Posts made in December 2017

50% of Minnesotans do not want Franken to be ousted

December 30, 2017

Fully 50% of Minnesota voters now think that Democratic Senator Al Franken should not resign for sexual misconduct, compared with 42% who are ready to say goodbye, based on results of a survey of 671 state voters conducted by Public Policy Polling released on December 28. The research, conducted during the same week, was done on behalf of Strategic Consulting Group.

Interesting enough, Franken’s continued popularity is being driven especially by women—57% of whom like the job he’s doing (compared to 37% who don’t). By contrast Donald Trump stands at 40/58 with women in the state.

There is little appetite among Democratic voters at the state level for Franken to go, the pollsters say, with 71% of voters of his own party opposing his departure. A majority of Independents (52%) also think he should not resign, with just 41% favoring his exit.

Franken remains well above-average in popularity for a Senator,the researchers say—with 53% of voters approving of the job he’s doing, as opposed to 42% who say they disapprove.

Survey respondents said they do not like how the process with Franken’s resignation has played out. Sixty percent—including 79% of Democrats and 61% of Independents— told PPP that they think the Senate Ethics Committee should have completed its investigation  before any decision was made about Franken’s future, while only 35% think he should resign immediately.

Beyond that 76% of Minnesota voters think their voices should have been more important in determining whether Franken stayed in the Senate or not, as opposed to only 12% who think that should have been determined more by his fellow Senators in Washington.

Research contact:

Democrats gain strength for 2018 midterms

December 29, 2017

Democrats have a distinct advantage over Republicans in a hypothetical Congressional 2018 midterm matchup, based on findings of a CNN poll conducted by SSRS and released on December 20. .

Concurrently, the news network says, enthusiasm about voting next year is increasing among Democrats nationwide following an unexpected win in Alabama’s Senate special election last month and a strong showing in Virginia’s state government elections.

Among registered voters nationwide, 56% say they favor a Democrat in their congressional district, while 38% prefer a Republican. That 18-point edge represents the largest advantage that Democrats have held, according to CNN polling on the 2018 contests—and the largest at this point in midterm election cycles dating back two decades.

The CNN finding follows several other public polls showing large double-digit leads for Democrats on similar questions.

What’s more, Independent voters favor Democrats by a 16-point margin, 51% to 35%—similar to the 50% to 36% margin by which they favored Democrats in fall of 2005, before the party recaptured the House and Senate in 2006.

The Democrats hold a larger lead overall now because Republicans make up a smaller share of the electorate than they did in 2005, according to a Gallup Poll finding earlier this month. Indeed, only 38% of Americans now self-identified as Republican or Republican-leaning Independents during 2017, based on an average of monthly numbers from Gallup.

And those Republicans who are still in the electorate are less enthusiastic about voting next year than are the Democrats. Overall, 49% of registered voters who self-identify as Democratic or Democratic-leaning Independents say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for Congress next year, compared with 32% of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independent voters who say the same.

The GOP may be further disadvantaged by a public displeased and angry with the way the country is being governed under their control. Overall, 68% say they are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed, and a matching 68% say they are angry about the way things are going in the country today. Among Democrats, satisfaction has fallen from 40% to 6%. Anger, too, has switched sides, with half of Democrats now saying they are “very angry” about the way things are going, up from 14% in 2015. Among Republicans, deep anger has dipped from 41% in 2015 to 10% now.

The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS between December 14 and December 17 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer.

Research contact:

Only 4% of U.S. small businesses are exporting

December 29, 2017

Only 3.9% of the 6 million small businesses in the United States are exporting goods today, as opposed to 8% of European companies of similar size, based on data released by London-based financial services company World First.

With more than 70% of the world’s purchasing power, foreign markets offer lucrative opportunities for businesses to thrive. The total value of worldwide B2C cross-border ecommerce is expected to reach $424 billion by 2021, the same source reports.

The advantage of doing business in foreign markets has been well-established: Indeed, U.S. companies selling internationally are 8.5% less likely to go out of business, Small Business Trends reports.

For small businesses, ecommerce is a relatively simple and inexpensive way to reach customers worldwide. Fully 66% of consumers make ecommerce purchases from sites outside their home countries, World First notes.

However, many small business still are ill-equipped to take advantage of the international markets:  28% of them have no websites for ecommerce.

Research contact:

The all-time most funky and freaky Gallup polls

December 29, 2017

The Gallup Poll has been grinding out useful data since it was founded in 1935 in Princeton, New Jersey, as the American Institute of Public Opinion. Recently, the website, Mental Floss, compiled a list of five of the most far-out and flaky Gallup polls from over the years.

  1. Three in four Americans believe in the paranormal (2005) About three out of four Americans professed to at least one paranormal belief in 2005, the pollsters said—with ESP the most popular by a few percentage points, at 41%; followed closely by a conviction in the existence of haunted houses (37%). And, for those who believed in haunted houses, it was no stretch to accept that ghosts can come back in certain situations or places (32%). In addition, at that time, 26% believed in clairvoyance—or the power to predict the future and access the past—and 25% believed in astrology. What about channeling spirits, you might ask? Only 9% of Americans said that it is possible to channel a spirit so that it takes temporary control of one’s body. Interestingly enough, belief in paranormal phenomena was relatively similar across people of different genders, races, ages, and education levels.
  2. 20% of Americans think the Sun revolves around the Earth (1999) In this poll, Gallup tried to gauge the general knowledge levels of Americans. While 79% percent of respondents correctly stated that the Earth revolves around the Sun, 18% percent thought the opposite. Three percent said they had no opinion either way.
  3. 22% of Americans would hesitate to support a Mormon (2011) Gallup first measured anti-Mormon sentiments back in 1967, and it was still an issue in 2011 — a year before Mormon Mitt Romney ran for president on the GOP ticket. About 22% of respondents said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, even if that candidate belonged to their preferred political party.
  4. Mississippians go to church the most; Vermonters, the least (2010) This poll  stereotype that southerners are more religious than the rest of the nation. Although 42% of all Americans attended church regularly (which Gallup defined as weekly or almost weekly), there were large variations based on geography. For example, 63% of Mississippi residents attended church regularly, followed by 58% of Alabama residents; and 56% percent of the population in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Utah. Conversely, in Vermont, just 23% of residents said they attended church regularly; with New Hampshire at 26% and Maine at 27%.
  5. One in four Americans does not know from which country America gained its independence (1999) Although 76% of Americans knew that the United States gained its independence from Great Britain, 24% were not so sure. Two percent thought the correct answer was France; 3% named a different country (such as Mexico, China, or Russia), and 19% had no opinion.

Research contact:

Leonard and Penny of ‘Big Bang’ are most desirable celebrity neighbors

December 28, 2017

While the devout may strive to “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” many of us are more likely to view the people next door with a bit more sang-froid. In fact, according to results of a survey conducted by the UK’s Daily Mail, 60% of Britons do not get on with one or more of their neighbors, while 30% have a poor relationship with at least two of them.

And the feelings are most often out in the open: Half of respondents to the newspaper’s survey said they would look the other way if they bumped into their next-door neighbors; while 10% would give them a “frosty look.”

Reasons for the lack of rapport range from the slight to the scary—among them, adjoining families who are noisy, nosy, territorial, messy, rude, or just plain bonkers.

So, who would you choose for a neighbor, if that were a possibility? Those of us across the pond in the USA were asked that question by online realtor Zillow—as part of the 11th Annual Zillow Celebrity Neighbor Survey and the results released on December 27 find that Americans would most want to live across the hall or across the street from Leonard and Penny Hofstadter of CBS’s  The Big Bang Theory. Earning 19% of adults’ votes nationwide, the couple was described affectionately by viewers of different genders, generations, and educational levels—but was slightly less population among voters from the West, earning just 16% of their votes.

The Dunphys from ABC’s Modern Family and the Simpsons, from the Fox animated hit series, tied for the second most-desirable neighbors, with 11% of the votes each.

Will and Grace from NBC’s newly revitalized sitcom of the same name rounded out the top four rankings, earning just 10% of the votes; followed by Jack and Rebecca Pearson from NBC’s This is Us (9%) and the Johnsons from ABC’s Black-ish (5%).

Interesting enough, The Simpsons also topped the list of the least-desirable neighbors from television, with 31% of the votes. Adults over the age of 55 were most likely to name the family as the neighbors from hell (at 38%), while only 24% percent of Millennials cited them as the least desirable neighbors in the poll.

The Lannisters from HBO’s Game of Thrones came in second on that list, with 21% of the votes, ranking much higher than the rest of the competitors.

Although Leonard and Penny made it to the more desirable list, Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler from The Big Bang Theory received 9% of respondent’s votes for neighbors to be avoided at all costs. Olivia Pope from ABC’s garnered 5%.

“The Big Bang Theory is one of the most popular shows on television, so it is not surprising that American adults chose its leading couple as the most desirable neighbors for 2018,” said Jeremy Wacksman, chief marketing officer at Zillow. “On the other hand, it wouldn’t be easy to live next to the Simpsons, who have spent nearly 30 seasons causing chaos for neighbor Ned Flanders and the rest of Springfield. However, as the stars of one of TV’s longest-running shows, The Simpsons are certainly beloved by some: They also tied for second on the most desirable neighbor list.”

Thirty-five percent of surveyed adults said they would not want to live next to any of the characters listed in the poll.

Research contact: @wacksman

Americans are almost evenly split on moving embassy to Jerusalem

December 28, 2017

It’s the promised land—but promised to whom? While 66% of the 1,500 U.S. adults who responded to a mid-December Economist/YouGov Poll describe Israel as a friend or ally; they are less sure about its leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In addition, there is no national consensus on U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to break with precedent, formally recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli state’s capital and begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy there, the researchers found.

On the one hand, Republicans favor moving the embassy, which would set the United States apart from its allies who have maintained they would keep their embassies in Tel Aviv, where the U.S. embassy currently is based. On the other hand, Democrats don’t. The country is split among those who strongly approve of the move (24%)—and those who strongly disapprove (26%).

What’s more, moving the embassy to Jerusalem appeals to those who are extremely religious, especially to those within the Republican Party. Nearly 90% of Republicans who describe religion as very important in their lives approve of moving the embassy.  Among Democrats and independents, religion makes relatively little difference in opinion on this question.

Just 35% approve of the way President Trump is handling Israel—with 17% strongly approving and 18% somewhat approving.

However, the majority believe that it is very important (38%) or somewhat important (25%) to protect Israel. In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, sympathies are divided, with 33% for the Israelis, 29% saying their allegiances are “about equal,” 8% for the Palestinians, and 30% not sure.

Finally, many Americans aren’t sure what to think of Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu—however, those who have an opinion generally are positive—with 33% favorable and 24% unfavorable.

Research contact:

When work calls, drivers answer

December 28, 2017

If you commute to work by car, you likely have seen drivers doing the outrageous behind the wheel—from shaving to applying lipstick, to eating breakfast to texting. Most people know they should tune out distractions while they are driving, but overestimate their ability to operate their vehicles and multitask. However, what happens when the worst interruptions—calls, texts and emails—are coming from the boss?

About 50% of people ages 18 to 44 say they answer or conduct work-related communications while driving, according to a recent survey commissioned by Travelers, and covered by the Hartford Courant on December 27.

And of Millennials who use their phones for work-related communications while driving, 25% said that they do so because they don’t want to upset their bosses, according to the Harris Poll of more than 1,000 U.S. employees who drive for work.

Older workers are not immune to the dangerous behavior. About one-third of employees between ages 45 and 64 said they answer or conduct work-related communications while driving.

Travelers released the Risk Index this week as it announced its public policy arm, the Travelers Institute, would be holding community meetings across the country to try to raise awareness of the dangers and pressures of distracted driving.

“Distracted driving is a contributing factor and it’s a problem that won’t go away without understanding its causes and promoting behavioral changes,” Travelers Institute President Joan Woodward said. “Whether drivers are texting, eating or talking on the phone, taking their eyes off the road for even one second can cause a potentially life-changing crash.”

Research contact:

Tax bill hits too close to home for most Americans

December 27, 2017

Republicans may be taxing Americans out of house and home: Of 2,300 people polled on behalf of after the U.S. Congress passed a radical rewrite of the nation’s tax laws on December 20, more than half said they are now either “concerned” or “very concerned” about being a homeowner.

Specifically, the tax overhaul measure limits interest deductions to the first $750,000 in new mortgage debt for married taxpayers filing jointly—down from the current cap of $1 million, Bloomberg reports. It also doubles the standard deduction, making it less likely for homeowners to itemize tax returns and deduct mortgage interest.

While costs are rising, about 23% of respondents said the tax bill wouldn’t change their plans to purchase, and about 57% said it would have no effect on their plans to sell.

Research contact:

Nurses keep healthy lead as most honest, ethical U.S. professionals

December 27, 2017

Americans have a healthy respect for nurses. In fact, for the 16th consecutive year, nurses have been rated number one by U.S. adults nationwide for honesty and ethical standards out of a list of 22 occupations, based on results of a recent Gallup poll.

A strong majority—82%—of Americans describe nurses’ ethics as “very high” or “high.” By contrast, about 60% Americans rate members of Congress (60%) and lobbyists (58%) as “very low” or “low” when it comes to honesty and ethical standards.

Overall, a majority of respondents to the poll in early December rated six professions as “high” or “very high” for honesty and ethical standards. In addition to nurses, that list includes military officers, grade school teachers, medical doctors, police officers and pharmacists.

In addition to members of Congress and lobbyists, others who rated low on the list included car sales people, advertisers, business executives and lawyers.

Interestingly enough, the honesty rating of pharmacists—while it still registers high on an absolute basis—has dropped five points since last year and is at its lowest point since 1994, possibly reflecting the current nationwide opioid crisis.

Those who garnered majority “average” marks included bankers and auto mechanics.

The public is divided between positive and average honesty rankings for both judges and members of the clergy — two occupations that are expected to  exhibit the utmost honesty and ethical standards.

Gallup has measured Americans’ views on the honesty and ethics of the clergy 33 times dating back to 1977. Although the overall average positive rating is 55%, it has fallen below that level since 2009. This year marks the lowest rating to date, with 42% saying the clergy has “very high” or “high” honesty and ethical standards. The historical high of 67% occurred in 1985.

Views of the honesty and ethics of the clergy dropped precipitously in 2002, Gallup reminds us, amid the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. While positive ratings of the clergy’s honesty and integrity rebounded somewhat in the next few years, they fell to 50% in 2009 and have been steadily declining since then.

Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to rate police officers, military officers, clergy, pharmacists and judges as “very high” or “high” on honesty and ethics, which hasn’t changed much in recent years. Republicans are more conservative and more religious than Democrats which likely contributes to their ethics ratings.

Finally, it is no surprise, Gallup reports, that Democrats consider television and newspaper reporters much more honest and ethical than do Republicans.

Research contact:

44% of Americans approve of cohabitation before wedding

December 27, 2017

“Why buy the cow when the milk is free?” It wasn’t so long ago that mothers preached that point of view to their children—conveying to them that living with a partner before getting married would be counterproductive and immoral. But opinions have changed since the sexual revolution: A poll conducted by YouGov earlier this month found that, in 2017, many, if not most, Americans (44%) say that cohabiting with a partner prior to marriage is “a beneficial relationship practice.”

Indeed, the researchers questioned nearly 8,000 adults nationwide and discovered that 19% think that cohabiting can harm a relationship; 21% think it has no long-term effects on a romance, and 16% were just not sure.

A look at the opinions of men and women reveals that gender differences are narrow. Slightly more men (46%) than women (42%) say that they think that it would help a relationship if a couple moved in together before marriage.

A look at responses by political ideology shows that Republicans think that cohabitation does more harm (35%) than good (31%)—and they’re the only political party to say so. More than half of Democrats (53%) see a benefit in living together before marriage and few (12%) say that it could do any harm.

Americans who live in the West are the likeliest of their regional cohorts to say that premarital cohabitation is beneficial (50%). The Northeast (48%) came in second with this answer; and the Midwest (42%) and South (39%) rounded out the rest of the geographical regions with mild agreement.

The association between living together before marriage and premarital sex makes this a contentious religious issue for many. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of those who live in the South consider themselves religious, while 51% of those in the West say the same.

The idea that marriage and sex is now seen as a secular, rather than religious, phenomenon—in conjunction with dwindling spirituality in younger Americans—might explain, the pollsters said, why Millennials are more enthusiastic about premarital cohabitation than their elders. Over half of Millennials between the ages of 25 and 34 (51%) say they see living together as a benefit to a relationship. The issue might be the most pertinent to this age group, as data shows them as the likeliest age group to say they would get married in the next six months.