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Monday, August 30, 2010

Americans on Their Government

The ideal role of government as defined by Americans is a hot topic of discussion at the moment. With all the noise, it's difficult to find the truth about what Americans themselves think. To that end, here's a review of some recent Gallup findings on the topic.

A majority of Americans in June said the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. However, there have only been three times in the 18-year history of the question that a plurality of Americans said that "government should do more."

The size and power of the federal government ranks in the middle of the pack when Americans are asked to assess a series of threats to the future wellbeing of the United States. Americans are more concerned about federal government debt in particular.

Concern about the power and size of the federal government is higher among Tea Party supporters than among Republicans or other political groups. The same is true for concern about federal government debt.

Government involvement was a key concern voiced by Americans when assessing the healthcare reform legislation that is now law.

When asked about additional, specific proposals that would, arguably, expand the role of government -- to help create jobs or to regulate financial institutions, for example -- a majority of Americans tend to be in favor of such initiatives. They tend to oppose government spending to bail out troubled industries.

Americans in June were divided on whether it's better for the same party to control both the White House and Congress, or whether a divided government is better; 39% say it makes no difference. These views do ebb and flow based on the current circumstances of the time.

Republicans' current 10-percentage-point lead in Gallup's generic ballot for Congress suggests we may, in fact, be headed for a divided government. We re-asked that question in our latest stand-alone poll, which comes out of the field Tuesday, and will update you on whether views have shifted at all in the current climate.

All of these views are, no doubt, a part of the backdrop leading up to the elections, now just over two months away. Gallup will continue to measure and analyze Americans' views on their government from all angles and will also hold a summit in October at its Washington, D.C., headquarters on the topic.

To get all of our stories as soon as they are published, sign up to receive All Gallup Headlines via e-mail alert or RSS feed. To learn more this and other upcoming Gallup events, sign up for the topic "Events."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Migration Index Reveals a Country's Magnetism

World leaders often judge themselves on their job approval ratings, their ability to govern, and whether they are re-elected. While those views are important, they're rooted in the assumption that the citizens who judge them are exactly that . . . rooted. That is, that they won't altogether pick up and leave to live somewhere else.

Gallup's Potential Net Migration measures exactly that. Specifically, we ask citizens in as many countries as we can whether they would move permanently to another country if given the chance. The if part is important as we know many of the world's population will never have that chance. But it's still valuable intelligence for leaders, as it measures the potential push or pull of their nation on a global scale.

Our migration experts Neli Esipova and Julie Ray take the estimated number of adults who say they would move permanently from their country if given the chance and subtract the estimated number who would like to move in, as a proportion of the total adult population, to estimate the potential implications for the country's overall population. What they find is that the adult population of some nations would double or even triple, while others' would be cut by as much as half.

As Foreign Policy magazine put it, the findings show where people would live "in a borderless world." Foreign Policy rightly notes that China and India, despite their economic gains, still would lose more citizens than they attract, though that is in large part due to their huge populations.

At the same time, the popularity of small countries such as Singapore, New Zealand, and Switzerland suggest not only that immigration will always be a significant issue, but that leaders should be ready to capitalize on the potential for brain gain in highly-sought-after destinations. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are among the most popular destinations, a noteworthy finding for leaders in and outside of that region.

The optimal goal for leaders, of course, would be to retain their country's best talent while attracting some of the world's best as well. Our global dataset reveal much more about who wants to stay, who wants to leave, and for where; interested readers can e-mail for more information.

To receive future updates on this topic, sign up for our Migration e-mail alerts or RSS feed.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Industry Ratings Set Stage for Comebacks

No matter what you do, there's relevant news for you in our annual update on Americans' views of 25 business and industry sectors.

Our story focuses on the spike in positive ratings of the auto industry. The 15-percentage-point jump from 2009 to 2010 shows it's possible for even the most beleaguered sectors to rebuild themselves in Americans' eyes. It's also positive news for some of the other industries stuck in the image cellar, namely oil and gas, the federal government, banking, healthcare, and real estate. Each of these has taken a hit over the past few years and remain very much in the news, and thus subject to further scrutiny. Americans will continue to adjust their views on these industries based on what they see, and we'll continue to track and report on those views.

We'll report in-depth on several of these industries over the next few days, including how the Americans' views about them have ebbed and flowed in recent years. To make sure you receive the stories as soon as they are published, this year and next, sign up to receive e-mail alerts or RSS feeds for the topic "Industries."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

As Withdrawal Becomes Reality, What Americans and Iraqis Think

With the last U.S. combat brigade now out if Iraq, the reality of the U.S. withdrawing from that country is no doubt beginning to hit home -- for both Americans and Iraqis.

Since we poll in both the U.S. and Iraq, we're uniquely positioned to provide insights on what each citizenry thinks during this time of transition.

Friday morning on, we'll publish our latest findings on what Americans think about the timetable that was set for leaving Iraq and what their expectations are for the security situation there going forward. We'll also report on how Americans think history will judge the U.S.' involvement in Iraq, and whether they think Iraq is now better or worse off than it was before.

Next week on, we'll provide new insights from Iraqis' perspective, namely on how their views of their own leadership compare to their views of U.S. leadership. The results are from our polling there conducted in February and present quite a shift from two years ago.

In the meantime, visit our tag pages on the Iraq War and life in Iraq more broadly to get caught up on our latest findings and to subscribe for e-mail alerts so you get the new stories as soon as they are published.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Obama Approval: Tracking the Potential Causes and Effects

With President Obama hitting new lows in both our daily and weekly averages of his job approval rating in recent days, many are speculating about both the potential causes and implications.

First, the potential causes. We're going into the field tonight with questions gauging how much attention Americans are paying to the Manhattan mosque debate and what they thought about the president's comments on the issue. Certainly the topic is generating a lot of discussion and strong opinions in the media, but since we know Americans place little confidence in newspapers and television news, it's important to find out what Americans themselves really think.

In the meantime, let's not forget about everything else that is going on. Underemployment remains basically stuck at 18.3%. Americans see the economy and jobs as the most important problems facing the country. About one in four workers remains worried about being laid off, or having their pay or benefits cut.

What's more, even when Obama's approval rating was a little higher earlier this month, a majority of Americans disapproved of his handling of 8 of 13 prominent issues, including the situations in both Iraq and Afghanistan, immigration, and the federal budget deficit.

So, on the cause side, there's certainly a lot to consider. Our tracking will show, over the next few days, whether the current climate -- higher disapproval than approval -- is here for the short- or long-term.

On the implications side, we know that, historically, it doesn't go well for the president's party in congressional midterm elections when presidential approval is below 50%. Additionally, Republicans are in their best position yet in our tracking of the generic ballot for Congress -- both in terms of registered voters' support and enthusiasm about voting.

In terms of the president's own re-election, former Presidents Clinton and Reagan both saw similar job approval numbers in August of their second year as president and went on to be re-elected.

Of course, every story is unique, which is why we're tracking the many shades of all of the issues affecting the U.S., its leadership, and its people.

To get all of our stories as soon as they are published, including the findings of our polling on the mosque debate, sign up to receive All Gallup Headlines via e-mail alert or RSS.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Weekly Hot List

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

Germany's Economic Surge: 35% in 2009 saw the economy getting better, up from 16% in 2008

Sluggish U.S. Retail Sales: $68 daily spending average in July, hardly improved from June

Border Security Bill: 62% disapprove of Obama's handling of immigration

Recess Reminder: 19% approve of the job Congress is doing, 75% disapprove

Election Anxiety: 36 House seats lost, on average, when presidential approval is below 50%

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

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gallup Spotlight on Education

We're out today with the first national results of the Gallup Student Poll we conduct in school districts throughout the country.

The survey asks students in grades 5-12 about their hope for the future, engagement in school, and overall wellbeing. The good news is that many students are doing well. They feel good about their friends and family and are generally happy. But students aren't as positive about their schools, their ability to energetically pursue their goals, or to readily solve problems. Their responses also make clear the adults around them could be doing more to help them maximize their potential, for example, by helping them to do what they do best or giving them more recognition for good work. What's more, the finding that 92% of students strongly agree they will graduate from high school, while 70% actually do, makes it clear that many students lack the push they need to turn their hopes into reality.

The Student Poll results are the first in a series of stories on education issues coming up on On Aug. 25, we'll release the results of the 42nd annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll on the public's attitudes toward public schools. That survey gives us an in-depth look at Americans' views on the public school system, including their opinions on the role of the federal government, their views of teachers, and who ultimately should be held accountable for what students learn.

Additionally, our Aug. 5-8 Gallup poll, which is just out of the field, includes our annual update on Americans' and parents' views of U.S. public schools and the quality of education students receive.

To make sure you get every story as soon as it is published, sign up receive our education e-mail alerts or RSS feeds.

Additionally, policy-makers, business leaders, educators, and community leaders interested in using this research to develop more informed strategies to improve education are encouraged to register for Gallup's School of Thought summit to be held Aug. 25 at our Washington, D.C. headquarters.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"State of the States" Recap and Look Ahead

We've wrapped the official portion of our midyear "State of the States" reports based on Gallup Daily tracking data collected in the first half of 2010.

Here's a one-stop shop for all nine reports, which span several of our key political, economic, and wellbeing metrics.


Obama's Highest Half-Year Approval Ratings in D.C., Hawaii
More States "Competitive" in Terms of Party Identification
Wyoming, Mississippi, Utah Rank as Most Conservative States

Energy, Federal Government States Provide Best Job Markets
Economic Confidence Highest in D.C., Iowa, Minn., N.D.
Government Employment Ranges from 38% in D.C. to 12% in Ohio

Hawaii Leads in Wellbeing; West Virginia Ranks Last
Texas Maintains the Highest Number of Uninsured, Mass. Lowest
One in Three Adults Obese in America's Most Obese States

We're still tracking all of these metrics every day and dozens more, and we will continue to report findings by state, city, and other breakouts when we spot something interesting.

You can find full-year 2008 and 2009 data for most of these metrics in our "State of the States" interactive. We'll report new full-year totals in early 2011 based on all 2010 surveys.

If you have a story idea or topic you'd like to see us explore further, suggestions are always welcome at

Friday, August 6, 2010

Weekly Hot List

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

Employment Picture:
18.4% underemployment in July, steady compared with June

Justice Kagan:
46% support is lowest for recent successful nominees

Iraq Withdrawal:
50% say things in Iraq are going well; 48% say things are going badly

After the Leak:
43% say war in Afghanistan was a mistake, a new high

Same-Sex Marriage:
53% in May said it should not be legal

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

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Track Obesity in America Faster and More Frequently

Guest blog from Associate Editor Elizabeth Mendes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report Tuesday on state-level obesity rates. Gallup also published its latest findings on obesity by state on Tuesday. There is one key difference. Gallup’s obesity data encompass surveys from January-June 2010 while the CDC findings are based on data collected in 2009.

The bad news -- Gallup and the CDC both find obesity on the rise across the country.

The good news -- Gallup tracks obesity daily and reports national data at least once per quarter, state-level findings twice a year, and metro area statistics annually.

By monitoring obesity more frequently and publishing findings faster, Gallup data allow leaders to keep a closer and more consistent watch on obesity levels. In turn, federal, state, and local stakeholders can know sooner the results of policies and programs aimed at reducing obesity, react more quickly to unsuccessful efforts, and boost investment in strategies that are working.

You can review Gallup’s state-level obesity findings here.

Gallup will publish obesity by state data for all of 2010 in early 2011.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Stay Ahead With Gallup's Economic Releases

The news that the U.S. economy is growing at a slower pace than expected begs several questions. First, what's the truth about economic recovery? Second, why are so many "analyst forecasts" wrong?

Let's start with what's really going on with the economy. We learned Friday that businesses are spurring economic growth by boosting inventories, but consumers aren't spending at the rate the economy would like, while the job market musters only modest improvement.

Let's line that up with some recent Gallup findings. We've documented that, in fact, consumers are no more optimistic about the economy than they were a year ago. We also know they aren't spending any more than they were a year ago. We, too, find the job market generally improved but steady, both in terms of underemployment and job creation.

In many cases, our data line right up with what others saying. But they've also often proven to be ahead of the curve or even more precise, because we survey consumers every single day without interruption. Analysts' forecasts might be a little more on point if they took this super-timely data into account.

To help them do so, we're putting our most important economic releases on a set schedule readers can anticipate just like other economic indicators. In most cases, our release will come out before the corresponding metrics from other organizations. Our hope is that these releases will provide analysts and economy watchers with an even more up-to-date read of the economic realities on the ground.

Here's how our new schedule breaks down at a glance; all stories release at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Job Creation Index: First Tuesday of every month
Underemployment: First Thursday of every month
Economic Confidence Index: Second Tuesday of every month
Consumer Spending: Second Thursday of every month
Mid-Month Underemployment Update: 17th of every month, or subsequent business day
Mid-Month Economic Confidence Update: Fourth Tuesday of the month

The first four releases provide monthly summaries on each metric, while our mid-month updates provide a hint as to how the new month is going so far, highlighting any changes since the prior month's release.

In addition to these releases, we'll continue to report interesting findings when we see them and to analyze these trends in tandem with the larger economic picture.

To make sure you always up to date, bookmark our Economy page and sign up for our Economic e-mail alerts and RSS feeds. As always, your feedback is welcome at

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