Demographics

Congress’ Harshest Critics Identify Their Complaints

A new Gallup poll identifies the factors that the 53% of Americans that rate Congress’s job performance poor or bad point to when complaining about the institution.

The majority say that Congress is distracted from helping its constituents and instead pays “too much attention to financial contributors” (56%) or “too much attention to special interests and lobbyists” (55%).

Anti-establishment sentiments are clear as well: 43% believe Congress “spends too much time campaigning and raising money,” while 32% believe congressmen “pay too much attention to party leaders.”

 

There Are More White Voters Than People Think. That’s Good News for Trump.

New York Times: “New analysis by The Upshot shows that millions more white, older working-class voters went to the polls in 2012 than was found by exit polls on Election Day. This raises the prospect that Mr. Trump has a larger pool of potential voters than generally believed.”

“The data implies that Mr. Obama was not as weak among white voters as typically believed. He fared better than his predecessors among white voters outside the South… He would have won even if he had done as poorly among Latino voters as John Kerry.”

“This is all good news for Mr. Trump. There’s more room for him to make gains among white working-class voters than many assumed — enough to win without making gains among nonwhite or college-educated white voters.”

Public Opinion and Politics Out of Step With Realities of ACA 

The Hill’s Lawrence R. Jacobs: “It’s policymaking 101: When a policy delivers benefits to people, support for the policy grows. Political scientists call situations like these “policy feedback loops,” and they are a big part of the story of how Social Security and Medicare became so entrenched in American life. But what happens if hyper-partisanship stops the loop? Consider the Affordable Care Act (ACA).”

“The numbers are stark. Monthly tracking polls show that 49 percent hold unfavorable views of the ACA versus just 38 percent holding favorable views. These assessments fly in the face of the ACA’s accomplishments.”

“Why have overall assessments of the ACA remained so divided and largely negative? The culprit, we found, is the political environment. Prevailing attitudes of distrust in government, strong partisanship and ingrained attitudes — not features of the law itself — are perpetuating the public’s negative opinion.”

Americans’ Satisfaction With U.S. Direction Remains Low

A new Gallup poll shows that only 29% of Americans are satisfied with the country’s direction.

“Americans’ satisfaction has averaged 24% across the 89 months of the Obama administration to date, well below the average 37% satisfaction level since Gallup began measuring it in 1979.”

The low number continues a downward trend since 2007.

As would be expected, party association has played a defining role in polling since 2007.

Economy Remains Top Priority for Next President

A Gallup poll released today shows that the economy is the priority for American voters in the 2016 election season.

When asked what “single issue or challenge” they are “most interested in seeing the President address when he or she takes office,” 19% of Americans said the economy. 14% said immigration, 10% said healthcare, and 9% said national defense.

Only 2% said uniting Americans should be the priority for the next President.

“America First” and Increased Defense Spending Popularity Signal Public Opinion Shift

Pew Research Center released a report on May 5 investigating the American public’s view on the U.S.’s role in the world.

Among the findings were a sharp uptick in support for increased defense spending.

“Most of the increase has come among Republicans. Fully 61% of Republicans favor higher defense spending, up 24 percentage points from 2013. Support for more defense spending has increased much more modestly among other partisan groups. And the gap in support for higher military spending between Republicans and Democrats, which was 25 percentage points three years ago, now stands at 41 points.”

“Still, 57% of Americans want the U.S. to deal with its own problems, while letting other countries get along as best they can. Just 37% say the U.S. should help other countries deal with their problems. And more Americans say the U.S. does too much (41%), rather than too little (27%), to solve world problems, with 28% saying it is doing about the right amount.”

The logical contradiction of growing public support for increased defense spending and a growing desire for subdued international activity may be explained by threat recognition: Americans are far more likely to see non-state actors as a threat than Eastern rivals.