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.
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.
Opposition to Nuclear Power Rises amid Japanese Crisis
Support for the increased use of nuclear power has declined amid the ongoing nuclear emergency in Japan. But with the surge in gas prices, support for increased offshore oil and gas drilling is growing.
Republicans Are Losing Ground on the Deficit, But Obama’s Not Gaining
Far fewer Americans now say that Republicans in Congress have the better approach to the budget deficit than did so in November with the GOP losing ground among political independents as well as key elements of the its base, including Tea Party supporters. But the public is no more supportive of Barack Obama’s approach to the budget deficit than it was in November.
Public Wary of Military Intervention in Libya
By a wide margin, Americans say the United States does not have a responsibility to do something about the fighting between government forces and anti-government groups in Libya. Divided support for a no-fly zone is undercut by overwhelming opposition to bombing Libyan military air defenses.
Continuing Divide in Views of Islam and Violence
The public remains divided over whether Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers. Political and ideological divisions are wide, though. Most conservatives and Tea Party supporters link Islam with violence.
Most Favor Government Role in Reducing Childhood Obesity
While a 57%-majority says the government should play a significant role in reducing obesity among children, few rate it a policy priority and there is strong opposition from conservatives and Tea Party supporters.
Shifting Political Winds
Americans’ are less discontent with the federal government but no more ready for political compromise. Views of Congress remain heavily negative, while Obama’s ratings stay positive. On social issues, the public is, for the first time, evenly split on gay marriage, while support for legal abortion, legalized marijuana — but not gun control — have all risen.
Wisconsin Unions Favored Over Walker in Showdown
By a 42%-31% margin, the public sides with public employee unions in their dispute with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. At the federal level, President Obama and GOP leaders would share blame for a government shutdown.