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The Elusive 90% Solution. Which issues do 90% of the public agree on?
Pew Research ^ | 03/13/2011

Posted on 03/13/2011 8:53:10 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

These days there appears to be almost nothing that all, or nearly all, Americans can agree on. But this week, fully 90% of the public said that they were hearing mostly bad news about gas prices.

That might seem like a no-brainer given the recent surge in gas prices. But reaching the 90% threshold is a rare occurrence in public opinion surveys. In part, this reflects the tendency of polling organizations to focus on current issues about which there are often considerable differences of opinion. Nonetheless, even on issues where one would expect to find near-total agreement, the public's views are far from unanimous.

Shortly after the economic crisis hit, for instance, economic perceptions turned overwhelmingly negative. Even so, the public differed over how bad things had gotten. By February 2009, virtually no one (4%) said economic conditions were good. But while 71% rated conditions as "poor," nearly a quarter (24%) said they were "only fair."

It is highly unusual when even 80% support (or oppose) a politician or a policy. George W. Bush's job approval briefly passed 80% in the months after 9/11. So too did Bush's father's shortly after the first Iraq war. Bill Clinton's ratings never broke 80% (they reached 71% twice in 1998) while Barack Obama's have never reached 70%.

Yet there are some opinions that 90% of the public, or close to it, shares -- including a belief that citizens have a duty to vote, an admiration for those who get rich through hard work, a strong sense of patriotism and a belief that society should give everyone an equal opportunity to succeed. Pew Research's political values surveys have shown that these attitudes have remained remarkably consistent over time. (Pew Research has been tracking political values for more than two decades; for the most recent political values survey in 2009, click here.)

The proportion saying they are very patriotic has varied by just four percentage points (between 87% to 91%) across 13 surveys conducted over 22 years. Similarly, in May 1987, 90% agreed with the statement: "Our society should do what is necessary to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed." This percentage has remained at about 90% ever since (87% in the most recent political values survey).

Some of these opinions appear to conflict with other widely-shared attitudes. Nine-in-ten have consistently said that it is best for the United States to be active in world affairs. But in the same series of surveys, large majorities also have agreed that "we should pay less attention to problems overseas and concentrate on problems here at home."

And some sentiments might be considered wishful thinking. Just because nearly all Americans say it is their duty to vote does not mean they always make it to the polls. Voter turnout falls well short of 90%; in last year's midterm election, only about 40% of eligible adults actually voted.

Changes over Time

Attitudes about equal opportunity for all, a citizen's duty to always vote, patriotism and the other statements described above have changed little over time. On other statements, 90% (or nearly that number) agreed at one time, but no longer.

These statements are hardly controversial, yet they draw less overwhelming agreement now than in the past. In June 1992, 90% agreed that "there needs to be stricter laws and regulations to protect the environment." But that percentage slipped to 82% two years later and stood at 83% in the most recent political values survey in 2009.

The vast majority of Americans continue to express an unshakeable belief in God. But the percentage saying they never doubt God's existence, which remained rock solid at about 88% from 1987 through 2002, declined a bit to 83% in 2007 and 2009.

There has been a larger decline in the percentage of Americans agreeing that they have "old-fashioned values about family and marriage." In the 2009 political values survey, 71% agreed, down from 87% in the first such survey in 1987.

A Candidate for 90%

When Pew Research political values surveys began nearly a quarter-century ago, it was inconceivable that anywhere near 90% of Americans would accept interracial dating. But the proportion agreeing that "it's all right for blacks and whites to date each other" has increased from 48% in 1987 to 70% in 1997 and 83% in 2007.

That figure held steady at 83% between 2007 and 2009. But there is a possibility that public acceptance of interracial dating could increase further because, as we pointed out in the 2009 report, "long-term trends in opinions about interracial dating show the strongest support among the youngest age groups." In 2009, 93% of those younger than age 30 - -and 85% of those ages 30 to 49 -- endorsed interracial dating. This suggests that in the not-too-distant future, an issue that once evenly divided the public may be accepted by nearly all Americans.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: agreement; issues

1 posted on 03/13/2011 8:53:14 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Daylight Savings sucks.....108%


2 posted on 03/13/2011 8:54:40 AM PDT by Texas Eagle (If it wasn't for double-standards, Liberals would have no standards at all -- Texas Eagle)
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To: Texas Eagle

The Second Amendment MEANS what it SAYS-! Constitutional Carry Nationwide-!!! 100%


3 posted on 03/13/2011 8:59:55 AM PDT by imjimbo (The constitution SHOULD be our "gun permit")
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To: SeekAndFind

“If a woman is having a late-term abortion and the baby is born alive, that baby becomes a citizen of the United States and is entitled to his full rights under the Constitution, especially the right to life. Doctors and medical staff should give that child full medical attention in an attempt to keep him alive.”

Agree: 99.999%
Disagree: Barack Obama


4 posted on 03/13/2011 9:00:15 AM PDT by TruthShallSetYouFree (Obamacare: Not just dreck. Unconstitutional dreck.)
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To: SeekAndFind

90% of the electorate wants the government to find some gold-crapping unicorns so we can have no taxes and free everything.


5 posted on 03/13/2011 9:00:51 AM PDT by Notary Sojac (When you buy stocks, you're betting on Bernanke)
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To: SeekAndFind

90% believe that people have a duty to vote because the socialists have been pushing this meme. I believe only those with a solid understand of the issues and economics, and our Constitution, government, and history have a duty to vote. The ignorant have a duty not to vote.


6 posted on 03/13/2011 9:03:42 AM PDT by KansasGirl
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To: SeekAndFind

The farther from the constitution we move, the less patriotic I feel.


7 posted on 03/13/2011 9:09:26 AM PDT by andyk (Wealth != Income)
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To: SeekAndFind

Pew SUcks....on that we can agree...


8 posted on 03/13/2011 9:11:20 AM PDT by goodnesswins (Unlike the West, the Islamic world is serious.)
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To: SeekAndFind
"There has been a larger decline in the percentage of Americans agreeing that they have "old-fashioned values about family and marriage." In the 2009 political values survey, 71% agreed, down from 87% in the first such survey in 1987."

A slippery question designed to get the answer the pollster wanted.

If the question had been phrased as "traditional values", the percentage would have been higher. Guaranteed. No one wants to think of him or herself as "old fashioned". The pollster knows this.

9 posted on 03/13/2011 9:13:04 AM PDT by Matchett-PI ("Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Tax " ~ Gagdad Bob)
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To: Texas Eagle
Daylight Savings sucks.

Amen! I used to be a real supporter of DST. I loved coming home after work and still having three to four hours of daylight left. I have moved to Florida now and I hate DST in July August and September when it is hot enough to fry and egg on pavement. Having the sun go down an hour earlier in the evening would be a true blessing. My wish would be for changing the clocks in Spring with the rest of the nation, but returning to Standard time in July.

10 posted on 03/13/2011 9:18:29 AM PDT by REPANDPROUDOFIT (General, sir, it is perfectly ok to call me "ma'am"!)
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To: SeekAndFind

What can 90% of people agree on?

That everybody that they pass on the freeway is a moron and everybody that passes them is a maniac.


11 posted on 03/13/2011 9:28:35 AM PDT by macquire
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To: SeekAndFind
90% of the public said that they were hearing mostly bad news about gas prices

That says a lot about those other 10%.

12 posted on 03/13/2011 9:30:08 AM PDT by bgill (Kenyan Parliament - how could a man born in Kenya who is not even a native American become the POTUS)
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To: REPANDPROUDOFIT

I vote for moving April to right after July. It would be a relief from the hot summer.


13 posted on 03/13/2011 9:32:37 AM PDT by bgill (Kenyan Parliament - how could a man born in Kenya who is not even a native American become the POTUS)
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To: Matchett-PI

good observation


14 posted on 03/13/2011 9:32:54 AM PDT by Outlaw Woman
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To: Texas Eagle
"Daylight Savings sucks"

I STRONGLY agree!!!! .....grrr dammit...

15 posted on 03/13/2011 9:33:47 AM PDT by KoRn (Department of Homeland Security, Certified - "Right Wing Extremist")
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To: Texas Eagle

Yeah! My wife and I had forgotten about the time change. It was really irritating to see we had already lost an hour when we awakened. But - in actuality it makes not much difference since we live on a farm and are retired (except when we have those damned medical appointments). We live in a part of Texas where people don’t seem to use clocks anyhow. They seem to work two hours a day - if at all. Last year we had some work done on our house. The contractor said it would take 8 weeks and it ended up taking 8 months (sarc) but he would drive 30 miles and work 2 or 3 hours and be gone. No wonder the rate of unemployment in this county is probably 30%.


16 posted on 03/13/2011 9:46:11 AM PDT by Jukeman
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To: SeekAndFind

If we agree on all this stuff, why is there a need for an Institute of Civility? Strictly sarcasm!


17 posted on 03/13/2011 9:52:37 AM PDT by Jukeman
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To: Notary Sojac

How did you know I crap gold? That was supposed to be a secret. I pee champagne, too.


18 posted on 03/13/2011 10:13:40 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: REPANDPROUDOFIT
Amen! I used to be a real supporter of DST. I loved coming home after work and still having three to four hours of daylight left. I have moved to Florida now and I hate DST in July August and September when it is hot enough to fry and egg on pavement. Having the sun go down an hour earlier in the evening would be a true blessing. My wish would be for changing the clocks in Spring with the rest of the nation, but returning to Standard time in July.


My theory for why we have no DST in Arizona.

Cooler evenings come quicker, and if anyone wants to work in the cooler part of the day, they get up early with plenty of daylight before work...:^)

I like the Arizona system...

19 posted on 03/13/2011 10:22:27 AM PDT by az_gila
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To: REPANDPROUDOFIT
You appear to overlook the fact that Florida is considerably more to the West than New York or Boston in the same time zone.
20 posted on 03/13/2011 10:27:43 AM PDT by TopQuark
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To: SeekAndFind; AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...

Thanks SeekAndFind. Related:
21 posted on 03/13/2011 10:31:56 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: Texas Eagle

Amen, brother. Shout it out.


22 posted on 03/13/2011 11:12:23 AM PDT by TheOldLady
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To: SeekAndFind

Over 90% issues:

1. I need air to live.

2. I need water to live.

3. I prefer not being in a natural disaster.

4. I would not enjoy losing my sight.

5. I want all my internal organs to keep working.

6. I prefer not to die at this moment.

7. Every day I wake up and go to sleep is a good day.

8. I do not want my house destroyed.

9. I would rather not be burned, scalded, or torn apart.

10. I do not want Charlie Sheen to visit me right now.


23 posted on 03/13/2011 12:31:07 PM PDT by Secret Agent Man (I'd like to tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.)
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