Issues and Attitudes

Dec. 1, 2915 — The results of a new exhaustive national survey were released over the Thanksgiving Day holiday break providing some thought-provoking conclusions.

The YouGov international polling organization in conjunction with London’s The Economist newspaper conducted the major American electorate Internet-based poll (Nov. 19-23; 2,000 adult respondents) containing 100 questions, the answers to which were quickly released and reported upon. (An additional 21 questions were asked according to the analysis, but not included in the report.)

Many of the questions provided an interesting snapshot into how a large segment of the American public is presently thinking. The responses pertaining to candidate ballot tests and individual approval ratings, however, are not of particular significance because the sample contains only 71 percent registered voters. Therefore, they will not be discussed here.

When asked about the one most important issue to each individual respondent, 16 percent said the economy, another 16 percent said terrorism, and 15 percent said Social Security. While a majority (54 percent) do not believe a government shutdown will occur, 31 percent said that Republicans in Congress would be to blame if one were to happen. But, an almost equal 30 percent would attest such responsibility to President Obama. An additional 26 percent said both would be accountable. This is a much different outlook than would be cast from the national media, which would heavily focus upon Republicans as the motivating force to cease operating some government services in order to achieve certain policy objectives.

Republicans have an advantage pertaining to national security. By a ratio of 33:22 percent, the respondents believe a Republican president would be “stronger on national security”. An additional 36 percent said it depends upon which individual is president. Corresponding questions related to the economy were either not asked or at least not discussed in the analysis.

While Republicans did well in the national security sphere, Democrats were better viewed overall. Forty-two percent have a very or somewhat favorable view of the Democratic Party as compared to only 33 percent who hold a similar opinion of the Republican Party. Surprisingly, however, on the generic ballot test relating to whether the respondents would vote for a Democrat or Republican for president, it was the GOP tallying a one-point edge, 41-40 percent.

In testing attitudes about Muslims, respondents said they believe that ISIS (89 percent), Al Qaeda (79 percent) and Iran (66 percent) are immediate or somewhat serious threats to the United States; only 49 percent believe similarly about Muslims. Additionally, 30 percent of the sampling group said that “more than half” to “all” Muslims support ISIS, while the remaining 70 percent do not share such a view.

By a margin of 41-34 percent the sample supported arming “moderate groups to fight ISIS”. A 74:14 percent ratio would support air strikes against ISIS, while a bare plurality (40-39%) would actually back American ground troops being sent to battle the enemy forces.

Turning to the Syrian refugee situation, a majority 56 percent of the sample believes that the country’s Christian refugees should be admitted to the United States. The margin reverses itself when Muslim Syrian refugees become the subject. The same sampling group would reject Muslim Syrians from being admitted by a ratio of 38-62 percent. Meanwhile, a full 67 percent believe all refugees should be subject to more thorough security screenings than are presently being conducted.

When it comes to government spending, the respondents seemed to perform in accordance with Congress. When asked whether they would increase government spending (either a little or a lot) in certain issue areas, a majority said they would do so for highways, infrastructure, healthcare, education, protecting the border, and military bases. The only issue area drawing majority support for a spending reduction was foreign aid.

As is usually the case, we can expect the candidates of both parties to begin framing their policy positions to reflect the discernible majority of public opinion when research suggests such responses will occur over the long term.

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