December 30, 2010

2010 Poll Findings that Will Matter in 2011

by Andrew Kohut, President, Pew Research Center

On issues ranging from the rising power of China to the desirability of bipartisan cooperation and the outlook for the nation’s future, Americans expressed views over the course of the past year that are likely to have consequences for the future course of U.S. policy and governance.

Doing Better: Blacks’ assessments about the state of black progress in America have improved more dramatically than at any time in the last quarter century. (January 2010)

We’re Beholden: Most Americans identify China as the foreign country holding the most U.S. government debt and most know that the United States imports two-thirds of the oil it consumes. (January 2010)

Nothing in It for Me: In assessing the personal impact of health care legislation, relatively few say they expect their insurance coverage to improve should the measure become law. (January 2010)

A Pistol-Packin’ Public: The public is divided over state and local laws banning handguns, and expresses growing support for gun rights. (March 2010)

Sidelining Uncle Sam: Rather than an activist government to deal with the nation’s top problems, the public now wants government reformed and growing numbers want its power curtailed. (April 2010)

Ism Schism: “Socialism” is not so negative, “capitalism” is not so positive among certain segments of the public — notably, young people and Democrats, among whom both “isms” are rated about equally. (May 2010)

Energy Double Take: The public remains of two minds on energy: Most favor expanding exploration and development of coal, oil and gas in the United States. But there also is broad support for limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. (June 2010)

Fine China: Publics in eight of 22 nations surveyed name China as the world’s leading economic power; only two countries saw China in that role in 2009. (June 2010)

It Will All Work Out: Despite the current economic slump and the widespread anticipation of crises to come, most Americans remain upbeat about the future, both for themselves and the nation. (June 2010)

Grand Old-Age Party: In the months leading up to the November midterm elections, older Americans were eager to vote … Republican, that is. (July 2010)

A Bank Boon: Government economic policies are seen as favoring banks and big business, not middle class or poor. (July 2010)

He’s Not One of Us: A substantial and growing number of Americans say that Barack Obama is a Muslim, while the proportion saying he is a Christian has declined. A plurality of the public says they do not know what religion Obama follows. (August 2010)

Islamic Reservations: The public continues to express conflicted views of Islam; favorable opinions of the Muslim religion have declined since 2005. (August 2010)

More News, Good News: Americans say they are spending more time with the news than over much of the past decade thanks to the increased availability of alternative ways to get the news. (September 2010)

Been There, Done That: The ranks of independents, now the largest group of voters, have swelled in recent years with citizens who have rejected both political parties. (September 2010)

Better Lucky than Good: The federal government continues to get positive marks for efforts to reduce the threat of terrorism, but many say luck is a big reason why the United States has not suffered a major attack at home since Sept. 11, 2001. (October 2010)

Ahead of the Gipper: Public enthusiasm for an Obama reelection bid is greater than it was for Ronald Reagan in 1982. (October 2010)

The Weather Gap: The divide between Republicans and Democrats on the existence and source of global warming has widened, with Republicans turning still colder on the issue of climate change. (October 2010)

Lowered Expectations: The Republican midterm wins drew mixed reactions from a public that is less happy with the election outcome than was the case after the 2006 and 1994 elections. (November 2010)

Fix It, No Not That Way: There is a broad public consensus when it comes to the seriousness of the federal budget deficit, which evaporates when concrete deficit reduction proposals are tested. (December 2010)

Yikes, Consensus: Agreement between Obama and congressional Republicans to extend tax cuts and unemployment benefits wins broad bipartisan support. Liberals are as supportive as conservative Republicans. (December 2010)

Down Beat: Consistent with the mood of the nation all year, 2010 is closing on a down note. Overwhelming numbers are dissatisfied with national conditions, rate national economic conditions as only fair or poor, and majorities or pluralities think the country is losing ground on nine of 12 major issues. (December 2010)