Skip to comments.The Elusive 90% Solution. Which issues do 90% of the public agree on?
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.
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.
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.
Daylight Savings sucks.....108%
The Second Amendment MEANS what it SAYS-! Constitutional Carry Nationwide-!!! 100%
“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.”
Disagree: Barack Obama
90% of the electorate wants the government to find some gold-crapping unicorns so we can have no taxes and free everything.
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.
The farther from the constitution we move, the less patriotic I feel.
Pew SUcks....on that we can agree...
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.
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.
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.
That says a lot about those other 10%.
I vote for moving April to right after July. It would be a relief from the hot summer.
I STRONGLY agree!!!! .....grrr dammit...
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%.
If we agree on all this stuff, why is there a need for an Institute of Civility? Strictly sarcasm!
How did you know I crap gold? That was supposed to be a secret. I pee champagne, too.
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...