Although many survey questions you hear about show close to a 50/50 split in public opinion, there are still many questions that offer nearly unanimous agreement and probably help to define who we are as a Nation in terms of core values and beliefs. I have always wondered what these key issues are, so I gathered up as many of these “over-80 percent” responses as I could easily locate back in 2014. They come in two kinds of statistical samples: biased and un-biased.
The only correct way to survey people’s opinions is through a carefully designed randomized survey to eliminate biases that would skew the results. The answers you get from these surveys are probably the most reliable. After each question I give the response and its percentage, the number of people in the sample, the name of the surveyor, and the date. Many of these surveys are by land-line telephone, so a fair question is: Are people that answer their land-lines typical of the general population today?
Do you use your seatbelt? Yes=98 percent (1500, Washington state poll, Traffic Safety Commission 9/23/2010)
Do you believe that man-made climate change is real? Yes=97 percent (1372 scientists, National Academy of Science, 6/22/2010) Note. Pew Research survey in 2016 of 1019 US adults found that only 65% believed this was true.
There are now all too many examples of significant climate change..How many more do we need? (Credit: NATO Review)
Do you play video games? Yes = 97 percent (1102 children ages12-17, Pew Internet and American Life Project, 9/17/2008)
Do you broadcast your location on the Internet using location-based services? No = 96 percent (1500, Forrester Research, 8/30/2010)
Do you believe in a God? Yes = 95 percent (1500, Gallop Poll, 3/29/2001) Note Gallup Poll 2016 shows that 89% now believe in God. Related to this is the Pew Research poll in 2015 that showed 72% of people believed in an afterlife. A Roper Survey in 2011 found 40% of US adults believed in ghosts, but this belief has been declining since 2005 when it was 48%.
Do you want stronger protection for your Internet privacy? Yes=94 percent (2117, Pew Internet and American Life Project, 5/2000 ) Note: In April 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that now allows Internet Service Providers to sell your private information without telling you!
Are the Arts vital to providing a well-rounded education to children? Yes=93 percent (1000, Harris Poll, 6/13/2005)
Would you vote for a woman for President? Yes=92 percent (1229, CBS News/New York Times, 2/5/2006 ) In the 2016 presidential election, over 3 million more people voted for the female candidate than the male candidate.
Would you stop doing business with a company because of bad service? Yes = 87 percent (2000, Harris Interactive,10/8/2008)
Do you use the print version of the Yellow Pages phone book? Yes = 87 percent (9008, Knowledge Network/SRI Industry Usage Study, 2/26/2008)
Do you think that English should be the official language of the US? Yes= 87 percent (1000, Rassmussen Report, 5/11 /2010) Note, in 2016 a Pew Survey found that 90% of American adults thought that English should be the official language.
Do you think it is important for America to use and develop solar energy? Yes=92 percent (1000 online survey, SCHOTT Solar Barometer; Kelton Research, 10/8/2009)
Do you think the federal government is broken? Yes= 86 percent (1023, CNN/Opinion Research Poll, 2/22/2010). Note in 2015, 75% of Gallup Survey believed that widespread government corruption exists. President Trump was elected to shake up the government and ‘drain the swamp’, only to demonstrate that he was himself a major corrupting influence supported by intense Russian influence in the election.
Would you prefer to stop using paper and go Green? Yes=85 percent (1000, Harris Interactive/DocuSign Inc, 6/30/2010)
Should you have to prove you are a citizen before you receive healthcare in the U.S.? Yes=83 percent (1500, Rassmussen Report, 9/7/2009)
Do you shop ‘Green? Yes = 82 percent (1000, Opinion Research Corporation, 2/6/2009)
Do you favor legalizing marijuana for medical use? Yes=81 percent (1083, ABC/Washington Post, 1/18/2010)
Is a car a necessity? Yes=86 percent (2967, Pew Research, 4/2/2009)
Do you think the government will make progress on important issues? No=90 percent (1010, Pew Research, 9/23/2010)
In the future, will computers be able to talk to humans? Yes=81 percent (1546, Pew Research, 6/22/2010 )
Do you know what Twitter is? Yes= 85 percent (1007, Pew Research, 7/15/2010)
Is President Obama a Muslim? No = 82 percent (3003 adults; Pew Research 8/19/2010) Note by 2015 this had fallen to 79% (CNN/ORC Poll). This truly shows that nearly 30% of American adults are certifiably as dumb as dust. This belief among GOP voters is nearly 3 times higher than for democrats.
Has science had a positive effect on society? Yes = 84 percent (2001, Pew Research, 7/9/2009)
Is climate change a serious threat and are you willing to make sacrifices to combat it? Yes=80 percent (1000, Institution of Civil Engineers, 11/20/2009). President Trump’s official position is that climate change science is a Chinese hoax.
Do you live in a house with at least one cellphone? Yes = 90 percent (3001, Pew Research Center, 2/4/2011) Note in 2015 the Pew Research Center found that 64% of American adults owned a smartphone.
Will you be eating Thanksgiving meal with family? Yes= 89 percent (2691, USA Today, 11/30/2011)
Did you make a good investment getting your undergraduate degree? Yes= 89 percent (1500, American Council on Education Winston Group survey, 12/30/2010)
Biased but Interesting Surveys
Biased surveys a not regulated (a person can vote multiple times) and often ask you to vote online, or are conducted by institutions that have a point to make and could be suspected of selecting in advance the people they want to survey that are like-minded (e.g. Fox News). In the results below I have selected CNN.com’s daily online voting results because they were easily available. CNN readers are in equal shares, Liberal, Moderate and Conservative. In addition 50 percent are Democrats and 16 percent are Republicans. Of course ,all have access to the internet and are not surveyed by land-line telephone so they probably represent a younger population.
Do you think Japan should become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council? “ Yes = 94 percent (924,421, 4/12/2005 )
Do you know how you will vote in the mid-term elections? Yes=90 percent (30799, 10/21/2010 )
Is it time to break out of the two-party political system? Yes = 84 percent (26837, 10/26/2010)
Do political TV ads influence your vote? Yes = 83 percent(70588, 10/27/2010)
Did you brave the crowds and shop on Black Friday? No=84 percent (112322, 11/27/2010)
What do you think of a publisher’s decision to remove the N-word from Huckleberry Finn? Disapprove = 92 percent (44377, 1/7/2011)
Do you think there may be life on planets other than Earth? Yes = 88 percent (243250, 5/22/2011).
Is raising a child free of gender roles a good idea? No=85 percent (198329, 5/27/2011)
Do you approve of the performance of your congressional representatives? No=86 percent (123776, 8/3/2011) Note in 2017 the Rassmusen Survey found that 75% of adults gave Congress a poor rating. So we like the Congressperson we voted for, but dislike everyone else and what they do.
Have you lost confidence in the ability of world leaders to tackle economic problems? Yes=86 percent (187969, 9/16/2011)
Should states require welfare recipients to pass drug tests? Yes = 80 percent (170382, 10/26/2011)
Do you snack on grocery store food before you buy it?
No=89 percent (59894, 11/4/2011)
Are you ready to “boot out” your representative in Congress?
Yes=81 percent (89916, 12/10/2011)
Should racist remarks be subject to criminal prosecution?
No=86 percent (106918, 12/22/2011)
Should convicted murderers be eligible for full pardons?
No = 86 percent (86970, 1/12/2012)
Things we should agree on but don’t.
There are also many issues we should agree on but don’t. It doesn’t matter how much money we invest in ‘public education’. The general public simply doesn’t get it on many significant issues…and they vote accordingly. Here are some of my favorites, sad to say.
Does Ebola spread easily? No=27 percent (1025, Harvard School of Public Health, 8/13/2014). This is a case of fear overcoming reason and evidence.
Are childhood vaccines safe and effective? Yes=53 percent (1012, AP/GFK Poll, 3/24/2014). This is another case of fear overcoming evidence, but with potentially devastating results if too many people ‘opt out’.
Did the universe begin with a huge explosion? Yes= 38 percent (1500, National Science Board,2014 ). This is a case of personal belief and religious fundamentalism overcoming evidence and reasoned discussion. Even the Catholic Pope finds no contradiction with believing the scientific story!
Have humans and other living things evolved over time? Yes=60 percent ( 1983, Pew Research, 3/8/2013). Again, religious fundamentalism and pseudoscience have biased American public thinking.
Would you support a candidate who advocate carbon emission reduction? Yes=68 percent (2105, University of Texas, 9/4/2014). This is directly connected to the public’s lukewarm belief in climate change and the massive negative campaigning by the GOP and industrial lobbyists. In 2016 we elected a president who sides with industry and climate change deniers and is now dismantling both the EPA and canceling all research on climate change at many governmental institutions.
Check back here on Wednesday, April 12 for my next topic!