When Ban Ki-moon of South Korea placed his left hand on the Charter of the United Nations and was sworn in as its eighth Secretary General, he assumed control of an organization viewed with dramatically varying degrees of respect, skepticism and indifference by the countries of the world.
Nearly two-thirds of registered voters (64%) received recorded telephone messages in the final stages of the 2006 mid-term election. These so-called "robo-calls" were the second most popular way for campaigns and political activists to reach voters, trailing only direct mail.
Once again, public opinion played a major role in the most important news stories of the year. Some of the strongest 2006 trends in public opinion carried over from previous years -- notably growing concern about the Iraq war and mounting dissatisfaction with the performance of the Republican-controlled Congress.
The American public continues to have a mixed opinion about free trade agreements such as NAFTA and the WTO. On balance they are seen as a good thing for the country, but Americans are divided over the impact of free trade agreements on their own personal financial situations.
As Americans navigate increasingly crowded lives, the number of things they say they can't live without has multiplied in the past decade, according to a new Pew Research Center survey that asks whether a broad array of everyday consumer products are luxuries or necessities.
More than a quarter of all adults in the U.S. -- and more than half of 18-29 year olds -- have looked online for information about housing, double the overall number of Americans who had done so in 2000.
Politicians and political reporters are scrambling to book flights for New Hampshire and other presidential primary states, but the public is far from engaged in the jockeying for 2008.
The public has grown more negative about the situation in Iraq and President Bush's handling of the war. Half of Americans now believe the war in Iraq will turn out to be another Vietnam, while just a third think that the U.S. will accomplish its goals there.
Every year as the holiday season gets underway, debates break out across the country over the appropriateness of religious displays in public spaces. But the so-called "Christmas Wars" are only a small part of a much larger debate concerning the proper place of religion in public life, a debate that began at the nation's founding.
Despite a record drop this past year in the median sales price of existing homes, more than eight-in-ten homeowners expect the value of their homes to go up either "a little" (55%) or "a lot" (26%) in the future. However, these anticipated levels of future gains are not nearly as great as the gains that homeowners say they've experienced in recent years.