December 16, 2008

What a Year! People-Press Poll Reports in 2008

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press conducted 23 nationwide surveys this year, interviewing close to 40,000 Americans. Its poll findings tell the story of how and when voters made their voting decisions in the longest — and one of the most exciting — presidential elections in American history. The surveys also chronicled public reactions to other major events of the year ranging from the pope’s visit, to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the onset of a mega-economic downturn

Jan 2 On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, Rudy Giuliani’s once solid lead in nationwide polling of Republican voters has vanished. Report
Jan 4 Far more Democrats than Republicans say they are looking forward to the 2008 election, especially the primary contests. Report
Jan 11 The internet has now become a leading source of campaign news for young people and the role of social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook is a notable part of the story. Report
Jan 16 John McCain has moved out to a solid lead nationally. Report
Jan 24 Economic problems now top the public’s list of national concerns, with roughly one-in-three (34%) citing economic problems as the nation’s gravest concern, compared with 27% who say the war in Iraq is the biggest problem facing the nation. Report
Jan 31 Although the inclusion of cell phone samples is very costly, and may make little difference in the substantive conclusions one would draw from political surveys, other aspects of the dual frame design provide particular benefits that may argue for the adoption of this type of sampling frame design. Report
Feb 3 Obama has made notable gains in support among whites — especially white men — political moderates, and middle-income voters. However his strongest backers continue to be African Americans, liberals, Democratic-leaning independents, and well-educated, affluent Democrats. Report
Feb 14 Public views of the U.S. economy, already quite negative, have plummeted since January. Just 17% currently rate the nation’s economy as excellent or good, down from 26% last month. Report
Feb 28 Attitudes about the war in Iraq have turned more positive. A steadily growing number of Americans say progress is being made in Iraq. Moreover, 47% now favor keeping U.S. troops in Iraq until the situation there has stabilized, the highest percentage expressing this view in well more than a year. Report
Mar 6 A majority of Americans say that developing new sources of energy, rather than protecting the environment, is the more important priority for the country. Report
Mar 12 Public awareness of the number of American military fatalities in Iraq has declined sharply since last August. Report
Mar 17 Financial woes now overshadow all other concerns for journalists. Report
Mar 19 A year after revelations of problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the public remains highly critical of the government’s performance in supporting and caring for soldiers who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. Report
Mar 27 The Wright controversy does not appear to have undermined support for Obama’s candidacy. Report
Apr 3 On the eve of his visit to the United States, Pope Benedict is still unknown to many Americans. The pontiff gets mixed ratings for his efforts to promote good relations between the Catholic Church and other major religions. Report
May 1 Democratic voters are not as positive about Barack Obama as they were a month ago. Obama has lost ground among whites — especially white working-class voters — who now prefer Clinton by an even larger margin than they did in late March. Report
May 6 Pope Benedict XVI is viewed more favorably than he was a few weeks before his trip. Currently, 61% of Americans say they have a favorable impression of the pope, up from 52% in late March. Report
May 14 Americans continue to hold their local and state governments in fairly high esteem, but positive views of the federal government are at their lowest point in at least a decade. Report
May 29 As the end of the primary season draws near, Barack Obama is the clear favorite of Democratic voters for their party’s presidential nomination. But when tested against John McCain in a general election matchup, he now runs about even against the presumptive Republican nominee. Report
Jun 3 The overall image of the Democratic Party has improved over the past year, although the Democratic-led Congress remains widely unpopular. Report
Jun 16 More Americans now say that the United States is less respected in the world than it has been in the past, and a growing proportion views this as a major problem for the country. Report
Jul 1 As gas prices pinch, support for energy exploration rise. More Americans now favor drilling in ANWR. Report
Jul 10 Turnout is likely to be higher this fall — perhaps much higher than in previous elections — as voter interest continues at record levels. As has been the case since the start of the campaign, Democrats enjoy a substantial engagement advantage over Republicans that may significantly alter the composition of the November electorate. Report
Jul 31 Inflation staggers public, but globalized economy still seen as fixable. 87% say that when it comes to the economy, it matters who is elected president. Far more voters say that Barack Obama, rather than John McCain, can do a better job of improving economic conditions (47% to 32%).(Link) 438/”>Report
Aug 6 As he has since January, this week, Barack Obama enjoyed much more visibility as far as the public was concerned than did John McCain But the Democratic candidate’s media dominance may not be working in his favor. Close to half (48%) of Pew’s interviewees went on to say that they have been hearing too much about Obama lately. Report
Aug 13 As the presidential nominating conventions approach, Barack Obama’s lead over John McCain has disappeared. McCain is garnering more support from his base — including Republicans and white evangelical Protestants — than he was in June, and he also has steadily gained backing from white working-class voters. Report
Aug 17 For many Americans, the choice is not between traditional sources and the internet, they use both. Integrators, who get the news from both traditional sources and the internet, are a highly engaged, sophisticated and demographically sought-after audience segment. Net-Newsers principally turn to the web for news, and largely eschew traditional sources. This smaller, younger, more internet savvy audience segment is leading the way in using new web features and other technologies. Report
Aug 21 Some Americans are having a change of heart about mixing religion and politics. A new survey finds a majority of the public now saying that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters and not express their views on day-to-day social and political matters. Report
Sep 18 Following the conventions, McCain has made considerable progress in changing fundamental attitudes toward his candidacy. Yet the race remains close largely because Obama continues to be seen as the candidate of change, and voters remain divided over whether McCain would govern differently than President Bush. Report
Sep 23 By a margin of almost two-to-one the American public thinks the government is doing the right thing in investing billions of dollars to try to keep financial institutions and markets secure. And voters favor Barack Obama over John McCain as the presidential candidate best able to address the crisis. Report
Sep 24 The public is feeling much better about how the war in Iraq is going these days, but at the same time has a sharply diminished appetite for U.S. efforts to deal with an array of global problems. Report
Sep 30 As Congress debated the financial bailout bill over the past week, public support for government action has declined. A narrow 45%-38% plurality of the public now says that a government plan to invest or commit billions of dollars to secure financial institutions is the right thing to do. Report
Oct 1 Obama boosts his leadership image and regains lead over McCain following the first presidential debate. The electorate continues to have much more confidence in Obama than McCain to deal with the financial crisis, which is dominating the public’s attention at levels usually associated with wars and natural disasters. Report
Oct 6 While the vice-presidential debate had a larger audience than any other in history, voters’ impressions of Sarah Palin have changed little. Most voters continue to have a favorable view of Palin, but most also still believe that she is not qualified to serve as president. Report
Oct 15 Americans are concerned about the nation’s economic problems almost to the exclusion of every other issue, and they register the lowest level of national satisfaction ever measured in a Pew Research Center survey. However, there is little indication that the nation’s financial crisis has triggered public panic or despair. Report
Oct 21 Barack Obama’s lead over John McCain has steadily increased since mid-September, when the race was essentially even. There are growing doubts about Mc Cain’s judgment, age and campaign conduct. Report
Oct 23 With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, voters remain riveted to the presidential campaign. But liberal Democrats are leading the way by engaging in far more activism than other partisan and ideological groups. Report
Oct 28 Barack Obama leads John McCain by a 52%-to-36% margin in Pew’s latest nationwide survey of 1,325 registered voters. This is the fourth consecutive survey that has found support for the Republican candidate edging down. Report
Nov 2 Barack Obama holds a significant lead over John McCain in the final days of Campaign 2008. The Pew Research Center’s final pre-election poll, finds Barack Obama holds a 52%-to-46% advantage, over John McCain with 1% each going to Ralph Nader and Bob Barr. In the campaign’s final week, McCain is getting the boost that Republican candidates typically receive when the sample is narrowed from the base of registered voters to those most likely to vote. The Republican candidate has also made gains among political independents and middle-income voters. Report
Nov 13 A week after the election, voters are feeling good about themselves, the presidential campaign and Barack Obama. Looking ahead, they have high expectations for the Obama administration, with two-thirds predicting that he will have a successful first term. Report
Dec 11 With Americans continuing to render extremely bleak assessments of economic conditions, a psychology of bad times is becoming the mindset of the public. This is spurring increasing numbers of consumers to say they are cutting back on everything from major purchases to eating out. Report