My Turn: What polls say about priorities of Americans

  • Posted: Monday, December 17, 2012 12:01 a.m.
Blaine Gorney lives in Salisbury.
Blaine Gorney lives in Salisbury.

By Blaine Gorney
I’m writing in hopes of sharing some facts drawn from national polls.

Jobs: Nearly 60 percent of likely voters said the economy and jobs were the most important issue in their vote for president, compared to only 8 percent who listed the deficit. (The good news is that putting Americans back to work is the best way to fix the deficit.) www.pollingreport.com/prioriti.htm


Taxes: Public concern over the debt and deficit, already extensive, is only likely to increase as the so-called “fiscal cliff” approaches at the end of the year. Yet among a dozen specific options for reducing the debt and deficit, only two won majority approval from the public — raising taxes on annual incomes over $250,000 (64 percent approve) and limiting corporate tax deductions (58 percent). www.politico.com

Defensespending: Indeed, the idea of cutting the huge U.S. military budget seems to enjoy considerable popularity among Americans. In May 2012, a survey of U.S. public opinion by the Stimson Center found 76 percent of respondents favored slashing U.S. military expenditures. This included 80 percent of respondents in districts that elected Democrats and 74 percent in districts that elected Republicans. http://truth-out.org

SocialSecurity: More than 80 percent of Americans oppose cutting Social Security benefits, even to help reduce the budget deficit.

Medicare: More than 75 percent of Americans oppose cutting Medicare benefits, even to help reduce the budget deficit.

Medicaid: 65 percent of Americans oppose the congressional Republicans’ plan to restructure and cut Medicaid. www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/postkaiserpoll_20120805.html

Education: A new national survey by the Pew Research Center found that cuts in education spending are particularly unpopular. Seventy-five percent disapprove of reducing federal education funding and 61 percent oppose cuts in funding for student loans.

Stimulus: Those who had heard at least something about the stimulus program were then asked whether the stimulus was the right or wrong thing to do for the country. A majority (55 percent) thought the stimulus program was the right thing to do. In the public’s view, the stimulus may not have been perfect, but it was integral to helping our economy get back on track. //www.americanprogress.org

Poverty: 87 percent of Americans think helping the working poor should be a top or important priority of government. By a 72 percent to 28 percent margin, voters think millionaires paying taxes at a lower rate than their workers is a bigger problem than “47 percent of Americans” not paying federal income taxes. Voters who view poverty as a top concern are more likely to trust politicians who talk about the importance of helping the working poor over those who talk only about fighting for the middle class. http://americanvaluesnetwork.org

Cleanenergy: According to a Yale/George Mason University poll, 63 percent of Americans think the nation should act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions now, even if other countries don’t take action. The survey found 65 percent of Americans support cutting greenhouse gas emission levels by 90 percent by 2050. Of those polled, 63 percent also said they wouldn’t mind a utility bill price hike if it meant companies would be forced to source a portion of their energy from renewables.

Climatechange: Americans’ belief in the reality of global warming has increased by 13 percent over the past two and a half years, from 57 percent to 70 percent in September 2012. At the same time, the number of Americans who say global warming is not happening has declined nearly by half, from 20 percent in January 2010 to only 12 percent today. In March 2012, more than half of Americans (54 percent) believed global warming is caused mostly by human activities. Americans who say it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment have declined to 30 percent, from 37 percent in March. http://environment.yale.edu

Churchandgovernment: In a recent study found that “Nones” (nonreligious) have climbed to 19 percent — or almost in 5 Americans. “Nones” are now the second largest denomination in the country. http://ffrf.org.

It was also reported that almost 70 percent of Americans believe in the separation of church and state. www.firstamendmentcenter.org

These poll results don’t offer any magic bullet solutions but are merely an attempt at a magic mirror. As Socrates stated, “I cannot teach anyone anything. I can only make them think.”

?“My Turn” columns should be between 500 and 700 words. E-mail submissions are preferred. Send to cverner@salisburypost.com with “My Turn” in the subject line. Include name, address, phone number and a digital photo of yourself if possible.

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