Civil War at 150: Still Relevant, Still Divisive
A century and a half after the firing on Fort Sumter, most Americans say the war between the North and South is still relevant to American politics and public life today. In a nation that has long endured deep racial divisions, the history of that era continues to elicit strong reactions. Nearly half of the public (46%) says it is inappropriate for today’s public officials to praise the leaders of the Confederate states during the war; 36% say such statements are appropriate.
Obama Ratings Slip Amid Economic Anxieties
About as many now approve (47%) as disapprove (45%) of the way Obama is handling his job with the president getting especially negative ratings on his handling of the budget deficit and the overall economy. The GOP has an advantage on the budget, while Democrats are favored on traits such as concern for average people, willingness to work with the opposition, and ethics. The parties run about even on jobs and health care.
Public Sees Better News about Jobs, But Not Prices
While the public is hearing better news about jobs, news about prices (both gas and food) has become increasingly negative. Perceptions of the economic news vary along partisan lines, as Republicans offer a more negative assessment than do Democrats or independents.
Fewer See Clear Goal in Libya; Opposition to Arming Rebels
While half say the U.S. made the right decision in conducting airstrikes in Libya, fewer see a clear goal than did so last week. Americans believe preventing terrorism and keeping oil prices low should be important goals of the U.S. in the Middle East, but there is less consensus on encouraging democracy and protecting Israel.
Most Want Budget Compromise but Split on Who’s to Blame for a Shutdown
With a deadline approaching for a possible shutdown of the federal government, the public remains divided over whether congressional Republicans or the Obama administration would be more to blame if a shutdown occurs.
Political Knowledge Update
The public is generally aware of basic facts about several recent national and international news stories, but current politics in Washington, including the balance of power, are a mystery to many. Young adults score best on education and Facebook.
Lukewarm Public Interest in Libya
While the media pivoted to Libya, the public did not follow, keeping their focus on the crisis in Japan. Americans give the press high marks for their coverage of the Japan disaster and Libya conflict, but have little praise for media coverage of economics and politics.
Modest Support for Libya Airstrikes, No Clear Goal Seen
Nearly half of Americans say the U.S. made the right decision in conducting air strikes in Libya, while 36% say it was the wrong decision. On balance, however, the public does not think that the U.S. and its allies have a clear goal in taking military action and most see a lengthy involvement in Libya.
Obama Tests Well at Start of Reelection Run
Nearly half of registered voters say they would like to see Barack Obama reelected, while 37% say they would prefer to see a Republican candidate win the 2012 election. As for who that candidate will be, the GOP has yet to coalesce behind a candidate, but Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee lead the pack at this early stage.
Most Are Attentive to News About Disaster in Japan
News about the aftermath of the deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan dominated the public’s news interest and media coverage last week. The crisis at Japan’s nuclear plants — far more than other aspects of the story — captured the most public interest.