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Friday, July 30, 2010

Weekly Hot List

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

U.S. Economic Recovery: 33% see economy "getting better," down from 41% in early May

Economic Recovery Near You: -1 rating in D.C. is nation's best; -46 in W. Va. is the worst

China's Boom: 81% were optimistic about their local economy in '09, top score in the world

Immigration Furor: 45% want less immigration; 34% prefer present level

Tax Cut Question: 63% in April expected a tax hike within a year

Obama on Education: 34% are confident in U.S. public schools

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

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Understanding Gallup's Global "Happiness" Research

A lot has been written this month about recent Gallup findings on "happiness" around the world.

Some of the coverage is based on a paper written by Gallup Senior Scientist Ed Diener, Gallup Chief Researcher Jim Harter, and others, which appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

That paper is not based on one survey or one study but rather it is an in-depth analysis of one of dozens of subjects Gallup continuously tracks worldwide: wellbeing. It's a concept that goes beyond simple happiness for people and wealth within societies to uncover what really makes certain people and communities thrive while others struggle and suffer.

Here's what The Washington Post pulled out as the key findings of that paper: "Pulling in the big bucks makes people more likely to say they are happy with their lives overall -- whether they are young or old, male or female, or living in cities or remote villages, the survey of more than 136,000 people in 132 countries found. But the survey also showed that a key element of what many people consider happiness -- positive feelings -- is much more strongly affected by factors other than cold, hard cash, such as feeling respected, being in control of your life, and having friends and family to rely on in a pinch."

That is the crux of it. Money does matter, but so do many other things. Examining the issue in a slightly different way, looked at Gallup's March report on wellbeing worldwide -- based on both life evaluation and daily experiences -- and compiled a table of "the world's happiest countries." These rankings are based on the most recent Gallup survey from each of 155 countries.

The rankings confirm that achieving "wellbeing" is based on much more than how rich a country or person is. That's why it's also just one piece of what Gallup is studying and tracking around the world. Put simply, we're continually surveying about everything -- economic and social -- that makes individuals and societies thrive.

Our research has shown that only by meeting first order needs, such as law and order and food and shelter, and then higher order needs, such as good jobs, can maximize societies' brain gain and GDP growth. We've organized these needs on a path for building the best society possible. Notice that elusive and amorphous "wellbeing" is right in the middle. It includes everything from personal health and economics to social networks and several measures of "happiness."

We believe leaders can't maximize the potential of their societies until they measure and truly understand their individual country's areas of strength and weakness and then track progress toward improvement.

So, when you read about Gallup's global findings, either on or elsewhere, remember that each little nugget is just one ingredient of the larger recipe for true wellbeing worldwide. We're on it, measuring and analyzing, in every country we can, and will continue to bring the findings to you.

To be sure you are always up to date, bookmark our World page or sign up to receive our World stories via email alert or RSS feed.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Weekly Hot List

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

Obama Paradox?: 6th quarter approval is on par with several recent predecessors

Government at Work: 11% have confidence in Congress; 36% in presidency

Banks Under Stress: 23% confidence rating remains near record low

Record Federal Deficit: 79% see government debt as serious threat to future U.S. wellbeing

Kagan Confirmation: 44% favor it; lowest on record for recent successful nominees

Plus, check out Obama’s job approval rating, job markets, and wellbeing by state.

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

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tracking the Impact of the Affordable Care Act

Guest blog from Associate Editor Elizabeth Mendes

Three major provisions of the Affordable Care Act -- President Obama’s expansive health reform bill signed into law in March 2010 -- are now in effect. Individually, the three provisions, detailed below, are meant to expand healthcare coverage for low-income Americans and for those with pre-existing conditions who are uninsured as well as to help seniors pay for medications.

Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index daily tracking allows us to get a read on how quickly these provisions will begin to have an impact on Americans’ self-reported health and wellbeing and to what extent.

April 1, 2010: State Medicaid Expansion

The federal government on April 1 increased matching Medicaid funds available to states to cover more low-income residents. At this point states have the option of taking part in the program, but all states are required to expand their Medicaid programs to cover most non-elderly Americans with incomes below 133% of the federal poverty level by 2014.

Next Friday Gallup will publish its 2010 halftime report on the uninsured by state, reviewing findings from January through June of this year. The data can serve as one measurement benchmark for states as they begin to implement their Medicaid expansion programs. Leaders will have one gauge of the effectiveness of their initiatives when Gallup releases complete 2010 uninsured data, encompassing all 12 months of the year, in early 2011.

June 1, 2010: Filling Medicare Prescription Drug “Donut Hole”

The federal government began mailing $250 rebate checks to an estimated four million seniors in June to help them fill a gap in their Medicare prescription drug coverage. Round one was sent out in June, another group of checks was sent out in early July, and the government will continue the once-a-month mailings throughout 2010.

Gallup asks Americans each day if there have been times in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to pay for healthcare or medicine that they or their family needed.

We will monitor seniors’ responses in the weeks and months ahead to see if the rebate checks have changed seniors’ perceptions of their ability to afford medication. We will publish our findings in the near future.

July 1, 2010: Transitional Insurance Pool for Uninsured With Pre-Existing Conditions

Under the new law, health insurers will no longer be allowed to deny coverage to or hike premiums for people with pre-existing conditions. But this doesn’t go into effect until 2014. In the meantime, the government is setting up transitional insurance pools for Americans who have pre-existing conditions and have been uninsured for at least six months.

Some states will administer the new insurance plans themselves and others will allow the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to handle the program. In states where HHS is in charge, qualified residents could start enrolling on July 1. Some state-run programs started at the same time and others will be implementing the new plans throughout the summer.

Gallup’s analysis of health insurance data out last week found that as of June, one in six Americans were uninsured, on par with June of 2009 and consistent with monthly readings throughout the past 12 months.

We are tracking the uninsured daily and will watch for any changes in July and report what we find on

To make sure you get our latest news on health insurance in America, sign up for our Healthcare e-mail alerts or RSS.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Taking Your Ideas for "State of the States"

We kicked off our midyear "State of the States" reports Monday with Obama Job Approval by state. It's the first of several state-level stories we'll release over the next three weeks, based on surveys conducted January through June of this year as part of Gallup Daily tracking.

For the first time, we're taking readers' suggestions for one of our stories. So, have a look at all of the questions we ask daily and e-mail us at or post a comment with an item you'd like to see analyzed by state (unfortunately, we can't report underemployment or consumer spending by state at this time). We'll report on our "readers' pick" on Friday, August 6.

Here's the complete release schedule (subject to change):

Monday, July 19: Obama Job Approval
Wednesday, July 21: Job Creation Index
Friday, July 23: Well-Being Index

Monday, July 26: Party Identification
Wednesday, July 28: Economic Confidence Index
Friday, July 30: Uninsured

Monday, August 2: Ideology
Wednesday, August 4: Obesity and Diabetes
Friday, August 6: Readers' Pick

These stories are meant to serve as a midyear checkup to see how the states fared on key metrics in the first half of the year, pinpointing areas of strength and weakness.

You can still sort and export complete state-level data from 2008 and 2009 through our "State of the States" interactive. We'll update this feature again early next year once we have new full-year totals in based on all 2010 surveys.

To make sure to get every "State of the States" story as soon as it is published, sign up for "All Gallup Headlines" via e-mail alerts or RSS feeds.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Weekly Hot List

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

Confidence Drop: -35 economic confidence rating so far in July foreshadows monthly decline

Banks' Better Days Ahead?: 28% in 2009 had a positive image of the banking industry

Spill Concerns Contained: 7% see disaster relief as top problem, down from 18% in June

Petraeus' Challenge: 56% like him, but 60% see Afghanistan mission going badly

Palin Popularity: 76% favorable among Republicans tops others in GOP

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

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In The Queue: Favorables, States, and Institutions

We've got a lot of great content coming your way on

Our story on the favorability of the last three vice presidents is the first of several examining who's in and out of favor with the American public. Several current and former presidents and first ladies have their favorability reports coming soon, as do several potential GOP presidential contenders.

Next Monday, we begin our midyear reports on the State of the States. These reports will provide a halftime update on the key political, economic, and wellbeing metrics we track daily. They will set the stage for annual reports in early 2011 based on three full years of Gallup Daily tracking data.

Next week we'll also release the findings from our annual update on Americans' confidence in their institutions. We'll follow the main story with a more in-depth look at where certain institutions get their support or lack thereof.

In the next few days, you'll also see updates on economic confidence, underemployment, Elena Kagan, the uninsured, and more.

To make sure to get all of these stories as soon as they are published, sign up for "All Gallup Headlines" via e-mail alerts or RSS feeds. If you prefer, you can also sign up by specific topics including for favorability, politics, economy, wellbeing or institutions.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sick Days Add Up for the Young Jobless

A topic of great interest to us here at Gallup is the connection between health and productivity. We know from our research that sick days cost employers money. Now, our new research into unemployment reveals a link between health and lack of productivity. And it's a link that is more evident among the young.

Americans 18 to 29 years old who have been unemployed for six months or longer miss three times as many days of usual activities due to poor health as those unemployed for less time. Americans 30 to 49 years old miss nearly twice as many days. But for Americans 50 and older, there no difference at all.

These findings add the the growing evidence that the economic struggles of the past few years are hitting young people especially hard. Unemployment among young workers who are 16 to 24 years old remains at record highs, even as the jobs picture brightens for other groups. And with many of these young Americans thus struggling financially -- in many cases also without healthcare -- it appears they are enduring proportionally more physical health challenges as well.

As our Jenny Marlar reports, "the existence of physical pain, greater sick days, and loss of energy may make it more difficult, at least for the younger unemployed, to maintain employment or find new job opportunities," even if they were already suffering from poor health before becoming unemployed.

Taken together, long-term unemployment and more poor health days combine to create a tough hole to emerge from for those who are young and enduring long-term unemployment -- with implications both for the economy and an entire generation.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Weekly Hot List

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

U.S. vs. Arizona: 50% oppose federal lawsuit seeking to block Arizona's immigration law

Immigration Priority: 50% say halt inflow; 45% want plan for those in U.S.

Economic Confidence: -34 weekly Index score is lowest since July '09

Four Months to Go: 46%-44% statistical tie in generic ballot for Congress

Party Rebranded?: 62% of Tea Party supporters are conservative Republicans

Potential Googlers: 21% of Chinese in 2009 planned to buy a computer in the next 1-2 years

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

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Queue's Big Five of the First 100

Unbelievably, this post marks the 100th entry of The Queue. The goal of this blog is to help you better understand our mission at as a unique source of data-driven news, both in terms of what we report and how we report it. I also try to point you toward Gallup findings relevant to the news of the moment and to give you a heads up on what's coming up.

Since I'm sure I'm the only one -- other than my fantastic editor Jessica Stutzman -- who has read all of the posts, here are five good ones that sum up the collective mission of the site and the blog.

Gallup.Com Top 5 Basics: The key facts you need to know about how our news works.

Much More Than "A Gallup Poll": The 411 on Gallup Daily tracking and how it differs from traditional Gallup polls.

Widening the Measurement Lens: How our economic and wellbeing data paint a more comprehensive picture of what's happening in our world.

A Better Read on Economic Confidence: Why our economic data is more timely and accurate than other survey-based indicators.

Need for Research Based Solutions Clear . . . : How data like ours can help solve the top problems facing leaders and societies now.

By reading these posts, it should be clear that our news is about much more than reporting poll results for quick consumption. Rather, we are scientifically measuring everything that matters to inform our leaders and to help them craft better solutions.

Thanks to the more than 7 million of you who have visited this year, putting us in the 94th percentile of all news sites as measured by Meltwater. If you like what you see and find our information useful, please tell a friend. And as always, we welcome your feedback and ideas at

Friday, July 2, 2010

Weekly Hot List

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

Falling Unemployment: 9.5% rate anticipated by Gallup employment measure

Financial Reform: 55% favor government regulation of major financial institutions

Immigration Push: 36% in April called it the top priority, on par with financial reform

Afghanistan Withdrawal: 58% favor plan to begin pulling out in July 2011; 38% oppose

Gun Control: 44% vs. 43% divide last October on making gun laws more strict

Patriotic Nation: 32% of Americans call themselves "extremely patriotic"

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

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Where Immigration Ranks As an Issue

With President Obama Thursday restating his administration's commitment to immigration reform, it's worth revisiting where Americans rank immigration as an issue.

When asked in May about potential threats to the future wellbeing of the United States, immigration trailed terrorism, federal debt, healthcare costs, and unemployment in terms of threats Americans perceive as "extremely serious."

In our story on these findings, Jeff Jones reports that Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to say immigration is an extremely serious threat to the future wellbeing of the country. Republicans are also the party Americans trust most to handle the immigration issue, though by a small margin.

In terms of the public opinion context, it makes sense that Obama's immigration speech comes the day after the House passed a major financial reform bill. By a small margin, that's the issue Americans -- and Democrats even more strongly -- in April said Congress should make its highest priority.

With financial reform now through the House and the Senate expected to pass financial reform after the Fourth of July recess, Obama is smart to make it clear that immigration is on his radar.

We'll have an update on Americans' views about some of the particulars involved with immigration reform in a story for Tuesday. To make sure to get the story as soon as it is published, sign up for our immigration e-mail alerts or RSS feeds.

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