Scene from movie Dazed & confused of students standing, sitting, and laying on and inside an orange convertible car

We Should Hang Out More

Movies often serve as perfect time capsules, offering snapshots of what life was like in an earlier time. Take Dazed and Confused. The movie is set in late seventies Texas and focuses on groups of ... Read Now >


COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy

A recent Marist Poll revealed that 1 in 4 Americans say they will choose not to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

Meanwhile, experts say vaccinations will be a crucial tool to bring an end to the pandemic.

So, what’s holding back a quarter of Americans?

For most, the vaccine’s newness and uncertainty about its lasting effects play a primary role. Polls also reveal widespread confusion about the vaccine, in general, as a notable portion of Americans could not easily identify falsehoods about the vaccines. In fact, many said new information would not even change their minds.

With close to half the nation already in the vaccination process, Americans who are hesitant about the vaccine may face new challenges if some proposed vaccine mandates go into effect. Yet, even among those who are vaccinated, some appear reluctant to support new requirements.

Global Warming/Other Public Health Issues

Even as the vast majority of climate scientists warn that global warming has become a critical issue for the planet, most Americans are not much more concerned than they were 30 years ago. Why?

Often, with science-based issues like global warming, peoples’ attitudes have changed as scientists reach consensus. For example, as evidence of health risks related to smoking mounted, more people began to acknowledge the health risks.

Similarly, as research was conducted on the safety benefits of seat belts, more people began wearing them.

So, why hasn’t consensus on global warming shifted? To date, that’s an unanswered question.

This post was written by Marist Poll “College 2 Career” intern Astrea Slezak. 

Astronaut floating in space

Space Tourism

Space tourism is just around the corner, and for years pollsters asked Americans if they would go to space if they had the opportunity.

And? A majority said no.

Now in 2021, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX projects are soon to make space tourism a reality–at least for those willing to pay for it. The price tag for the 2022 Virgin Galactic suborbital space tourism flight is $250,000 for a three hour flight.

They’ve already sold 600 tickets.

With these companies making space tourism more than just a science fiction novel, is it a trip Americans are interested in taking? Let’s take a look back into Americans’ opinions of this issue with the price tag stripped away.

Starting in 1986, Americans were asked in a CBS News/New York Times Poll, “If you had a chance in your lifetime to travel to outer space, would you do so, or not?” At that time as the Space Shuttle program had made space travel routine, 54% of Americans said they would NOT go.

Almost a decade later in 1994, CBS News again asked the question and again roughly the same number (58%) said they had no interest in blasting off into space.

Once again in 1999, CBS News surveyed Americans on this question and the answers didn’t really change: 57% said they wouldn’t go into space, if they had the opportunity.

Two years later, the first “space tourist” paid $20 million to spend 8 days on the International Space Station (ISS). From the first recreational launch in 2001 to the last in 2009, there were six additional civilian visitors that paid a cool $20 million to spend a week in space.

But, did that change Americans’ minds about travelling to space? A 2004 CBS News Poll found the answer was no. This time 60% said no space travel for them.

And then CBS stopped asking the question.

So, a lot has changed since 2004. With commercialized flights to space being launched as soon as late 2021, space tourism is about to be an expensive new reality. Virgin’s short flights will cost a quarter million, but SpaceX’s 10-day trip to the ISS may cost as much as $50 million…per person.

Who’s going to pay that? Rumors say Leonardo Dicaprio, Tom Hanks, Justin Beiber, and Rihanna have all lined up to head into space with, at least, one of the companies.

If all goes well, though, prices would likely drop as space tourism becomes more common. And, Musk is already working on a rocket that can take 100 people to space at a time.

So, is it time to ask that question again? Would YOU go to space if you had the opportunity? Especially if someone else was paying?

Let’s find out. WE will be asking the question in an upcoming poll, 35 years after CBS asked the question for the first time. And, we’ll let you know what we find.

This post was written by Marist Poll “College 2 Career” intern Gabi Gervasi.

Earth is flat sign amidst protestors

Conspiracy vs. Legitimate News: Who Wins?

A faked moon landing, a coup d’etat to kill the president, and a planned terrorist attack are just a few of the most infamous American conspiracy theories. Today, the internet’s virality and the omnipresence of social media have conjured a breeding ground ripe for disinformation. And more conspiracies have emerged. 

Recently, a number of theories wrought notable and even violent consequences. Empowered by a rampant falsehood that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex trafficking ring in the basement of a pizza parlor in Washington, D.C., an armed man arrived at the location eager to put an end to the supposed activity. Just months ago, the armed insurrection of the U.S. Capitol on January 6 made clear how dangerous were the false claims that the 2020 election had been rigged.

But what about the facts? What about the role of a free and independent press to inform the public?

The confluence of historically low trust in news and the viral nature of conspiracy theories online has fostered a news environment rife with muddled facts and persistent disinformation.

2020 Election

The Conspiracy…

of Americans 

believe Joe Biden won the 2020 election due to

“voter fraud”


The Credible News…

of Americans 

say media coverage of the 2020 election after the polls closed was

“largely inaccurate”



The Conspiracy…

of Americans

“believe that” or 

“don’t know if”

COVID-19 was created in a lab in China.


The Credible News…

of Americans

do not trust in news about COVID-19 from

National TV News


The influence of conspiracy theories has not gone unnoticed by Americans. Almost three-quarters (73%) of Americans believe that conspiracy theories in the U.S. are out of control, according to a Quinnipiac poll. That said, another poll from Quinnipiac reported that most are split on whether or not those beliefs are problematic (41%) or a definite crisis (34%). 

Regardless, it’s clear to Americans that conspiracy theories are gaining traction. Two years before the violent display at the Capitol on January 6, CBS News polled on conspiracy theories and found that a majority of Americans (59%) believed that people were more likely to believe in conspiracy theories than they were 25 years before. 

The difference could be attributed to rapid dissemination online: in fact in that same poll, most Americans (77%) seem to agree that this growing trend of belief or fascination with conspiracy theories is due to their growing presence on social media and the internet.

Examples of Conspiracy Posts on Social Media

More than simply facilitating the spread, social media has been the site of origin for new conspiracy theories, like QAnon. Originating on a message board in 2017, messages from a mysterious user, Q, caught fire and proliferated dark conspiracy theories –– most notably, the claim that Donald Trump was secretly leading the charge against Satanic pedophiles (who followers said were high-ranking Democrats and celebrities). 

A partisan divide appears evident in who espouses or condemns this theory, further amplifying the political and social impacts of the conspiracy –– of the Americans who had heard or read about QAnon, 9 in 10 Democrats said that it is a bad thing for the country while just half of Republicans agreed, according to the Pew Research Center.

Americans who said they believed or were unsure about whether a group of Satan-worshipping elites who run a child sex ring are attempting to control politics and the media.

The long lifespan of some conspiracy theories is evident according to results from a CBS News poll in 2018. Some famous examples –– John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the 1969 Apollo moon landings, and 9/11 –– show that a deeply-rooted conspiracy can live on for decades. Pop culture can play a significant role in firmly establishing these conspiracy theories; for instance, of the Americans who had seen the 1991 movie JFK, a quarter said it made them more likely to think there was a conspiracy behind the assassination, according to an ABC News poll.

How Many Americans Believe Classic Conspiracy Theories? (2018)

Conspiracy theories have emerged throughout history, particularly in times of crisis. While social media may help conspiracies spread, the past shows that it isn’t likely Facebook, Twitter and the like are the only reason we find ourselves awash in myths. That said, the viral nature of social media continues to play at least some role in the development and proliferation of modern-day conspiracies, begging the question: Who is responsible for the spread of misinformation online? And should anyone be held accountable for what users post?

The CEOs of Facebook, Twitter, and Google faced these questions last week before Congress. Who should be the arbiter of the truth remains a central question, one that has become more urgent as trust in news falters and conspiracies boom.

College 2 Career Interns Sarah Lynch and Astrea Slezak wrote this report.

COVID-19 and its Effect on Mental Health

Now that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, how bad is the damage?

From lost jobs to school closings and quarantines to social isolation, the effects of COVID-19 have gotten a lot of attention.

But, one impact has been less discussed: The state of our mental health.

Before the pandemic, during the first six months of 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found more than 1 in 10 adults (11%) in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. Now, after a year of living through a global pandemic, the number has quadrupled. In January 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey found that 41% of U.S. adults reported similar symptoms.

And, it’s even worse among young adults, adults with job loss or income insecurity, and essential workers.

Young Adults

63% of Americans ages 18-24 reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in a CDC survey conducted during the pandemic in June 2020. And how are they coping? Young adults are about twice as likely to report increased or new substance use compared to all adults (25% vs. 13%) and more than twice as likely to have experienced increased or new suicidal thoughts (26% vs. 11%).

Let’s take an even closer look. College students appear to be the most affected within this age group. In research conducted last spring, 85% of college students said they had experienced high to moderate levels of distress — 45% of those students said they felt highly distressed.

Economically Stressed

People facing job loss and income insecurity due to COVID are showing that they are struggling with their mental health at a disproportionate rate, as well. In the December 2020 Household Pulse Survey, those who had not experienced job loss reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder at 32% while those who had reported symptoms at 53%.

Americans who face income insecurity show similar results. In a 2020 KFF poll looking at the negative mental health impacts of the pandemic, those who earn less than $40,000 a year reported feeling major negative mental health effects compared to those earning $90,000 or more (35% vs. 17%).

Essential Workers

Going into a second year of working on the frontlines of the pandemic, essential workers experienced symptoms of depression and anxiety at higher numbers than the general population. In a study published by the CDC in June 2020, 42% of essential workers experienced these symptoms as compared to 30% of non-essential workers.

As we saw with young adults, essential workers were about twice as likely to report increased or new substance use as non-essential workers (25% vs. 11%). Even more alarming is that essential workers were almost three times more likely to seriously consider suicide “in the past 30 days” than non-essential workers (22% vs. 8%).

While there have been many visibly negative effects of COVID, the impact on Americans’ mental health has been more hidden. These statistics may help explain why the new COVID relief bill is allocating $3.5 billion for block grants addressing substance use and mental health disorders.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have an emergency, call 911 immediately. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a trained counselor (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). If you are located outside the United States, call your local emergency line immediately.

This post was written by Marist Poll “College 2 Career” intern Gabi Gervasi. 

Covid-19: Has it infected our dreams?

COVID has changed everything, including many of our dreams.

An Axios-Ipsos poll released March 9th shows that one in three Americans have experienced strange or vivid dreams in the past month, with fewer than 10% of those being directly COVID-19 related.

“It was like the zombie apocalypse but slower, calmer.”

This excerpt is from one of hundreds of often vivid COVID-related dreams submitted to the i dream of covid website since it launched a year ago.

Frontiers, a peer-reviewed, open science journal, published a study in October 2020 examining dream content during the pandemic and evaluating how it affected people’s dreams and nightmares. It found 26% of those studied experienced nightmares.

Everyone dreams, even if they do not remember doing so.

Experts state that nightmares and recurring dreams may be how we work out stressful waking experiences. And some research has shown increased nightmare activity is related to trauma. So, what exactly are people dreaming about? And, could it clue us into what anxieties are circulating among the population?

Kelly Bulkeley of the Sleep and Dream Database partnered with Michael Schredl of the Central Institute of Mental Health to conduct a scientific survey analyzing dreaming during the pandemic.

Out of those experiencing COVID-related dreams, about a third were related to pandemic control measures such as social distancing and wearing masks. Roughly another third were about being sick, or a loved one being sick. The final group of dream content was not directly related to the actual virus, but rather “other” topics. One example presented in the “other” section was a dream about the president not having urgency to face the pandemic and leaving people sick or dying.

So, is it simply that we are stressed, and we’re dreaming about what stresses us?

In short, yes. And, some of these dreams are wildly elaborate.

Some dreams posted to i dream of covid sound like bizarre science fiction movies:  “In my dream, the virus Covid19 was not an infectious pathogen, but an organized group of people—like some sort of sinister army. The overarching idea of the dream was to evade capture by this group.”

An entire year has gone by with COVID affecting our every waking hour. Now we know it’s invaded our non-waking time, as well, with pandemic fever dreams play out in our sleep

This post was written by Marist Poll “College 2 Career” intern Astrea Slezak. 

American Attitudes on COVID-19, One Year Later

This time last year, the first cases of a novel coronavirus appeared in the United States. Within weeks, everything changed.

Schools closed, the Dow plunged and stay-at-home orders took effect. “Social distancing” emerged as a buzzword and way of life for many Americans, as kitchen tables transformed into offices and classrooms. Bleak milestones marked the pandemic’s grave evolution, and, today, more than half a million Americans have lost their lives to the virus.

With all that’s changed since the pandemic’s inception, we’re left wondering: How can it be March again?

In one year, public opinion has shifted on a myriad of issues related to the pandemic, from the government’s handling of the virus to wearing masks in public.

“This issue is more personal than most of the issues being debated,” Dr. Robert J. Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis, emeritus, at Harvard says. “On most policy issues, my feelings about guns or this or that are standard. I’m going to feel, unless there’s some really big national event, the same way. But here, this is really dependent on what actually happens.”

Here’s how public opinion has changed over the last 12 months:


Last March, much about the virus’s spread and deadliness remained unclear. Since that time, the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index has produced regular updates on COVID-19 in public opinion. While the most recent installment reveals that a majority (55%) of Americans are extremely or very concerned about the coronavirus or a COVID-19 outbreak, fewer (37%) felt that way last March.


Last March, much about the virus’s spread and deadliness remained unclear. Since that time, the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index has produced regular updates on COVID-19 in public opinion. While the most recent installment reveals that a majority (55%) of Americans are extremely or very concerned about the coronavirus or a COVID-19 outbreak, fewer (37%) felt that way last March.


Masks, now mandated in more than 30 states, were not officially recommended by the CDC until early April 2020. A year ago, a poll from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that just 12% of Americans had bought or worn a protective mask. As of March 1 of this year, the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index shows that most Americans (73%) report wearing a mask at all times when they leave home.

Throughout the pandemic, Americans have looked to political leaders at the state and national level for guidance, but their satisfaction varied. On January 20, President Joe Biden inherited the deadliest month of the pandemic to date.


When we asked Americans in March 2020 about President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a plurality (49%) disapproved. With Biden in office, Americans conveyed more optimism about pandemic. Now over a month into his presidency, Biden has won approval from a majority (62%) for his handling of the outbreak, according to a recent American Research Group, Inc. poll.


The federal government’s response, as a whole, has been better received in recent polls compared to the early days of the pandemic. According to the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index, 45% of Americans said the federal government had become better at handling the pandemic –– that’s compared to the 26% of Americans in October who said the federal government’s handling of the pandemic had improved.


Last year, state governments earned strong marks from Americans. Back in March 2020, we found that many (65%) said their state officials were doing enough to prevent the spread of coronavirus in their states, versus the 46% approval for the federal government.

As government leaders continue to grapple with new variants and the pandemic’s yearlong strain, Americans eagerly anticipate a return to “normal.” Will they spend this next Thanksgiving with their families? What will be the impact of vaccines? These questions linger but the coming months will hopefully illuminate the pandemic’s future.


Multiple vaccines are currently in circulation, just one year after the global pandemic was officially declared. But hurdles remain: in March 2020, most Americans (84%) said that they were likely to take a vaccine for COVID-19 if it was available; but now, even with the number of first-generation COVID-19 vaccines increasing, just 46% said they were likely to receive one as soon as it was available (23% have already received vaccines, but a drop in enthusiasm overall remains evident).


The quest for normalcy remains at the fore, and Americans’ optimism for the pandemic’s prompt end has fizzled: Last May, we reported that many Americans (65%) said that daily life would not return to some sense of normal before six months, at least. As of January 2021, that’s increased to 79%.

But glimmers of hope persist in public opinion. Positivity about the government’s capacity to handle the still-raging pandemic has increased and protocols like mask-wearing have become a standard practice, at least in a majority of states.

“These are numbers that are going to change,” Miringoff says. “Most of them should reflect that things will be getting better, and people will react to that.”

This post was written by Marist Poll “College 2 Career” intern Sarah Lynch.

Cuomo and #MeToo: The Partisanship of Sexual Misconduct Allegations

How do allegations of sexual harassment impact a politician’s career? Well, that depends which party they’re in and which party makes up the majority of their constituents.

Five women have come forward with sexual harassment allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a third-term Democrat. The day before the first aide, Lindsey Boylan, made her claim, we released a poll showing 49% of New York State residents approved of Cuomo’s job performance.

However, our poll was in the field before any of the allegations surfaced.

Last week, Cuomo said he would not resign and asked New Yorkers to wait for a full investigation. What does this mean for Cuomo’s career and a potential fourth term? Let’s take a look at other politicians after similar allegations for some insight.

The #MeToo Era changed the way we talk about sexual misconduct. The #MeToo movement gained traction on social media in 2017 when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”

Since then, more than 90 state lawmakers have been accused of sexual harassment or assault. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, two of the most prominent cases, may shed some light on Cuomo’s future.

On September 16, 2018, Christine Blasey Ford publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school. Two more women shared stories of Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual misconduct, prior to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote to move his nomination to the full Senate.

In the weeks following the allegations, the Quinnipiac Poll asked “Do you think the U.S. Senate should confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, or not?” Most Republicans (84%) said he should, and most Democrats (88%) said he should not.

As to the accusation of sexual assault, most Republicans (84%) believed Kavanaugh’s denial, while most Democrats (86%) believed Blasey Ford’s claims.

In Virginia, we saw the same in-party support for an accused politician — this time from the Democratic Party in the case of Lt. Gov. Fairfax. Two women, Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, came forward in early February 2019 accusing Fairfax of sexual assault.

A Quinnipiac Poll of Virginians asked, “If an elected official has been accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault by multiple people, do you think that elected official should resign, or not?” On that question, a majority of Democrats (55%) responded yes, as did 39% of Republicans.

But, when the same survey asked specifically about Fairfax, a majority of Republicans (52%) thought Fairfax should resign, but only 24% of Democrats thought the same.

So, at least in these two high profile cases, when sexual misconduct allegations arise against specific political figures, people tend to be more forgiving of politicians from within their own party. Then again, Democratic Senator Al Franken was pushed very quickly to resign after an accusation of inappropriate sexual misconduct — by Democrats.

So, what does this say about Cuomo’s future?

On Sunday, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins called on Cuomo to step down. But, a Quinnipiac Poll released last Thursday found a majority of New Yorkers (55%) think Cuomo should not resign, including 74% of Democrats. On the other hand, 70% of Republicans said he should.

Considering that 50% of New York voters are registered Democrats and just 22% are registered Republican and if Kavanaugh and Fairfax are any guide, Cuomo may have a better chance of staying in office than some political prognosticators believe.

Providers or Posters: Who’s Responsible for the Disinfo Mess on Social Media?

Rarely a day goes by without someone calling out prominent people posting disinformation — misleading statements, half-truths, outright lies — on social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. And it matters because Americans use social media a lot.

Over 8 in 10 (83%) Americans over the age of 12 have at least one social media account and adults are currently spending about 123 minutes per day in them (according to data from Backlinko). So, with all the disinformation filling social media, one question pollsters have been asking is: Who is responsible for policing social media sites? The platforms or those who post?

In a 2016 McClatchy-Marist Poll, 53% of Americans believed that Facebook and Twitter are “free marketplaces” and users are responsible for determining the truth in what they read. 41% thought the platforms had a responsibility to stop the sharing of information that is identified as false.

This is a topic that, at that time, both Democrats and Republicans agreed on…to an extent. 52% of Republicans and 49% of Democrats thought users were responsible — a narrow 3-point difference.

Fast forward to 2020, and opinions have dramatically changed — and become more politically polarized.

In an August 2020 Pew Research survey, three in four Americans (75%) said technology companies had a responsibility to prevent misuse of their platforms to influence the 2020 presidential election.

While not the same question as the one we asked in 2016, it hints at a significant shift in public opinion with regard to how much social media platforms should be responsible for the content they host.

What’s really striking, though, is the partisan divide in the Pew study. While 85% of Democrats said the tech companies should do something about the misuse of their platforms to influence an election, 64% of Republicans felt the same. A 21-point gap — much larger than in the 2016 poll — albeit on a different question.

Still, no matter who Americans believe should deal with social media misuse, a large majority agree it exists.

In an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll conducted earlier in 2020, 82% of Americans thought it likely that they would encounter misleading information on social media sites.

So, with a majority of Americans expecting misleading information and a majority thinking social media companies themselves should take at least some responsibility for the problem, it may be one of the few bipartisan issues the new Congress will deal with in 2021.

This post was written by Marist Poll “College 2 Career” intern Thomas Muratore.

Swing State Voters Rule: Why Every Vote Doesn’t Count the Same

Think about Election Day! Voters of all different ages, ethnicities, religions, and incomes come together to voice their opinions. So, regardless of differences people might have, everyone has equal say, right? Actually, no.

Not every vote is created equally, and the greatest factor on how much your vote truly matters is simply where you live.

In reality, swing states have a lot more say in who becomes America’s next president than states that reliably vote blue or red, year in and year out.

Hamline University Professor of Political Science Dalton Shaultz says, “There are only about 10 swing states – states that could flip between a Republican or Democratic presidential candidate – that really determine the outcome of the election in terms of getting a candidate to 270 electoral votes.”

What about the rest of us? Shaultz says, “In 40 states, Democrats or Republicans can get enough votes that there is no realistic chance the opposing party can win that state’s electoral votes.”

That means that in those consistently red or blue states, voters literally have less influence than voters in swing states. Adam McCann of WalletHub, a personal finance company, shows this by factoring in win probabilities from and electors per adult population for each state. His work demonstrates the sometimes vast difference in impact between voters in swing states in presidential elections and those in ‘spectator states.’

For example, McCann calculated a vote in Ohio (a swing state) has 107 times the weight of a vote in California (a Democratic spectator state). And, a voter in Florida (a swing state) has 40 times more juice than one in Oklahoma (a Republican spectator state).

So, it’s no wonder both Trump and Biden spent so much of their campaign budgets and time in the battleground swing states; voters in these states are more consequential than voters in others.

Saul Anuzis, President of the 60 Plus Association, a conservative advocacy group for seniors, says, “We don’t so much elect the President of the United States as we do the president of the battleground states.”

What really highlights this reality of differing voter influences is that, since 1992, Republicans have won the White House three times — and twice did so while losing the popular vote. George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016 both won the Presidency in the Electoral College in part by capturing key swing states by very narrow margins.

This may help explain the finding from our NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll from December 2019: 73% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said it was a “good idea” to get rid of the Electoral College. Conversely 78% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said that was a “bad idea”.

But, getting rid of the Electoral College is no easy task. NPR’s Miles Parks maps out the steps to make this happen: “Fully overhauling the way the president is selected would take a Constitutional amendment, which would require the votes of two-thirds of the U.S. House of Representatives, two-thirds of the Senate, and three-fourths of the states”.

And what are the odds of those things happening in this political era?

This post was written by Marist Poll “College 2 Career” intern Thomas Muratore.