Polls Archives

Who Flunked Economics 101?

It turns out that how well you know your basic economics principles correlates pretty closely with your spot on the political spectrum.

Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country—liberals, conservatives or libertarians? According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101.

Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents’ (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics. We also asked the respondents about their political leanings: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian.

They describe the specific questions as well as their methodology, which breaks things down by incorrect answers, and where "not sure" doesn’t count against you.  I can see one of the questions that I might disagree with what they considered the correct answer, but you had to be positively wrong (so to speak), not just unsure, to get marked off.  The results?

How did the six ideological groups do overall? Here they are, best to worst, with an average number of incorrect responses from 0 to 8: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26.

Ronald Reagan said, "The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so."  This shows how remarkably true that is. 

Spring Break Catch-up

I was on Spring Break vacation with the family last week, so other than my post-dated blog posts, I didn’t write much … well, anything.  But I did surf the web and kept track of some articles I wanted to highlight when I came back.  Here they are, in mostly chronological order of when I found them.

Amnesty International decided that jihad was not antithetical to human rights so long as it’s "defensive". 

The bump in polling numbers after passing health care "reform" was supposed to go to Democrats.  Instead, while it’s just a measure of emotion at this point in time, you’d think that all the promises of the bill would give Democrats a few higher point.  Instead, they’re at an 18-year low.  It’s quite possible that people are only now understanding what they supported all along, because the "free" stuff isn’t materializing right now.

What was the point of the resurrection on Easter?  Don Sensing has (had) some thoughts.

The Tea Party’s ideas are much more mainstream than the MSM would like you to believe.  And Tea Partiers are much more diverse that the MSM realized.  Turns out, they did some actual journalism and found out the real story.  Imagine that.  Has the liberal slant of the press become a problem of corruption, especially with, first, the willful ignoring of the Tea Party story, and second, the willful misreporting of it?

Toyota cars have killed 52 people, and got a recall for it.  Gardasil, a cervical cancer vaccine, has had 49 "unexplained deaths" reported by the CDC and it’s still required in some states.

Changing the names to protect the guilty, the words "Islam" and "jihad" are now banned from the national security strategy document.  When the next terror attack Islamic jihadists happens, it’ll be interesting to find out how they describe it.

Cows have been exonerated of helping to cause global warming.  No, really.

Rep. Bart Stupak’s reversal of his principles is having the proper effect; he’s decided not to seek re-election.  Likely, he couldn’t get re-elected anyway, after betraying his constituents, but let this be a lesson about trusting "conservative" Democrats too much.

And finally, media scrutiny of church vs. state (click for a larger picture):

Media scrutiny

Oh, that liberal media.

Low Approval Ratings: Then and Now

When Democrats in Congress refused to vote for Republican bills during the Bush administration, they’d often cite the President’s poor approval rating numbers as demonstrating that the country didn’t want what Republicans were selling.  Never mind that their own approval ratings were often lower, that reason was used as a bludgeon over and over.

While Obama’s number have been tanking faster than any President in half a century, he’s not at Dubya-depths yet.  (Though, stay tuned.) Congress, however, can only pine for those heady days of 20-something approval.

Voter unhappiness with Congress has reached the highest level ever recorded by Rasmussen Reports as 71% now say the legislature is doing a poor job.

That’s up ten points from the previous high of 61% reached a month ago.

Only 10% of voters say Congress is doing a good or excellent job.

I don’t think legislation passage should necessarily be tied to approval ratings, but if you live by the polls, you’ll die by the polls. Will this Democratic Congress judge itself by the same standard it holds others to?

(Hint: No.)

Trending Pro-Life

A Knights of Columbus / Marist poll shows that the trend in the abortion debate is moving towards the pro-life side.  And not just from a political standpoint, but from a moral one as well.

On the eve of the 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion throughout the United States, a new survey shows a strong majority of Americans believe abortion to be "morally wrong."

"Millennials" (those 18-29) consider abortion to be "morally wrong" even more (58%) than Baby Boomers (those 45-64) (51%). Generation X (those 30-44) are similar to Millennials (60% see abortion as "morally wrong"). More than 6 in 10 of the Greatest Generation (those 65+) feel the same.

The most recent Knights of Columbus – Marist survey – conducted in late December and early January – is the latest in a series of such surveys commissioned by the Knights of Columbus and conducted by Marist Institute for Public Opinion. In October of 2008 and July of 2009, the survey has been tracking an increasing trend toward the pro-life position – a trend confirmed by Gallup and Pew surveys in mid-2009. K of C – Marist surveys are available online at www.kofc.org/moralcompass.

"Americans of all ages – and younger people in even greater numbers than their parents – see abortion as something morally wrong," said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. "America has turned a corner and is embracing life – and in doing so is embracing a future they – and all of us – can be proud of."

I count myself as a Baby Boomer, in age if not general philosophy.  The "free love" ideas that this group fostered has put it out of the mainstream with generations before and after them.  I think this is a proper shunning of that mindset, and a great trend to see.

Polls are still, indeed, a temperature of temperament, but if this stays on course, as it appears to be doing, this could translate into more action to protect the least of "the least of these".

The Scott Brown Post-Game Analysis

Unless you’ve been living in a closet for 2 week, or are a die-hard Obama supporter trying to avoid the news, Scott Brown, the Republican, won the special election to fill the Senate seat of the late Ted Kennedy.

Yes, that Ted Kennedy.

Was this simply a local election, judged solely on local issues?  I don’t think so, especially since Brown himself injected national issues into it when he said he would vote against health care "reform".  Yes, local issues played a part, but I think the national ones overshadowed them. 

This is Massachusetts, after all, one of the bluest of blue states, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3.5 to 1, and where they were replacing a Democrat who’d held that seat for a generation. 

Polls a month ago put Coakley ahead by 20 points.  Brown then made it national, and all of a sudden the momentum shifted in a big way.  The payoffs, most notably to Senator Ben Nelson, didn’t help matters.

There are those that say conservatives shouldn’t get credit for Coakley’s defeat, and explain why the loss was mostly, if not wholly, due to disappointment by Democrats in Obama; what he promised vs. what he’s delivered.  The problem with that analysis is that not much on that front has changed in 3-4 weeks, when Coakley’s numbers tanked.  The issues noted in that blog post — military commissions, international surveillance, drug laws, sentencing reform, Gitmo’s closing, the Afghanistan war, anti-terror policies — have not substantially changed one bit since mid-December.  So you can’t really say that those are the issues that moved the voters.  A sea changed occurred, and there’s one thing, one major issue, that did change during that time; the health care "reform" bill. 

According to Rasmussen, 56% of voters thought that this was the most important issue.  Brown brought up the issue of voting against it, and once he did, voters flocked to his side.  Now true, some did so because they don’t like it at all, and some did so because they thought it didn’t go far enough.  Rasmussen notes:

Forty-seven percent (47%) favor the health care legislation before Congress while 51% oppose it. However, the intensity was clearly with those who are opposed. Just 25% of voters in Massachusetts Strongly Favor the plan while 41% Strongly Oppose it.

Fifty percent (50%) say it would be better to pass no health care legislation at all rather than passing the bill before Congress.

But the point here is this is Massachusetts, after all, where Democrats far outnumber Republicans and where Ted Kennedy was in a safe Senate seat for a generation.  And they’ve elected a man who says he’ll vote against the health care "reform" bill.  Conservatives, mostly of the Tea Party variety, have been getting the word out on how awful this bill will be, and while the opinion polls have gone against it, now, more importantly, the voters have as well, pulling off what’s been called an epic upset

Will Democrats in Washington get the message?  We’ll see.

Living and Dying by the Polls

That was then:

As President Barack Obama heads to Indiana and Florida over the next two days to sell his economic stimulus plan to a somewhat skeptical Congress, White House and congressional Democrats are moving around new poll data that suggests the public is broadly supportive of the bill.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs sent out an email to reporters this morning touting the data — from a Gallup survey — that showed roughly two-thirds of the public approves of the way Obama is handling the passage of the economic stimulus package while just 31 percent say the same of congressional Republicans.

Emphasis supplied by the NewBusters article, because this is now:

"If I was a heart patient and Gallup was my EKG I’d visit my doctor," Gibbs said. "If you look back I think five days ago we were, there was an 11 point spread, now there’s a one point spread."

Gibbs continued, "you know, I mean I’m sure a six year old with a crayon could do something not unlike that. I don’t put a lot of stake in, never have, in the EKG that is the daily Gallup trend. I don’t pay a lot of attention to meaninglessness."

The difference?  The polls were with the President then, and they’re not now.  Obama himself touted Gallup when they were with him.  Now, not so much.  If you are going to push an agenda at least partially on poll numbers, you have to take the good with the bad. 

Shire Network News #175: Robin Shepherd

Shire Network News #175 has been released. The feature interview is with British foreign policy specialist and non-insane person (the two tend to be mutually exclusive these days) Robin Shepherd about a new TV documentary in which the UK’s foreign policy is portrayed as completely in thrall to sinister, shadowy "Zionist" businessmen, who manipulate politicians and journalists from the shadows. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary.

Hi, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network News asking you to "Consider This!"

US President Barack Obama has been in office for 10 months now.  While that’s not very long — heck, it’s barely long enough to win a Nobel Peace Prize — I think it’s worth taking stock of where he is on some of his campaign promises and Presidential goals. 

Let’s start with the closing of the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  He said he’d close it in a year, but two months away from that date even he doesn’t think that’s going to happen.  But he did make a big splash when he moved Kalid Sheik Muhammed, the 9/11 mastermind, to the target of his mastermindedness, New York City, to try him in federal court, right alongside guys who commit mail fraud.  Yes, the guy who planned the largest terror attack on the US is going down the same path as Nigerian scammers who send you letters promising you large sums of money.  That seems adequate, no?

How about that lynchpin of his presidency, health care reform?  Well, looks like the tough sell just keeps getting tougher.  With only 38% of Americans favoring the plan proposed by Obama and the Democrats, this is looking like those mothers of yesteryear who gave you castor oil for what ails you.  The worse it is, the better it must be for you. 

Well then, how about the economy?  Sounding very fiscally conservative, he told Fox News (yes, that Fox News), "It is important though to recognize if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recovery, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession."  What he failed to note is that he is the one adding to the debt.  In a scene reminiscent of Mel Brooks’ "Blazing Saddles", he’s holding a gun to his head and threatening to pull the trigger if he doesn’t start behaving.  In Washington these days, it’s not so much that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.  It’s more like the left hand doesn’t even know there is a right hand. 

Then there’s the idea that the world loves us now, all because Obama is the anti-Bush.  A new day would dawn in foreign relations.  Except that it’s not.  In his recent trip to Asia, this self-proclaimed "first Pacific President" not only didn’t get any concessions from China, he participated in a press conference where questions were forbidden.  Way to stand up to those Communists, Obama.  Not even the eeevil Bush ever bowed, er, stooped that low.  Later, he lost the participation of Japan in refueling US warships destined for Afghanistan.  On the upside, he did get some pretty cool pictures of the Great Wall of China.  I’m told that, from up in space, Barack Obama’s ego is visible to the naked eye.

Oh, there was almost a foreign policy win with Iran, to get it to ship its uranium to Russia to keep it from building bombs.  Except that last week, shock of shocks, Iran reneged

Well, never mind what the rest of the world thinks!  They say they love us, but their actions say something else entirely.  Let’s look at the domestic polls to see how his own people love him.  There was such enthusiasm a year ago, when people flocked to elect the first African-American as President of the US.  Well, since then, the bloom has fallen off the rose.  His poll numbers dipped below 50% in November, 10 months after taking office with one of the higher initial ratings in recent history.  Now, pretty much all Presidents get into this territory sooner or later; even Reagan hit it in 10 months.  But that means that Barack Obama, the post-racial, feel-good, history-making, hope and change man of the hour is tied for the 3rd worst drop in ratings in the past half-century.  The eeevil Bush took 37 months to make it there.  Heck, Nixon took 25!  Nixon!

So it appears, then, that The One(tm) has fallen short of wildly exaggerated expectations.  Who’s to blame?  I’d say the guy who set those expectations.  A former Obama supporter has come out with a T-shirt of the iconic Obama poster with the word "Hope" on the bottom, but it’s smeared, as though painted in watercolors and then rained on.  Below the word "Hope" is the phrase "is fading fast". 

Something tells me that Obama is no different than he was just 10 short months and one Nobel Peace Prize ago.  It’s just that people have now actually taken the time to see who he really is.  I kinda’ wish, though, that they’d done this prior to the election.  A new face in the Oval Office doesn’t make enemies lose their self-interest.  Heck, it doesn’t even do that for allies!  It doesn’t magically turn the economy around, nor make budget-busting proposals palatable (especially when you complain about budget-busting as though someone else is doing it).  I’ll tell you one thing it does, though; it gets a populace to finally consider this.

For the first time since the Gallup organization has been polling this issue (1995), more Americans consider themselves pro-life than pro-choice, and the percentage of pro-life designations is the highest ever.


(Click on the picture for the source article.)  Gallup calls this jump a "significant shift".  Increases were found among the individual demographics Republicans, conservatives, moderates, Protestants, Catholics, men and women. 

I brought this thought up in a comment on Mark’s post on torture; it’s fine to be against torture, but what do you consider torture?  John McCain, having endured the Hanoi Hilton, might have one definition.  Abu Zubaydah’s definition is to be in a cell with a stinging insect.  What about tickle torture?

Danny Carlton presents some food for thought on this subject.  I’m open to your comments on this because this really made me stop and think.

Waterboarding does no permanent, physical damage. It makes one think they are drowning, which I would imagine is an incredibly unpleasant feeling. Another unpleasant feeling–the fear that your children will be taken away from you, and you’ll never see them again. This is done daily across the US by overzealous social workers attempting to force "confessions" from parents suspected of abuse or neglect. Given the choice I think I’d prefer waterboarding.

The logic behind the Fifth Amendment is that when faced with fear, a person may very well lie about their guilt or innocence choosing imprisonment over torture or death. The result is not the truth or justice. But when the goal isn’t a guilty verdict but information needed to save lives the equation changes.

The question then becomes, is it fair or just to put a person through a mentally unpleasant event in order to extract information which can save lives? Ironically those who scream loudest against waterboarding would be those most adamantly in favor of allowing social workers unfettered power in using just as merciless and cruel techniques against parents suspected of abuse or neglect, most often based solely on an anonymous tip.

Whether we as a "civilized society" can tolerate torture has been answered by how we allow social workers and police to use mental torture on those suspected of a crime. Since waterboarding results in no actual physical harm to the person the difference then is whether we will tolerate what we allow on US citizens barely suspected of a crime to be used on known terrorists who have information that could save lives. 

Why is this even a debate?

Is torture wrong?  Seems pretty clear cut that Americans believe it is, which is good to hear.  But those on the Left berating the Bush administration then go beyond the poll results and say that Americans are against waterboarding specifically.  No, they said they were against torture, and again, it all depends on what you mean by that. 

Are you against putting a caterpillar into Zubaydah’s cell and telling him it’s a wasp?  Or are you against hanging someone by meat hooks for 3 days?  Is there a difference in those techniques?  I think there is.  Are they both torture?  Depends on your definition, I suppose.

What’s your definition, and what is it based on?

They Hope the President Fails

By "they" I meant American Democrats.  Not the establishment; the rank and file.  And by "President", I meant George W. Bush.

In a poll (PDF file) conducted in August of 2006, one of the questions was this:

10.  Regardless of how you voted in the presidential election, would you say you want President Bush to succeed or not?

  Yes No Don’t know
8-9 Aug 06 63% 32 5
Democrats 40% 51 9
Republicans 90% 7 2
Independents 63% 34 3

Hat tip: Patterico, who notes that we were in the thick of a war whose outcome was uncertain.  When Democrats try to take the moral or patriotic high ground regarding what one man, Rush Limbaugh, said, just remind them what a majority of all of them said just 2 1/2 years ago.

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