Volume 6, Issue 3 • March 2010

Honesty and Ethics in Politics
Americans have long associated politics with corruption, but at some points, concern about it is greater than others. In a late 2009 Gallup question, a majority said the honesty and ethical standards of members of Congress were low or very low. This is the only time a majority has given this response since the question was first asked in 1976. In 1995, after a series of scandals that included the Keating Five, the related S&L crisis, and the House banking and post office scandals, the proportion saying low or very low was 46 percent. When Pew asked people in its mid-March 2010 poll to offer one word that best described Congress, all sorts of colorful adjectives were volunteered, but concerns about corruption were prominent. In Gallup’s early March survey, approval of the way Congress was handling its job was 16 percent, one of the lowest responses in the 35-year history of the question.
Q: It has been said that it is almost impossible for a man to stay honest if he goes into politics. Do you . . . ? 1943 Agree, it is almost impossible for a man to stay honest if he goes into politics Disagree
Source: National Opinion Research Center, 1943.

Q: Would you . . . ? 1997 Agree, people who go into politics cannot remain honest Disagree
Source: Fox News/Opinion Dynamics, 1997.

55% 37

48% 42

Q: Please tell me how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields . . . ? 2009 Honesty and ethical standards of Congressmen/members of Congress are very high/high Low/very low

Q: Which political party has . . . ? 2010 The Democratic Party has higher moral and ethical standards The Republican Party does Both (vol.) Neither (vol.)

9% 55

31% 29 6 22

Note: The top five of the 22 professions in terms of very high or high standards were nurses (83 percent), druggists (66 percent), medical doctors (65 percent), police officers (63 percent), and engineers (62 percent). Source: The Gallup Organization, November 2009.

Note: Vol. = volunteered response. Source: PSRA/Pew Research Center, March 2010.

Q: As you may know, there have been a number of allegations of ethics violations and misconduct by members of Congress. Do you think . . . ? 2010 This Congress has had more ethical problems than those in the past Fewer ethical problems About the same number
Source: NBC News/Wall Street Journal, March 2010.

Q: Do you think . . .? 2010 You personally could do a better job running the country than our government officials are presently doing No, could not

30% 4 63

36% 64

Source: CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, February 2010.

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Business Ethics: Wall Street, The Sequel
Perceptions of the honesty and ethical standards of people in business are only a little higher than views of members of Congress. A new poll from Harris Interactive about Wall Street shows that only around three in ten believe that most people there are as honest and moral as other people. In surveys taken by Gallup around the time of the Enron and WorldCom scandals, people said that the kind of practices that occurred at those corporations would not happen at their own workplaces.
Q: Please tell me how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields . . . . Honesty and ethical standards are high/very high (Top five) Nurses Druggists or pharmacists Doctors Police officers Engineers Bankers Business executives (Bottom five) Insurance salespeople Stockbrokers Members of Congress HMO managers Car salespeople 19 12 83% 66 65 63 62 Q: Please say if you tend to agree or disagree with the following statements about Wall Street . . . . Agree, most people on Wall Street would be willing to break the law if they believed they could make a lot of money and get away with it Disagree Q: In general, do you think . . .? 2002 2009 Most CEOs are honest and ethical 34% 22

Source: Fox News/Opinion Dynamics, latest that of February 2009.

66% 29

9 9 9 8 6

Note: The “tend to agree” response in 2009, 71%, was the highest response on this question since Harris asked it for the first time in 1996.

Note: This question was asked for the first time in 1981. High confidence in the honesty and ethical standards of business executives hovered around 20 percent in 20 askings of the question between 1981 and 2005. It has been below 15 percent in each yearly poll since 2006. Source: The Gallup Organization, November 2009.

Agree, in general, people on Wall Street are as honest and moral as other people Disagree

31% 64

Note: The “tend to agree” response in 2009, 26%, was the lowest response on this question since Harris asked it for the first time in 1996. Source: Harris Interactive, February 2010.

Coming Soon:

New AEI Public Opinion Studies on attitudes toward business and on the economic crisis

AEI POLITICAL REPORT CONTRIBUTORS
Karlyn Bowman, Senior Fellow; John Fortier, Research Fellow; Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar; Michael Barone, Resident Fellow. Research Assistants: Jennifer Marsico, Editor; Andrew Rugg, Editor. Interns: Nick Davis, Cameron Petty, Henrik Temp.

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Obama Up Close and Personal
In the latest polls, President Obama’s ratings have flatlined right below the 50 percent mark. He is still popular personally, although his ratings on this score have dropped, too. Strong majorities think he is honest and trustworthy, and separately, sincere. As a candidate in March 2008, 70 percent said he was inspiring. In Pew’s March 2010 poll, 61 percent gave that response. Pew notes that the changes in personal opinion of him have occurred across the board.
Q: Now I’m going to read you the names of several public figures and groups and I’d like you to rate your feelings toward each one . . . ? Feelings about Barack Obama Positive March 2010 April 2009
Note: Eleven percent said they had “Neutral” feelings in March 2010. Source: NBC News/Wall Street Journal, latest that of March 2010.

50%

Negative 38% 64 23

Q: Thinking about the following characteristics and qualities, please say whether you think it applies or doesn’t apply to Barack Obama . . . Is honest and trustworthy Does not apply to Obama Is sincere in what he says Does not apply to Obama
Source: CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, January 2010.

59% 40 63% 37

Q: As I name some traits, please tell me whether you think each one describes Barack Obama. First, do you think . . . ? Think of Barack Obama as Inspiring Decisive Arrogant Detached
Source: PSRA/Pew Research Center, March 2010.

61% 57 35 35

Q: Does Barack Obama make you feel . . . ? Hopeful Proud Disappointed Angry
Source: PSRA/Pew Research Center, March 2010.

54% 49 44 30

Q: Do you . . . ? Agree, President Obama Is open, honest, and trustworthy Provides a fresh outlook with new ideas
Source: Harris Interactive online survey, January 2010.

54% 56

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Money, Money, Money: Personal Finances in a Recessionary Time
In 2001, when most Americans were feeling good about the economy, and people were evenly divided about whether they were savers or spenders. Today, six in ten say they enjoy saving more than spending. Purchasing more generic brands is something many Americans have done in the past six months to save money. Six percent say they are stocking up on gold. Fewer people today than nine months ago are hearing mostly bad news about financial markets and the job situation, but the proportion hearing mostly bad news about real estate values and prices has not changed. Many of those who consider themselves middle class are struggling to stay there.
Q: Thinking about money for a moment, are you the type of person who . . . ?

80 70 60 50 40 30

I am the type of person who . . .

62%
More enjoys saving money

More enjoys spending money

35%
Apr. 2009 Jul. 2009 Feb. 2010
10 7 4 20 6 9 14 21 8

Apr. 2001

Apr. 2005

Apr. 2006

Source: The Gallup Organization, latest that of February 2010.

Q: Have you . . . ? Done or considering doing any of the following over the past six months in order to save money Have done Have considered Have not done 63% 12% 18% 45 8 13 39 8 31 34 33 22 22 21 19 17 15 14 21 23 17 41 19 31 52 45 31
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Purchasing more generic brands Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it Going to hairdresser/barber/stylist less often Switched to refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottle of water Cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions Cut down on dry cleaning Cancelled or cut back cable TV service Stop purchasing coffee in the morning Cancelled newspaper subscription Changed or cancelled cell phone service Cancelled landline phone service and only using cell phone Begun carpooling or using mass transit
Source: Harris Interactive online survey, January 2010.

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Dec. 2008

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Q: Some people who are extremely concerned about the health of the U.S. economy have taken a number of actions. Please tell me if you have . . . ? Taken this action because of concern about the U.S. economy Taken money out of the stock market 20% Stocked up on food, bottled water, or other staples 18 Bought a gun or ammunition 11 Purchased gold 6
Source: Fox News/Opinion Dynamics, February 2010.

Q: Please tell me if you are . . . ? Hearing mostly good news about The financial markets Mar. 2010 Jun. 2009 Real estate values Mar. 2010 Jun. 2009 Prices for food and consumer goods Mar. 2010 Jun. 2009 The job situation Mar. 2010 Jun. 2009 11% 9 8 11 9 9 5 1 Hearing mostly bad news about 26% 43 45 45 34 39 59 71 A mix of good and bad news about 59% 45 42 40 50 46 35 27

Source: PSRA/Pew Research Center, latest that of March 2010.

Q: Would you describe yourself as . . . ? Q: (If middle class) Would you say you are . . . ? Worse off than working class (vol.) Working class Middle class Upper middle class Better off than that 2% 36 45 11 3

Source: ABC News/Washington Post, February–March 2010.

Struggling to remain in the middle class Comfortable in it Moving up beyond it

41% 52 6

Q: Over the past twelve months, has there . . . ? Been a time when you or someone in your household has been without a job or looking for work March 2010 54% February 2009 39
Source: PSRA/Pew Research Center, latest that of March 2010.

Q: Thinking now about job opportunities where you live, would you say . . . ? Plenty of jobs available where you live March 2010 February 2009 11% 10

Source: PSRA/Pew Research Center, latest that of March 2010.

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Taxing Times
From 1993 to 2004, in 16 askings of the question, the Republican Party had an advantage over the Democratic Party in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal question as the party that would do a better job dealing with taxes. We show here the responses to the question since November 2005, when the Democrats led the Republicans for the first time. The Republican Party has now regained its edge. Nearly six in ten now say their taxes will go up under the Obama administration. In January 2009, half expected them to stay the same. There is a chasm in the preferences of self-identified Democrats and Republicans on what should be done about taxes.
Q: When it comes to dealing with taxes, which party do you think would do a better job . . . ? Dealing with taxes

10 8 6 4 2 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10 12
Democratic Party Republican Party

D+10

D+9

D+9 D+5 D+1 D–7 D–11

2005 40% 30

2006 35% 26

2007 36% 27

2008 36% 31

2008* 37% 36

2009 28% 35

2010 25% 36

Note: In a December 2009 bipartisan Battleground poll, 55 percent said the Republicans in Congress would better handle the issue of “holding taxes down,” and 28 percent the Democrats in Congress. *Asked of registered voters. Source: NBC News/Wall Street Journal, latest that of March 2010.

Q: Under the Obama administration, do you think your taxes will go up or down, or do you think they will stay about the same? Jan. 2010 Jan. 2009 Up 59% 35% Down 5 13 Stay about the same 35 50
Source: Gfk/Roper, latest that of January 2010.

Q: I’d like to ask you some questions about priorities for President Obama and Congress this year. As I read from a list, tell me if you think the item that I read should be a . . . ? Top priority for the President and Congress Strengthening the nation’s economy Reducing federal income taxes for the middle class
Source: PSRA/Pew Research Center, January 2010.

83% (top priority of 21 examined) 42 (17 of 21)
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Q: Which statement comes closest to your view? —–––—–——Responses of——–––——— National Federal income taxes should be cut for everyone, regardless of income Federal income taxes should be cut for all except families earning more than $250,000 per year Given the federal deficit and the cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the federal government can’t afford any income tax cuts
Source: Zogby International, February 2010.

Democrats 38% 6%

Republicans Independents 76% 44%

25

41

12

19

30

47

9

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The Environment and Global Warming
Americans are less worried about most environmental problems than they were two decades ago, and most see environment improvements. Around eight in ten say they feel they understand global warming well or fairly well, up from 53 percent in 1992. Today, although people believe that global warming is real, they are more likely than in the past to think its seriousness is exaggerated.
Q: Thinking about the issue of global warming, how well do you feel you understand this issue—would you say you . . . ? Mar. 2010 Understand global warming very well/Fairly well Not very well Not at all 82% 15 3 Jan. 1992 53% 22 22 Q: Which of the following statements reflects your views on when the effects of global warming will begin to happen . . . ? Mar. 2010 Already begun/Within a few years 53% Within your lifetime 10 Not within lifetime, but affect future 16 Will never happen 19 Nov. 1997 51% 14 19 9

Source: The Gallup Organization, latest that of March 2010.

Source: The Gallup Organization, latest that of March 2010.

Q: Do you think . . . ? Global warming will pose a serious threat to you or your way of life in your lifetime 32% 25

Q: Do you believe that . . . ? New environmental and energy laws designed to reduce global warming Definitely/Probably hurt the economy No effect Probably/definitely will help the economy
Source: The Gallup Organization, March 2010.

Mar. 2010 Nov. 1997*

49% 18 30

Note: *Asked of a half sample. Source: The Gallup Organization, latest that of March 2010.

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Q: Thinking about what is said in the news, in your view is the seriousness of global warming . . . ? Global warming is . . . Generally underestimated Generally exaggerated

Generally correct

Source: The Gallup Organization, latest that of March 2010.

Global warming is generally exaggerated ——-Party——2010 2008 66% 59% 25 18 52 33 —- Ideology—2010 2008 67% 51% 26 13 40 34 ——-Age——2010 2008 36% 31% 53 36 47 37 52 33

Republicans Democrats Independents

Conservatives Liberals Moderates

18–29 30–49 50–64 65+

Q: I’m going to read you a list of environmental problems. As I read each one, please tell me if you personally worry about . . . ? ——Worry a—— Great Fair deal amount Quality of the environment 2010 2001 Pollution of drinking water 2010 1990 Pollution of rivers, lakes, and reservoirs 2010 1989 Maintenance of the nation’s supply of freshwater for household needs 2010 2000 Contamination of soil and water by toxic waste 2010 1989 Air pollution 34% 42 50 65 46 72 34% 35 27 22 32 19 The loss of tropical rain forests 2010 1989 Extinction of plant and animal species 2010 2000 Global warming 45 42 30 31 2010 1989 28 35 24 28 31 45 30 33 33 42 33 25 2010 1989 38% 63 32% 24 ——Worry a—— Great Fair deal amount

Source: The Gallup Organization, latest that of March 2010.

44 69

33 21

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Q: What do you think . . . ? Is the most important problem facing this country today Unemployment/jobs 31% (top response) Environment/pollution 2 Global warming *
Note: * indicates less than 1 percent. Source: The Gallup Organization, March 2010.

Q: I’d like to ask you some questions about priorities for President Obama and Congress this year. As I read from a list, tell me if you think the item that I read should be a . . . ? Top priority for the President and Congress Strengthening the nation’s economy Dealing with global warming 83% (top priority of 21 examined) (21 of 21)

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Note: “Dealing with the U.S. energy problem” was mentioned as a top priority by 49 percent. Source: PSRA/Pew Research Center, January 2010.

Q: Do you think . . . ? Handling protecting the nation’s environment Barack Obama is doing a good job A poor job
Source: The Gallup Organization, March 2010.

52% 33

Improving the nation’s energy policy 43% 44

Q: Would you . . . ? Feb. 2010 Favor the government promoting the increased use of nuclear power Oppose 52% 41 Sept. 2005 39% 53

Note: In an early March Gallup poll, 62 percent said they favored “the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide electricity for the U.S.” This is the highest percentage recorded on this question since it was first asked in 1994. Source: PSRA/Pew Research Center, latest that of February 2010.

Power Projections
Q: Just your best guess, in terms of the dominant role in ____, do you think the 21st century will be more of an . . . ? Twenty-first century will be more of an American century 38% 40 Chinese century 43% 41 Q: Do you think . . . ? The United States is No. 1 in the world militarily Only one of several leading military powers
Source: The Gallup Organization, January 2010.

64% 34

In world affairs

Q: In 20 years, do you think . . . ? The United States will be No. 1 in the world militarily 36% Only one of the several leading military powers 56 Not among the leading military powers in the world 6
Source: The Gallup Organization, January 2010.

In the world economy

Note: Question asked of a half sample. Source: ABC News/Washington Post, February 2010.

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Keeping an Eye on Iran
Q: Do you think . . . ? Iran currently has nuclear weapons Does not
Source: CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, February 2010.

71% 26

Q: What do you think the United States should do to get Iran to shut down its nuclear program . . . ? Feb. 2010 Take military action against Iran now Use economic and diplomatic efforts but do not take military action right now Take no action against Iran at this time 23% 63 12 Apr. 2006 13% 63 21

Source: CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, latest that of February 2010.

Q: I’d like your overall opinion of some foreign countries. What is your overall opinion of . . . ? Favorable opinion of Iran Unfavorable
Source: The Gallup Organization, February 2010.

10% (21 out of 21 countries) 85%

Time to End the Cuban Embargo?
Q: How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements? Agree It is too soon for normal relations to be restored with Cuba The embargo towards Cuba should remain in effect Now that Fidel Castro is no longer in power, Cuba has changed for the better If possible, I would like to visit Cuba
Source: Harris Interactive online survey, January 2010.

Disagree 44% 40 39 38 38% 36 29 49

Advancing in Afghanistan?
Q: Do you think . . . ? U.S. is doing the right thing in fighting the war in Afghanistan U.S. should not be involved 55% 37

Note: Seventy-two percent of Republicans, 57 percent of independents, and 38 percent of Democrats answered “right thing.” Source: Quinnipiac, March 2010.

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Poll Potpourri Job Joy
Q: Would you say that . . . ? Your job is the ideal job for you < $12,000* 57 $120,000 or more 77 No, it’s not ideal 70% Q: Now I’m going to read you a list of items, and I’d like you to rate your feelings for each one. Would you say you are . . . ? Fed up/tired of Partisan bickering in Washington 82% The growing federal budget deficit 81 Government spending 73 The health reform debate 67 Poor customer service 57 People having loud cell phone conversations 53 Snowstorms 36 Your job 9
Source: Fox News/Opinion Dynamics, February 2010.

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Note: * = household income. Source: The Gallup Organization, January 2010.

Parent Traps
Q: Please tell me at what age you think . . . ? Parent’s response: Activities appropriate only after age 17 Have a glass of beer or wine with the family at dinner or a special event Have their own limited-balance credit card linked to a parent’s account Attend a party where there will be no adults supervising For a girl to stay out past 11 p.m. with friends, without adult supervision For a boy to stay out past 11 p.m. with friends, without adult supervision Have their own social networking account, such as on Myspace or Facebook Use the internet unsupervised See an R-rated movie with a parent For a girl to go on an unsupervised date Hang out at the mall without adult supervision At what age would you talk to your child about financial problems you may be having 76% 71 69 54 49 43 37 36 28 27 Parent’s response: Activities appropriate only after age 17 For a boy to go on a date unsupervised 22 For a girl to wear make-up regularly 16 Have a cell phone 14 Walk or bike beyond the immediate neighborhood without adult supervision 11 For a girl to get her ears pierced 10 Get a part-time job 6 For a boy, at what age do you think it’s appropriate to have a comprehensive talk about sex 5 For a girl, at what age do you think it’s appropriate to have a comprehensive talk about sex 5
Note: Asked of parents only. Source: ABC News/Good Morning America, February 2010.

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