It’s been 6 years since our mentor, colleague, and friend’s death. Warren Mitofsky was a clear thinker and major innovator of the public polling community. Beyond his methodological rigor, he communicated long-lasting, yet, simple messages to the profession. His thoughts remain vital through the 2012 election cycle.
Despite this year’s successful scientifically based public polls, the road was rocky, beset by a drum-beat of critics. Yet, Warren’s frequently uttered message, now ably echoed by Joe Lenski, remains a guide. “Believe your numbers!”
If your methods are scientifically sound, and
…you uncover unique results which pin the tag “outlier” on your findings, believe your numbers.
…you have a wider than expected spread in party identification, that brings a cascade of unwarranted criticism about weighting to party, believe your numbers.
…you are labelled a “newcomer” to Florida polling when you have Obama +2 and other long-standing polls have Romney +6, it isn’t a “house effect”. Believe your numbers.
…you detect a changing demography… an increase in minorities… in your likely voter models, it may simply reflect changing demography. Believe your numbers.
…more voters are telling your interviewers that they have already voted than are being reported by state tallying sources, it may reflect a time delay in mailing and recording early votes. Believe your numbers.
And, if you are being hammered for belonging to a conspiracy of pollsters who are cooking numbers and skewing results, stay focused.
Yes, it was “shoot the messenger” time and public pollsters were definitely in season.
Warren also advised us to always, always, always, poll right up to Election Day, even if you opt, to avoid confusion with Election Day exit polls, not to release the poll. Recognizing that campaigns don’t stop when you finish your “final” survey, sometimes a week out, there just might be something to be learned for future elections about the electorate and your likely voter models with this “exercise.”
We forgot his sage advice on the eve of the 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary when Hilary Clinton “upset” Barack Obama. It would have saved us re-calling our respondents all week to ascertain the late movement among women to Clinton.
This year, the initial impact of Hurricane Sandy was picked up in our pre-weekend NBC/WSJ/Marist Polls of FLOHVA — Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. But, was there any late movement on the eve of the election? We decided to invest, as per Warren’s dictum, in one last poll, bringing the grand 13 month total to 53 surveys. Sunday and Monday, we conducted a national survey and found Obama +3 among registered voters and +2 among the likely electorate.
There were many juicy poll nuggets in this survey including information about independent voters, approval ratings, the electorate’s view of the direction of the nation and the economy, minority participation, and where undecided voters were likely to end up. This all provided a context for Tuesday’s official tally and will guide our polls, especially our likely voter models, in future election cycles.
So, Election 2012 is now comfortably in our rear view mirror. Thanks, Warren, for being the lead driver once again.
With Major League Baseball’s opening day less than a month away, the countdown to the regular season has begun. What can baseball fans make of the change in the playoff system? And, who has the best chances of winning this year? Sports journalist and Marist Poll Contributor Len Berman offered his insight when he spoke with the Marist Poll’s John Sparks.
Listen to the interview or read the transcript below.
Len, what do you think about Major League Baseball expanding the playoffs for this season?
I think it’s a good move. I think adding a wild card and diminishing the chances for the wild card to advance, I think that’s all positive. I mean it’s going to create some more excitement down the stretch in September, keep some more teams alive, and those two one game play-ins should be very exciting, so I don’t really have a problem. I mean it makes it look more difficult for them to advance. It certainly puts a better premium on winning the division, something the Yankees didn’t really try to do a couple years ago despite what Joe Girardi claims, so I think generally it’s positive.
So then, it puts more value on getting hot at the end rather than persevering over the long haul?
Well, you know, I think that’s always the case in post season, and that’s always the case in playoffs no matter what the team. Look at football, too. I mean, look at what the Giants have done. No, I don’t think that’s a prob… I mean, yeah, the hot team, my goodness, I mean the St. Louis Cardinals were certainly not picked by anybody last year and certainly didn’t have a wonderful regular season. They got hot at the end, and they carried it through and won the championship, so I don’t think this change in the playoff system alters that philosophy at all.
Let’s take a look at the upcoming season, what do you think about the Yankees for this year?
Well, they’re always a team to be reckoned with because of their resources. I mean, I think the team they put on the field is strong. Things can fall apart. They’ve never had that problem over the years, but, for example, they lost a good relief pitcher in Dave Robertson because he fell down some stairs. Now he might not be ready opening day. I mean, if that’s the beginning of a series of issues that even great teams can fall in the abyss. But, with their resources, if something isn’t working, and they do have the injuries, they have the deep pockets to go out and buy replacements midseason, so you never count out the Yankees ever.
I’m curious, A-Rod bounces back this year and what about Derek Jeter at the tail end of the ride?
Well, those are issues. I mean, these guys are older. I mean Mariano Rivera. I mean, I have a feeling this is his last season. What if he doesn’t have it? Hey, there’s always question marks, which is great. I mean I think people are just penciling in the Yankees for one of those playoff spots. What if they don’t make it? Look at how that opens things up for a lot of other teams. So, yeah, those are valid questions. A-Rod’s age, Jeter’s age, sure, that’s not a real young team. What you find with the teams like the Cardinals, a team that has some young players, all of sudden exceed expectations, and you hope that works out. You like to see that, so maybe there’s a team out there that no one’s considering.
Let’s go over to Queens and talk about the Mets, what do you see for the Mets this year?
Well, it’s just sad that their mantra is: We’re not as bad as people think we are. I mean, that’s a hell of a sales slogan. They’ve got problems, and they’ve got financial problems. And until those financial problems get resolved, things are going to continue the way they are. Having said that, these are Major League players. I mean, Ike Davis is a Major League first baseman. David Wright’s a Major League third baseman. You’ve got some players there. What’s to say that they aren’t this year’s St. Louis Cardinals? It’s not beyond the realm of possibility.
Let’s go around the League and the divisions real quickly. I’m just wondering, American League West. Will Pujols bring Los Angeles a division, and what about the Rangers and Yu Darvish?
Yeah, well I think those are both great questions and I think that’s — it used to be the American League East that was spocked[sic]. Then all of a sudden, you’ve got Texas, which has been in two straight WorldSeries, and they had heartbreaking loss in last year’s Fall Classic, and you’ve got the Angels with Pujols. You know, you always lean on the side of pitching, so maybe Texas by getting Darvish is the bigger get. Certainly possible.
Thinking about pitching, let’s move over to American League Central. Justin Verlander and the Tigers, can anybody beat them?
You know, they look awfully solid. They’re certainly the strong favorites going in, and they’ve certainly become a franchise with deep pockets there, so for anyone to pick against the Tigers, that would be a long shot.
Okay. We talked about the Yankees, but let’s talk about the American League East. Can Bobby Valentine bring the Red Sox back, and what about Tampa Bay or maybe even a long shot for Toronto?
Yeah, I mean I love the East. I’m a huge Bobby Valentine fan. I wish all it took was a manager. I think he’s a great step in the right direction, and he’s going to shake up that clubhouse, and he’s certainly going to make all the games with the Yankees a lot more interesting. He’s just one of the great baseball characters. Do the Red Sox have enough? It doesn’t look like it. Tampa Bay is a solid club. I hope a Toronto or even a Baltimore come out of nowhere. I mean, it’ll be nice, but I think you’re looking at the traditional powers for another year.
Okay, National League East, Phillies again, they picked up Jonathan Pabelbon. Are they best team in baseball really?
Well, if they are, their fans are going to get a little upset that they don’t win it all. After being to the World Series a couple years, they haven’t for a couple years, so I think they’re a hell of a team so… are they the best team in baseball? You could make a case, sure.
National League Central, St. Louis without Pujols. What does that mean for the division?
You know what, I still like St. Louis. I really do. I mean I don’t know where the… Obviously Cincinnati, you always have to look out. Milwaukee, Ryan Braun’s going to have a chip on his shoulder, so that could be a fun — that could be a real fun division. Look for those three teams to mix it up. I don’t… Certainly when you lose Pujols’ bat, it’s going to affect you, but historically teams that have lost a major free agent, it’s for some reason the other players who’ve stepped up, so I’m not going to count them out just yet. But I don’t look for them to repeat, that’s for sure.
You mentioned Braun, what do you think about the steroid thing with him? Did he or didn’t he?
Well, obviously it’s only he and his urine sample know for sure. I mean the odds are that it’s awfully far-fetched to think that a tester tampered with sample A and sample B, so… In 99.999% of the cases, if it’s in their system, it’s in their system. It’s not some kind of fluke. So, if you put a gun to my head, he dodged that bullet for sure.
Moving out West for the National League, the Giants are pretty tough, but what about Don Mattingly and the Dodgers? What do you think is going to happen there?
I don’t know. I mean, I’d love to see — I hope that he doesn’t become a… They still have an ownership situation that’s up in the air. I hope he doesn’t become the odd man out because of that. I love… I’m a big personal fan of Don Mattingly. I don’t know if his team has enough, but the Giants still have some of that pitching. I always look at the pitching as being the strength.
Anything else as we look at the 2012 baseball season?
You know, I think the one story you didn’t bring up is the Miami Marlins. New Name, new stadium, they’ve spent a load, and you want to see if the fans come out. I mean, that’s been a market that still you don’t know about that. They’ve won two World Championships, yet that can’t draw fans. If they can’t do it with this new stadium and Ozzie Guillen and Jose Reyes and the rest of the people down there, then they never will. So I think that’s a big story that you got to a — that I think is going to be one of the big baseball stories of 2012, the Miami Marlins.
Appreciate your time, Len. What’s going on in your life these days?
Well, I’ve got a lot of different things going on. I’m still doing The Today Show once a month with Spanning the World. I’ve started this relationship with Channel 5 in New York where once a week I do my Top Five on Channel 5 which is a spinoff of my daily email which people get at thatssports.com, and I’m very excited about my newest book coming out in the fall for kids. It’s going to be Greatest Moments in Sports, Upsets and Underdogs, and it’s more than a sports book. It’s really going to be empowering for young people to see how anyone can succeed no matter where you come from or what your background is, you have a chance to become a champion, and I think it’s going to open a few eyes. As I very modestly say, “Every young people… Every young person needs to read that book.”
Well, I’m looking forward to reading it also. It’s always a pleasure, Len.
Nearly six in ten Americans younger than 45 years old — 59% — think they are likely to make a New Year’s resolution for 2012. This compares with just 28% of those 45 and older.
When further broken down by age, nearly two-thirds of Americans under 30 years old — 64% — believe they will make a New Year’s resolution. A majority — 55% — of those between 30 and 44 say they will do the same. 37% of residents 45 to 59 years old and 23% of those 60 and older plan to alter an aspect of their life.
Is there a gender gap? Similar proportions of women — 40% — and men — 36% — report they will make a New Year’s resolution going into 2012.
Looking at the population overall, 62% of adults nationally say they don’t plan to make a resolution going into the new year while 38% say they will make a New Year’s resolution.
This is the largest proportion of U.S. residents who say they are not going to make a resolution since 2004. At that time, nearly two-thirds — 65% — reported they were not going to resolve to change.
Last year, a majority — 56% — did not plan to make a resolution while 44% did.
Combating the Battle of the Bulge Tops List of New Year’s Resolutions
Weight loss is the top New Year’s resolution this year. Nearly one in five Americans who are likely to make a resolution — 18% — say they want to drop a few pounds. Exercise — 11% — comes in next followed by spending less money and saving more — 9%. The resolution to stop smoking, which was last year’s top resolution, also received 9% as did the overall goal of being a better person. 44% plan to make some other type of resolution.
Last year, quitting smoking — 17% — and weight loss — 16% — were the most cited resolutions followed by spending less and saving more with 13%, being a better person with 10%, and exercising more with 8%. 36%, at that time, offered a different resolution.
Women and men are on the same page. 18% of women and 17% of men are resolving to shed a few pounds. However, older Americans — 23% of those 45 and older — are more likely than younger residents — 12% of those younger than 45 — to promise to lose weight. In fact, among younger Americans who are likely to make a resolution, 13% want to save more and spend less.
Two-Thirds Kept Resolution This Year
Among those who made a New Year’s resolution going into 2011, 67% report they kept their word for at least part of the year while 33% did not.
Increased Pessimism about the Future
While a majority of Americans say they are optimistic about the world in 2012, there is increased pessimism. Currently, 54% are positive about the future while 43% are not, and 3% are unsure. Last year, six in ten — 60% — had an optimistic outlook while 38% had a pessimistic one, and 2% were unsure.
There is a growing pessimism among men. 48% have an upbeat view about the future while 49% do not. In 2010, nearly six in ten men — 58% — reported an optimistic attitude compared with 39% who were more pessimistic.
Those under 45 years old — 67% — are more optimistic compared with their older counterparts — 48%.
Can’t be certain just yet if the future for campaign ’12 will turn out to be as we remember it, I have this nagging feeling that we’ve experienced something resembling this year’s fisticuffs way back when. I’m thinking of the presidential campaigns of 1968, 1972, and 1976 and am not sure which path we are on this election cycle.
In the turbulent and tragic times of 1968, we witnessed an explosive reaction from the progressive side of society targeted at an incumbent Democratic president. The more conservative GOP couldn’t serve as an outlet for the frustration so it spilled onto the street. I’ve noticed that energy pouring out of Occupy Wall Street and see the similarities.
Where does the political energy go when the occupant of the White House is in the middle of the political spectrum between protesters and his conservative GOP electoral challengers? Does the protest end up being bad news for President Obama by sapping the enthusiasm for change he had harnessed in 2008? Maybe… Maybe not.
Then, there’s the 1972 election when a small, highly motivated wing of the Democratic Party captured the nominating process primary by primary, state by state at the exclusion of the party establishment. Its candidate carried one state in the general election in the fall. Now, I’m not going to suggest that the Tea Party movement could wreak this degree of havoc on the GOP in 2012. But, most of the anti-Romney candidates would be welcome opponents to team Obama.
If you don’t buy this scenario, try 1976 and the nomination of Jimmy Carter. Here, the eventual nominee emerged with his party’s nomination by playing off a lengthy field of candidates from the opposite side of his party. He narrowly carried a slew of primaries to emerge under the system of proportional delegate selection to win. This would be the 2012 Mitt Romney model.
Is there a prototype from these three examples that fits 2012? Stay tuned. Clearly, it is always difficult making predictions especially about the future, and hindsight is, after all, always 20/20.
NBC News and Marist College are pleased to announce the launch of a polling partnership, the NBC News/Marist Poll, for the 2012 Republican primary season.
“With the diversity of states in play in this year’s Republican race, let alone for the general election, it’s important for NBC News to have a partner who will bring academic and statistical rigor to the difficult task of state polling. Marist is that partner,” says Chuck Todd, NBC News Political Director and Chief White House Correspondent.
“What better way could an educational institution inform the public on the critical issues of the day,” says Marist College President Dennis J. Murray. “The unprecedented relationship between NBC News and The Marist Poll aims to do just that.”
The Marist Poll is a survey research center at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. As an academic polling institute, The Marist Poll informs Marist students and the public about its poll results, but most importantly, it brings to light survey methods and the behind the scenes of polling.
“As a polling institute, we adhere to a strict standard of transparency, and we look forward to letting the public in on how we come to our findings,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Poll. ”We are very excited to work with the political team at NBC News and to provide our students and the public with a front row seat to the political dialogue of the day.”
Mary E. Azzoli
Marist College, 845.575.5050
NBC News, 212-664-3230
Has baseball lost its place as America’s pastime? CBS Sports broadcaster Verne Lundquist, who admits he’s lost enthusiasm for baseball, talks to the Marist Poll’s John Sparks about why and shares his thoughts, both, on the proposed realignment of the American and National Leagues and this year’s pennant races.
Listen to or read the transcript of the interview below.
Verne, we just passed the halfway mark for the baseball season, and I do want to talk about this year’s pennant races, but first I’d like to talk a little bit about the fans. For the second year in a row, a majority of Americans say they are not baseball fans. In fact, 52% tell the Marist Poll they won’t watch a single game at all this year. So, I’m wondering is baseball no longer the national pastime?
Listen to Part 1:
I don’t think it is, John. I think they yielded that title to the NFL and not recently. I think football in general, but specifically the National Football League, became America’s pastime, favorite pastime, oh my gosh, maybe 10, 12 years ago. I think that baseball kind of lost its way, and they’re having difficulty getting people back and caring about it.
I’m curious about the reasons for the decline, time zones, perhaps, after expansion?
Well, I understand that if you’re… listen, I live in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. So I live in the time zone that the country forgot. We always get irritated, if I can use that word, about the television networks for whom one of which — for whom I work. That’s grammatically incorrect, but you get my drift. It’s always 9:00 Eastern and Pacific and 8:00 Central, and we sit here with our mountain goats and our mountains and say, “What about us?” But, I do think that the West Coast teams, you know, it’s tough for East Coast fans to get truly involved in what’s going on. You could even make the case, I guess, in Texas with Houston and the Astros and up through the middle part of the country, but especially with the teams beginning with the Colorado Rockies, and I don’t think that there’s a fan base that really is evident back East for teams from here in Colorado on out to the West Coast with L.A. and San Francisco and Seattle and San Diego.
You know, I always thought of baseball as a blue collar sport, but I’m wondering, it seems that today’s players are more part of an elite class that I’m wondering if fans can just no longer identify with.
Well, I think economically they certainly are, and you know, it’s tough to be sympathetic to owners who keep paying these astronomical salaries. I don’t remember what the figure is now, but I got tickled in the divorce, the publication of the Frank McCourt divorce papers, when they sought legal help that I think the Dodgers owed, I’m going to say this, and I’ll be within 5 or 6 million, they owed Manny Ramírez $21-million in guaranteed salary, and there was a footnote to the whole thing that somewhere along the line, they owed Vin Scully $165,000. Well, that tells me something about the relative merits that they place on one of the great broadcasters ever in this pay-for-play guy that was there you know, for a couple of years. But that’s true. You know, John, that’s true not only in baseball. The salaries are — and let’s face it, you know, the television networks and the cable networks keep paying these astronomical rights fees, and the salaries are just out of sight — baseball, basketball, and football — in my view.
Is there any way that the waning interest in baseball might be turned around?
Listen to Part 2:
I don’t know. I’m pausing a long time because I would count myself in all candor as one of those people who’s lost interest. I lost interest in the game because I just found — I found the game not… I mean if you talk to a passionate baseball fan, and I know hundreds of them who just absolutely live and die with their teams, most of them involve the Red Sox, the Yankees, and the Mets, as you can imagine, because my work environment is primarily centered around the East Coast, but they — I mean they can do sermons on the benefits of being a baseball fan. The whole sport has kind of turned me off for a long time. I find it way too slow paced. I find it difficult… The season is forever, and the single… I get all the arguments about how it’s a whole 162 game season, but I don’t… How do you instill a sense of excitement back into the game? Well, they did one thing, didn’t they, in the ’90s? They allowed steroid use, and the sport I think suffered for that and is suffering for that, and the ownership kind of looked the other way, and in my view most of the baseball fans, the hard core fans, looked the other way during the steroid era. They were much more excited by the Sammy Sosas and the Mark McGwires and the battle to surpass, you know Barry Bonds. It was just you know forget what you’re putting in your body, it’s the end result. So, fans bear some responsibility for that too.
You know, one recent remedy has been suggested. It’s a new proposal for realignment. They talk about doing away with divisions and balancing the league so that the American and National League would each have 15 teams, and then the top four teams in each league would be eligible for playoffs, but they would also do away with interleague play. I wonder what your thoughts are around that.
Well. I don’t think… and again, this is from a guy who does not pay fervent attention to the regular season. I just don’t.. But I… again, this is just a personal expression, I don’t think people have ever gotten all that excited about interleague play. I suppose they have in Chicago, and I’m sure they have in New York to a lesser degree probably because everything sports-related in California seems to be less emotional for the fans than it is in other parts of the country. I suppose where you’ve got San Francisco, Oakland, or you’ve got the Dodgers and the Angels, there’s a certain amount of interest generated by interleague play. But I think on a whole, it’s not a bell ringer with most folks, and I’d… The idea of the wildcard, I love the idea of going to the four best teams qualify, and let’s go from there. And then after they do that, they can do away with the designated hitter and everything’s going to be perfect.
Let’s talk briefly about the pennant races. I’d like to talk about the American League first. The Yankees and Red Sox are on top in the Eastern Division. In fact, those two teams were the ones that fans that were polled by the Marist Institute mentioned most as being contenders for this year’s World Series. In the American League Central, surprise, the Cleveland Indians all of sudden have come from nowhere, and they’re in a two-way race with the Tigers. And then, of course, in the West, the Rangers having come off of a Cinderella season last season are battling with the Angels, but still, Verne, the leaders in the West and the Central as far as their percentage goes is way below that of the Yankees and the Red Sox. Do you think that in the end it’ll be Yankees and Red Sox again?
Listen to Part 3:
That would be my guess. Boston has kind of owned New York this year, and the country — I think the country cares about those two teams to a much higher degree than they do most others. I don’t want to make that a patent statement. I think you would agree with me that ESPN would have no Sunday night program if the Red Sox and the Yankees didn’t play each other because that is a staple of what they do, but you know, they’ve excelled over the last several years, and my guess is that they will again. And, I agree with you about the Rangers’ Cinderella season. I just… as a person who lived in Dallas and Fort Worth for a long time, of course, that is where I have a still live rooting interest, and I’d love to see them come back and do what they did last year.
Very briefly, the National League, the Phillies have become a powerhouse…
…in the East; and in the Central, the Pittsburgh Pirates for crying out loud are kind of like the Indians; they’re back after a number of lean years, and of course, you’ve got the Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Giants appear to be repeaters in the West. Any thoughts about how the National League might turn out?
Well, I’ve noticed the Lance Berkman contribution to the Cardinals and you know with Pujols hobbled, that’s really good to see. I’m surprised like you are at Cleveland. I think Philadelphia is the best team in the National League, and all they’ve done is in the off season they added Cliff Lee with a wonderfully adept starting pitching rotation. I think that over the long haul, I would be shocked if they were not back in — if they weren’t in the World Series when it was over. They’ve got to be the overwhelming favorites I think. Yes, I know San Francisco makes a lusty claim, but — and as one, as I mentioned, I live in Colorado, you can only imagine how excited people in Denver got at the start of the season, and now they’ve kind of settled down, and they’re mediocre. But the whole… The Giants are the best team in the West, and the Phillies are the best team in the East and let’s — as they say, let’s watch them play in the middle of the country.
Well, it’ll be interesting to watch and also to see as we approach the end of July, which is the trading deadline, to see if what kind of fine tuning some of these ball clubs do. Verne, it’s always pleasure to talk with you. I know you’ve been on vacation for the last month or so and out of the country. I’m just curious, back to work with CBS and what might be on the horizon for you professionally.
Well, we have enjoyed this time off, and I got in touch with my roots. Nancy and I spent a month in Norway. We touched in Denmark and Sweden, but mostly in Norway, and we just had a wonderful time, and it was really invigorating. I’m up next with the PGA Championship in Atlanta the second week in August and then a little bit of a hiatus, and then we go, Gary Danielson and I are back doing the SEC. We open with what has become an annual right of autumn for us, Tennessee and Florida, and the game this year will be in Gainesville. And just one more little plug, John, since you’ve given me a chance to do this, our prime time game, we only get to do one in prime time each year, but we’re doing Alabama at Florida the first Saturday night in October, and I think that could be a doozy.
We’ll look forward to seeing that as well as the other games with you. It’s always a pleasure talking to you.
Thank you, John.
It was the best laid plans. Going into 2011, I planned to refrain from making a New Year’s resolution. And, I was in good company. According to the latest national Marist Poll, 56% of American adults said it was not likely at all that they would make a resolution for 2011. Ultimately, though, I caved.
As the hours ticked down to 2011, I questioned my decision. “There are definitely plenty of bad habits and personality flaws that I can work on correcting,” I thought. So, my ultimate decision was to resolve to worry less and enjoy life more. (No small task for the ultimate Little Miss Worry Wart.)
The ball fell, I ushered in the New Year with my loved ones, and I was on track to be more laid back. Think positively, I said to myself. This is the beginning of a whole new you. January 1st was a wonderful day, filled with family and friends. And, then, it happened. My brother, his fiancée, my fiancé, and I were gathered around my mother’s dining room table discussing our respective wedding plans. As my brother’s well organized fiancée ticked off their well-thought out arrangements, I started to panic. Granted, they are getting married before us, but that still didn’t stop my mind from racing. Are we behind? Does our more traditional style stink of boredom compared with their more avant-guard taste? Should we be doing more? I painfully held my concerns until later that evening. When I shared them with my fiancé, he stared at me and asked, “You couldn’t make it through one day, could you?”
He was right. And, so, I started anew with my resolution. But, here is the question that has been going through my mind: do resolutions do more harm than good? Think about it. Each year, many of us promise to make a change going into the New Year, but for those who don’t keep them, there is often a sense of self-disappointment and failure? In Marist’s holiday survey, nearly six in ten American adults considered the holiday season to be more stressful than fun. Is this yet another holiday tradition which ultimately stresses us out? It could be.
Mental note for 2012: resolve to stop over thinking.
Will Americans vow to make a change heading into 2011? A majority of U.S. residents — 56% — think it is not likely at all that they will make a New Year’s resolution this year while 44% believe it is at least somewhat likely that they will.
When Marist asked the same question last December, 52% did not plan to make a resolution for 2010 while 48% did.
Younger Americans are still among those who are most likely to make a resolution. 58% of those under the age of 45 say they will vow to improve an aspect of their life compared with 34% of those 45 and older. Last year, those proportions stood at 60% and 40%, respectively.
Men and women are currently on equal footing here. 44% of men and the same proportion of women — 44% — resolve to make a change.
Kicking the Smoking Habit Tops List of Resolutions… Losing Weight Follows
Among Americans who are likely to make a resolution, 17% say they want to quit smoking. 16% want to lose weight while 13% want to spend less money and save more. 10% plan to be a better person, and 8% say they are going to exercise more. 36% resolve to make another type of change.
Last year, weight loss topped the list of resolutions with 19%, and quitting smoking took the second place spot with 12%. Rounding out last year’s top five were exercising more which received 10%, being a better person with 9%, and getting a better job with 8%. Spending less came in seventh with 6%.
Men and women have different resolutions in mind this year. 22% of men who are likely to make a resolution plan to stop smoking while weight loss and spending less top the list for women who expect to make a resolution, each receiving 16%.
Age also comes into play. More than a quarter of those under the age of 30 — 27% — say they want to stop smoking. Weight loss (21%) and kicking the smoking habit (17%) top the list for those 30 to 44 years old. Those age 45 to 59 are on the same wavelength. 16% say they want to lose weight while 14% plan to stop smoking. Losing weight is also on the minds of 20% of those 60 and older.
True to Their Word?
But, will they keep their pledge? Of those who made a resolution last year, 60% report they kept their resolution for at least part of the year while 40% did not.
Six in Ten Optimistic About the Future
Americans maintain their optimism going into 2011. 60% are more optimistic about the world in 2011 while 38% are more pessimistic. Just 2% are unsure. In Marist’s December 2009 survey, 63% were more optimistic while 34% were more pessimistic. Three percent, at the time, were unsure.
Younger Americans are more optimistic about the future than are their older counterparts. 71% of those under 45 have a positive outlook compared with 53% of those 45 and older who share this view.
While Democrats have the edge among registered voters nationwide heading into next week’s midterm elections for Congress, Republicans have the advantage among those who are most likely to vote.
According to this McClatchy-Marist Poll, 47% of registered voters nationwide report they are more likely to vote for a Democrat in their district while 41% say they are more likely to support a Republican. Six percent do not plan to vote for either party’s candidate, and 6% are undecided.
When looking at likely voters nationally, neither party has the competitive edge. Among this group of voters, 46% say they are more likely to vote for a Democrat while 46% report they are more likely to support a Republican candidate. Four percent will not vote for either party’s candidate, and the same proportion — 4% — are undecided.
However, Republicans gain the advantage among voters who are the most likely to go to the polls on Election Day. Here, 49% report they are more likely to vote for a Republican candidate while 43% say they are more likely to support a Democrat. Three percent believe they will not vote for either party’s candidate, and 4% are undecided.
“With numbers like these, it’s no wonder both parties are putting the pedal to the floor to get their supporters out,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “What location is to real estate, turnout is to this year’s political landscape.”
Democrats Narrow Enthusiasm Gap
Four in ten registered voters nationally — 40% — report they are very enthusiastic about voting in next Tuesday’s elections. In McClatchy-Marist’s October 8th survey, 36% reported a similar level of enthusiasm.
Republican voters continue to be more energized than Democrats about casting their ballot on Election Day, but Democrats have narrowed the enthusiasm divide. Currently, 49% of Republicans compared with 35% of Democrats express a high level enthusiasm, a 14 percentage point difference. In McClatchy-Marist’s previous poll, that difference stood at 23 percentage points. At that time, a majority of Republicans — 51% — said they were very enthusiastic about voting on Election Day compared with 28% of Democrats. There has also been a bump in the proportion of independent voters who are very enthusiastic. 38% feel this way now compared with 32% a few weeks ago.
Age and gender gaps remain on this question. The youngest members of the electorate — those 18 to 29 — are underwhelmed by the upcoming elections. Only 13% report they are very enthusiastic about voting compared with 11% earlier this month. The eldest members of the electorate — those 60 or older — outpace their youngest counterparts on enthusiasm by nearly four-to-one. Half of those over 60 — 50% — now report a high level of enthusiasm. 48% had a similar degree of enthusiasm in McClatchy-Marist’s early October survey.
Looking at gender, 44% of male voters and 37% of female voters say they are very excited about voting on Election Day. 39% and 32%, respectively, reported the same earlier this month.
Obama Approval Rating Inches Upward
President Barack Obama has a slight increase in his job approval rating. 48% of registered voters nationally say they approve of his job performance, 43% disapprove, and 9% are unsure. In a McClatchy-Marist survey earlier this month, 43% approved, half disapproved, and 7% were unsure.
Democrats and independents are responsible for this uptick in the president’s rating. 79% of Democrats currently say they approve of the president’s job performance compared with 74% earlier this month. Nearly half of independents — 48% — share this positive opinion of Mr. Obama’s performance. This is a 13 percentage point increase since McClatchy-Marist’s last national survey when 35% held this view. Among Republican voters, 14% approve of the president’s job performance while 12% did so earlier in October.
One wrinkle for Obama, though, is that half of voters still say he has fallen below their expectations as president. In McClatchy-Marist’s September 22nd survey, 54% said the same.
Economic Conditions Still Viewed as Inherited
Six in ten registered voters — 60% — believe President Obama mostly inherited today’s economic conditions from the Bush years. These perceptions are bolstered by 85% of Democrats and 61% of independents who share this view. 30% of registered voters report the nation’s economic conditions are a result of the president’s own policies, including 59% of Republicans.
Americans Divide Over Future of the U.S. Economy
When thinking about the future of the U.S. economy, registered voters divide. 47% are more optimistic and say the worst is behind us, 45% are more pessimistic and think the economy will get worse, and 8% are unsure. A few weeks ago, 49% said there is bad economic news on the horizon, 46% said better days are ahead, and 5% were unsure.
Among likely voters nationally, 48% report the worst is behind us, 44% say the worst is yet to come, and 9% are unsure.
Looking at Americans overall, when thinking about the future of the U.S. economy, 47% believe the worst is yet to come while 45% say the worst is behind us. 8% are unsure. In McClatchy-Marist’s previous survey, half — 50% — thought the worst was yet to come, 46% said it was behind us, and 4% were unsure.
Obama Viewed Favorably by Majority
A majority of registered voters — 54% — have a favorable impression of President Barack Obama while 41% have an unfavorable one. 5% are unsure. In McClatchy-Marist’s early October survey, half — 50% — thought highly of the president, 47% did not, and 3% were unsure.
Nearly Half Plan to Support Incumbent
46% of registered voters report they will support their current elected congressperson on Election Day while 41% believe they will vote for someone else. 13% are undecided. In McClatchy-Marist’s September 22nd survey, 48% said they would support the incumbent, 43% wanted someone else, and 9% were undecided.
A majority of Republicans — 54% — say they want someone new in office while 38% say they want to stick with their current elected official. Just 8% are undecided. In contrast, a majority of Democrats — 54% — report they plan to support their incumbent. 26% think they will vote for someone else, and 20% are undecided. Independent voters divide with 46% saying they want their incumbent to remain and 44% reporting they want someone else to be elected. 10% are undecided.
Majority of Americans View Nation as On the Wrong Path
52% of U.S. residents think the nation is moving in the wrong direction while 38% believe it is moving along the right path. 10% are unsure. In McClatchy-Marist’s September 22nd survey, 56% thought the country needed a new compass, 41% said the nation was on track, and 3% were unsure.
This Monday, the New York State Legislature is expected to vote on an emergency spending bill proposed by Governor David Paterson. With the possibility of a government shut down looming, the timing is critical.
But, how much do New York voters care that the budget is late? 72% of registered voters in New York State report it matters at least a good amount to them that this year’s budget is not on time. This includes 47% who say it matters a great deal and 25% who report it matters a good amount to them. On the other hand, the missed deadline doesn’t bother 19% of voters too much, and 8% aren’t upset at all. Just 1% is unsure.
This sentiment of dissatisfaction crosses party lines. 76% of non-enrolled voters and 75% of those in the state’s GOP say it matters at least a good amount to them that the budget deadline has come and gone. 67% of Democrats share this view.
When it comes to Governor Paterson, how do voters think he is handling the state’s budget?
More than six in ten registered voters in New York State — 64% — disapprove of his budgetary leadership. 31% approve, and 5% are unsure. When Marist last asked about Paterson’s handling of the budget in its March 26th survey, similar proportions held these views with 64% disapproving of Paterson’s budgetary acumen and 28% approving. At that time, 8% were unsure.
“The lack of Governor Paterson’s leadership on the budget worries New York voters,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “They are unhappy with the governor’s performance and think the lateness of the budget is troublesome.”
No Improvement on Paterson’s Job Approval Rating
It’s been more than a year since Governor David Paterson has received anything near majority support for his job performance. Currently, 19% of registered voters in New York State think Paterson is doing either an excellent or good job in office. 38% report he is doing a fair job, and 41% think he is performing poorly. Just 2% are unsure.
Little has changed on this question over the past six weeks. When Marist last asked this question in late March, 17% thought the governor was doing an above average job, 39% said he was doing a fair job, and 41% reported he was performing at a subpar level. 3%, at the time, were unsure.
Voters Call for Major Change in Albany
Governor Paterson isn’t the only one with whom voters are displeased. The New York State electorate is fed up with the way things are done in Albany. 70% believe state government needs major change while 16% say it is broken beyond repair. 13% think Albany needs minor changes, and just 1% reports no changes are necessary.
In Marist’s March 26th survey, similar proportions of the electorate held these views.
More Than Seven in Ten Want NYS Re-directed
Although, most voters in New York think the state is headed in the wrong direction, there has been a slight improvement in the proportion of those who think it is on the right track.
72% of voters believe New York State needs to be re-directed, and 22% say the state is traveling in the right direction. 6% are unsure. When Marist last asked about the direction of New York in late March, 78% thought its trajectory was askew while 16% said it was on track. 6%, then, were unsure.
The change has occurred among Democrats and those living in New York City and in the suburbs. 28% of Democratic voters believe the state’s compass is accurate while 20% believed that to be true in March. Looking at region, 37% in New York City and 21% in the suburbs report the state is on course. 27% and 11%, respectively, shared this opinion in Marist’s March 26th poll.
DiNapoli Stuck In Approval Rating Rut
New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli cannot break through with voters. 29% believe he is doing an excellent or good job in office. 34% report he is doing a fair job, and 9% think he is performing poorly. A notable 28% have either never heard of DiNapoli or are unsure how to rate him.
In Marist’s late March poll, 29% gave DiNapoli high marks, 31% rated his job performance as fair, and 9% said he was doing a poor job. 31% had either never heard of him or were unsure how to rate him.