting process seems to make its results less susceptible to that effect. All the data on news consumption below is self-reported. Some responses have been lightly edited to fix typos, or for clarity.)
63 percent say news and current events matter a lot to their daily life
29 percent say they paid a lot of attention to the news Monday
28 percent followed news about the indictments very closely
18 percent of those who followed the news at all Monday have a fair amount or a great deal of trust in the media
Top news source: Fox News
“Three people were indicted for crimes against the USA. Many people up East have no power due to the storm. More saber rattling from North Korea. Corn prices are down due to large harvest. Price of oil is up and Dow is down slightly.” ― 70-year-old man, got news from local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates, ABC World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News, Fox News, Fox Business, local newspaper, Facebook, Twitter
″I saw World Series Houston Astros won Game 5. I also heard about a NFL trade between Seattle Seahawks & Houston Texans.” ― 50-year old woman, got news from local CBS affiliate, ESPN, NFL Network
“In spite of being in the middle of a terrible storm where we lost power, I was tuned to Fox News all day. There was an indictment handed down for Paul Manafort, who turned himself in. An associate, Gates also was involved. I suspect this is another smoke screen to shield Hillary Clinton. An investigation was launched into the death of a soldier, supposedly killed by 2 Navy SEALS.” ― 82-year-old woman, got news from local CBS affiliate news, Fox News, local newspaper, Facebook
“Collusion from OFA, DNC, and HRC campaign with Fusion GPS fake dossier.” ― 58-year-old man, got news from Excellence in Broadcasting Network, XM Patriot, Drudge, Breitbart, Daily Caller, Facebook
“John Podesta stepped down, and the special prosecutor may have switched focus to the DNC.” ― 31-year-old man, got news from TheRightStuff.biz, Google News
“Arrested some people to do with Russia and the election. Another actor says he is gay after going after a 14-year-old male 30 years ago. Crazy, huh?” ― 65-year-old woman, got news from Yahoo News
73 percent say news and current events matter a lot to their daily life
45 percent say they paid a lot of attention to the news Monday
44 percent followed news about the indictments very closely
83 percent of those who followed the news at all Monday have a fair amount or a great deal of trust in the media
Top news source: MSNBC
“Three people in Trump’s campaign are indicted, two say not guilty, one takes a plea bargain. The company that got the contract for electric grid repair for Puerto Rico is dismissed. Kid (Bowe Bergdahl) who defected spoke at trial, as did some of those who were injured by his actions. A church in Kansas City, Missouri, was robbed and defaced with a KKK message. Tom Harkin was honored at the Dole Center. Senator McCaskill of Missouri husband in the hospital with heart problems. Storm on East Coast is causing power outages and damage from high winds.” ― 80-year-old woman, got news from NPR, USA Today, Washington Post, New York Times, Time, Wall Street Journal, local newspaper
“Former Trump cabinet members are being tried for collusion with Russia, Trump took to Twitter as he always does to deny any connection with it and immediately tried to deflect attention back to Hillary of all people, like that horse hasn’t been beaten to death and put out to pasture over a year ago. Someone please take Twitter away from that man.” ― 33-year-old-woman, got news from Facebook, Tumblr
“Paul Manafort and his associate, Rick Gates were arrested. George Papadopoulos was also arrested. Trump handed out candy for trick or treat. Something he was surprisingly capable of doing without injuring or psychically harming any children. Tony Podesta resigned. A federal judge blocked Trump’s interference with transgender people serving in the U.S. armed services. The sexual harassment news continues.” ― 70-year-old woman, got news from local ABC affiliate, ABC World News Tonight, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, HuffPost, Axios, Reader Supported News, Google News, local newspaper
“The tension that exists with North Korea, the horror of a nuclear war. Trump suspended the immigration relief program for young dreamers, known as DACA.” ― 49-year-old woman, got news from local Univision affiliate
“Well, it was revealed that on July 27th Papadopoulos was arrested for lying to the FBI, pled guilty on October 5th. Manafort and his buddy Gates turned themselves in for the arrest warrants for the charges including money laundering, misleading investigators on his contacts with the Russians, not registering as a foreign agent. Podesta stepped down as the head of a lobbying group. And Trump had a super double secret lunch with Pence and Sessions, no media invited, on how they’re going to fire Mueller without Congress immediately starting impeachment hearings for obstruction of justice.” ― 60-year-old woman, got news from local NBC affiliate, MSNBC, NPR, Fark, New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, local newspaper, Twitter
“Two people were indicted, can’t recall names, but one had ties to Trump’s early campaign though the events happened prior to the campaign.” ― 26-year-old man, got news from Google News
NON-VOTERS AND THIRD-PARTY VOTERS
38 percent say news and current events matter a lot to their daily life
12 percent say they paid a lot of attention to the news Monday
17 percent followed news about the indictments very closely
54 percent of those who followed the news at all Monday have a fair amount or a great deal of trust in the media
Top news source: Facebook
“Kevin Spacey accused of sexual harassment, Netflix responded by cancelling House of Cards. Two women who were lost at sea and picked up by military ship were dropped at US base in Japan. Someone who worked on Trump campaign and another associate arrested by FBI.” ― 25-year-old woman, got news from local CBS affiliate, CBS This Morning, BuzzFeed, Facebook, Twitter
“It is mostly political posturing. A lot of he said, she said crap. On the good side, I heard that the Astros won the fifth game in the World Series.” ― 57-year-old woman, got news from NBC
“There were two shootings in my town, one only two blocks from me.” ― 47-year-old woman, got news from local CBS affiliate
″Paul Manafort and another associate were indicted by the FBI for not paying income tax on their PR work that was done on behalf of Yanukovych’s former government in Ukraine. Papadopoulos was also indicted for lying about meeting with a Russian official. However, all of this predates any of their work with the Trump campaign and still does not prove collusion. Tony Podesta, another name mentioned in conjunction with Fusion group, also resigned from the lobbying firm The Podesta Group.” ― 33-year-old man, got news from NBC Nightly News, Drudge Report, Google News, Facebook
“Judicial branch denied Trump’s transgender ban, and some sort of cheeseburger crisis.” ― 29-year-old woman, got news from Facebook
“Manafort met with the Russians to help Trump cheat in the elections, Google, Facebook and Twitter are going before Congress to talk about how Russia’s election meddling was bigger than discussed, a judge blocked Trump’s transgender military ban, Spain is crushing the Catalan revolution, FBI is still looking into Puerto Rico electric contract.” ― 34-year-old woman, got news from NPR, BBC, Google, Washington Post, Reuters, New York Times
“Trump’s former campaign adviser pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and the White House distanced itself from it, the transgender ban was blocked, Bernie Sanders and Mayor De Blasio rode the subway together.” ― 29-year-old man, got news from CNN, New York Post
“Nothing really happened, other than lots of people making accusations about other people, blah, blah, blah. It was a very uninteresting news day. I’m sorry I can’t do better.” ― 58-year-old man, got news from Google News
“A cow thief in the Midwest was caught red handed.” ― 37-year-old woman, got news from ABC World News Tonight, ABC News Local Radio, Facebook
53 percent of Americans say news and current events matter a lot to their daily lives, while another third say the news doesn’t have much to do with them. The rest aren’t sure.
A quarter of Americans say they paid a lot of attention to the news last Monday, with 35 percent paying just some attention, 23 percent paying not very much attention, and 17 percent paying no attention at all.
Of those who paid any attention to the news on Monday, 32 percent spent an hour or more reading, watching, or listening. About 27 percent spent between 30 minutes and an hour, 18 percent spent between 15 minutes and a half-hour, and 19 percent spent less than 15 minutes.
Just 19 percent of those who paid any attention to the news have a great deal of trust in the media to state the facts fully, accurately and fairly. One-third have a fair amount of trust, 29 percent don’t have much trust in the media, and 13 percent have none at all.
Those who followed the news on Monday were most likely to say they’d gotten their news from local TV (38 percent) or an online news source (38 percent), followed by national cable TV (33 percent), social media (26 percent), national network news (24 percent) and radio (22 percent). The least-popular sources were conversations with a friend, family member or co-worker (19 percent), and print newspapers and magazines (14 percent).
Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Oct. 30 and Oct. 31 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.
Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.