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Monday, June 28, 2010

Kagan Hearings in Context

Many Americans will get their first real look at Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan this week, as the Senate Judiciary Committee begins hearings expected to result in her confirmation.

While Democrats are believed to have votes to make the Solicitor General the next Supreme Court justice, Republicans are expected to try to capitalize on the live, televised hearings to voice their thoughts on judicial activism.

The back and forth, albeit unlikely to affect the outcome of the hearings, will of course have the potential to affect public opinion about Kagan serving on the court. When Gallup asked about her in late May, 46% favored her confirmation, 32% opposed it, and 22% were yet to form an opinion. Our Jeff Jones analyzed those findings in detail, finding that initial level of support not only trails recent nominees, but would also make her "the first nominee to win confirmation with less than majority initial public backing."

In the case of Sonia Sotomayor, who went through the confirmation process last summer, Americans hardly budged in their views of her following her hearings. However, as is normally the case, slightly more were able to express an opinion after having had the chance to see and hear her answer questions.

We'll get follow-up reactions to Kagan after her hearings as well. To make sure you get the story as soon as it is published, sign up for our Supreme Court e-mail alerts or RSS feeds.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Weekly Hot List

Fast facts from Gallup related to top stories in the news:

Financial Reform: 39% in April said it should be Congress' highest priority

Afghanistan Withdrawal: 51% approved of the approach Obama outlined last year

Election Predictions: 20% approval rating of Congress points to high seat change in November

Economic Confidence: 53% of upper-income consumers see economy getting worse

Realities in South Africa: 55% of South Africans in '09 said they, at times, struggled to afford food

To get all of our stories, sign up for All Gallup Headlines via e-mail alert or RSS.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Widening the Measurement Lens

In Time magazine, Zachary Karabell writes about the inadequacies of existing government metrics on most things: "If you examine almost any government statistic or calculation more closely, you will find that it is a guesstimate . . . On almost every level, we are making national economic policy on the basis of problematic data and inadequate models."

We at Gallup wholeheartedly agree, which is why we're investing a lot of our own time and money in creating new metrics to help the world better understand and solve social and economic problems. Our data, like the government's in most cases, is also based on surveys, with the added benefit of independent, objective, daily tracking.

Like Karabell states, the world has in fact gotten a lot more complicated. A key learning of the global economic collapse that even Alan Greenspan has acknowledged is that the old way of thinking -- a reliance on the rational and tangible -- is no longer enough. Human beings are at the helm and they are emotional, erratic creatures.

That's why our data are behavioral, based on how humans think and act, with the goal of anticipating their future behavior. Doesn't it make sense, for example, that how workers perceive the hiring situation at their place of work would be more likely to drive how much money they spend than what the government reports about jobs created or lost in communities far and wide?

And what about the finding that despite all that has happened in the past two years worthy of making any rational person pessimistic, Americans rate their lives more positively than at any time since January 2008? Make of it what you will, but it's something to be monitored and taken into account.

Countries like Bhutan and France already understand this, and are also investing time and money into new measurements to better measure and improve what is going on their societies. Leaders, journalists, and economic analysts in all countries including the U.S. owe their constituents the same attention to more inclusive, versus exclusive, ways of measuring all that matters.

Explore Gallup news and Social and Economic Analysis to learn more about our efforts in this arena.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Weekly Hot List

Fast facts from Gallup related to top stories in the news:

Bill for the Spill: 59% say BP should pay all losses, even if it goes out of business

Economic Impact: 83% expect spill to hurt economy; 79% see it raising food and gas prices

June Job Market: 18.6% underemployment marks a new 2010 low

Recovery Summer: 60% favor more stimulus spending to create jobs

Kyrgyzstan Conflict: 40% of Southern Kyrgyz in '09 said their communities were good for minorities, compared with 61% of Northern Kyrgyz

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Steep Climb for Oil Industry Image

While the executives of Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell, and ConocoPhillips testifying in Washington Tuesday tried to paint themselves as more responsible and less at risk than BP, the unfortunate reality is that the oil and gas industry is likely in this one together for the long-term.

While Americans blame BP and federal agencies that regulate oil drilling for the spill, the oil industry's collective image will no doubt suffer as a result.

Here's a reminder of just how large a hill they will have to climb together. You'll have to scroll to the bottom to see the oil and gas industry on this list of industry image ratings -- because it's dead last. The federal government -- of course also a key player in this disaster now and going forward -- is third to last. It's not exactly a vote of confidence from the American people.

These bottom of the barrel ratings from 2009 easily precede this historic accident and President Obama's own acknowledgment that "oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors, and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations."

We'll update these industry image ratings as part of our annual Work and Education poll in August. The questions now -- how far will the oil and gas industry fall? And what can it do to regain the trust of the American people? Will new watchdog efforts help? And how long will it take?

Be sure to get our annual update on industry ratings by signing up for our business e-mail alerts and RSS feeds.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Staying Up-to-Date on Obama Job Approval

With so many keeping close tabs on President Obama's job approval rating amid the oil spill disaster, here's a cheat sheet to help you always find the latest numbers from Gallup.

  • Daily at 1pET, we report Obama's latest three-day rolling average in the top left corner of the homepage as well as in the interactive graph behind it. Here you can view and "export" the complete trend since January 2009.
  • Every Monday afternoon, we also report Obama's latest weekly average, including breaks by demographic group, in the Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center. Here you can also view Obama's latest daily and weekly numbers in context of his term so far and compare him to past presidents.
We report on these findings in stories on a regular basis, and we also report Obama's Job Approval by month, quarter, year, and state as appropriate. Findings are based on Gallup Daily tracking surveys conducted every night, seven days per week.

To make sure you are always up-to-date on Obama's latest numbers, be sure to check every day via the Web, mobile browser, or iPhone.

To make sure to receive all of our stories on presidential job approval ratings, in the U.S. and worldwide, sign up for our presidential job approval e-mail alerts or RSS feeds.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Weekly Hot List

Fast facts from Gallup related to top stories in the news:

Obama and the Oil Spill: 4o% approve of his efforts; 46% disapprove

Consumer Spending: 33% surge evident among upper-income consumers

Election 2010: 46%-46% tie in generic ballot for Congress

Anti-Incumbent Sentiment: 60% of U.S. voters prefer a candidate new to Congress

Arizona Effect? 2-to 1 preference for Democrats among Hispanics' unchanged post-law

South Africa: 21% are thriving, 71% are struggling

To get all of our stories, sign up for All Gallup Headlines via e-mail alert or RSS.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

More Weeks Unemployed, More Tough Days

“The unemployment rate is still going to be high for a while, and that means that a lot of people are going to be under financial stress.”

That's the forecast from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as stated at a dinner in Washington, D.C., last night.

But how high? How much longer? And how much stress?

Those are some of the questions we're constantly seeking to answer and inform the public on with our Gallup Daily tracking of both underemployment and wellbeing.

According to our data, which are not seasonally adjusted, 19.1% of the U.S. workforce was underemployed in May, including 9.4% unemployed. We also found in surveys conducted in April and May that 25% of the unemployed have been actively looking for employment for a year and more. We also learned that after six months of unemployment, hope for finding a new job within four weeks is cut in half.

How does such a tough situation affect one's state of mind and wellbeing?

In a story Tuesday, we'll report the extent to which worry, sadness, and stress increase with the length of unemployment (Update: read the story), and the extent to which happiness and enjoyment decrease. These data go beyond the faceless unemployment rate to document and better understand the emotional toll of longer-term unemployment. In another story we're working on, we'll also document the physical toll of longer-term unemployment.

To get these stories as soon as they are published, sign up for our underemployment and wellbeing e-mail alerts.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Weekly Hot List

Fast facts from Gallup related to top stories in the news:

Jobs Watch: 19.1% underemployment in May reflects unemployment dip

Under Pressure: 46% approval rating for Obama marks lowest weekly average yet

Considering Kagan: 46% favor her confirmation, 32% do not, 22% have no opinion

The U.S. and Israel: 67% of Americans in February held a favorable view of Israel

One Year Since Cairo: 4 of 6 Arab countries less approving in 2010 than in fall 2009

To get all of our stories, sign up for All Gallup Headlines via e-mail alert or RSS.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Happiness Is Just the Beginning

"Happiness May Come With Age, Study Says."

That's the title of the most e-mailed -- and one of the most blogged about and viewed -- health story on The New York Times website for most of the week.

The findings, which people clearly find interesting, if not surprising, are based on our Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data, as analyzed by Gallup Senior Scientist Arthur A. Stone.

Readers of, and particularly our wellbeing news, have known about many of these trends for a while.

Last October, we reported -- based on the same surveys -- that "Americans Are Least Happy in Their 50s and Late 80s." In December, we reported that "Worry and Stress Decline With Age."

The New York Times story rightly mentions that our survey asks each person to "rank overall life satisfaction on a 10-point scale" as well as six yes or no questions: "Did you experience the following feelings during a large part of the day yesterday: enjoyment, happiness, stress, worry, anger, sadness."

But the survey doesn't end there. While the New York Times article says, "the poll’s health questions were not specific enough to draw any conclusions about the effect of disease or disability on happiness in old age," we do in fact ask, in the very same surveys, about respondents' physical health, emotional health, healthy behaviors, and much more. The opportunities for insight and analysis are, without exaggeration, endless.

What's more, because we ask these questions as part of our Gallup Daily tracking, we have a never-ending influx of new data to dive into for insights and breakthroughs about Americans' health and happiness.

I encourage anyone who found the happiness and age findings interesting to check out some of our other recent wellbeing discoveries. And if you have a research idea or a hypothesis you'd like to test, story ideas are always welcome at

To stay up to date on all news from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, sign up for our Well-Being Index e-mail alerts or RSS feeds.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In the Queue: Obama, Election, Employment

As we at Gallup have shifted more of our resources and reporting toward daily, continuous tracking over one-time snapshot polls, we've also added more ways for you to stay up to date on our findings.

Today, we're out with our weekly updates on Obama Job Approval, 2010 Election Preferences, and our Economic Indexes. You can count on these every Monday afternoon, reflecting data from Sunday to Sunday interviewing.

This week, we'll give you a more in-depth read on each of these, as we always do when we see something newsworthy.

At 46% approve, 46% disapprove, Obama is seeing the lowest approval rating of his presidency to date. Our Editor in Chief Frank Newport will analyze it in detail in his story for Wednesday.

At 49% Republicans, 43% Democrats, we're also seeing a wider-than-has-been-the-case gap in 2010 election preferences. Our Jeff Jones will put those figures into context for you, also on Wednesday.

With the government set to provide its latest update on unemployment on Friday, we'll report our data for May on Thursday, updating you not only on unemployment, but also underemployment. Also this week, we'll report for the first time how long Americans tell us they've been unemployed, and in the next few weeks, we'll tell you more about what we're learning about the emotional and physical affect of longer term unemployment.

To make sure to get each of these stories as soon as they are published, sign up to receive all Gallup Headlines via e-mail alert or RSS feed.

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