James Shott / December 23, 2014

Interesting Polls, Other Than the North Pole, That Are in the News

As the year-end draws nearer, polling organizations provide a look into the likes and dislikes of Americans.

The Gallup organization’s daily tracking poll of December 16-18 shows that only 23 percent of Americans are satisfied with the direction of the country. Not surprisingly, a breakdown shows that 38 percent of Democrats and 21 percent of independents said they were satisfied with the way things were going in the U.S. throughout 2014, compared with just 10 percent of Republicans.

The U-3 unemployment rate stands at 5.9 percent and the underemployed rate at 14.9 percent, based on Gallup’s thirty-day rolling average, and President Obama’s approval rating stands at 43 percent approval to 52 percent disapproval, having moved from a virtual tie at 46 percent in August of last year.

Gallup finds Congress just a hair higher than its all-time record low approval rating of 14 percent, at 15 percent. Just 13 years ago Congress was rated at a record 56 percent, but its rating has not been higher than 20 percent in the last five years, or in six of the last seven years.

A Rassmussen poll found that 86 percent of U.S. adults are proud to be Americans, and 92 percent believe that U.S. citizenship is very important. However, only 40 percent of voters like President Obama’s unilateral amnesty for up to five million illegal aliens to remain in the country. Roughly half think the U.S. will suffer because of the amnesty and that it will increase illegal immigration.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks daily how Americans evaluate their lives on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. The Index shows 55 percent are thriving, 42 percent struggling, 4 percent suffering, and 12 percent are under stress.

A USA Today poll in November asked whether respondents favor approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project. By 60 percent to 25 percent, respondents favor approving the project, with 14 percent unsure.

On its Website, Gallup notes “U.S. federal government workers are less engaged than the rest of the U.S. workforce. On average, 27 percent of federal government employees are engaged in their jobs in 2014, compared with 31 percent of all other workers in the U.S. With more than 2 million federal employees, this lack of engagement is costing the federal government an estimated $18 billion in lost productivity annually, or approximately $9,000 per employee.”

Gallup says that engaged employees feel connected to their organization and work to move it forward, while those who are not engaged may meet the expectations of their job, but don’t do anything extra for it, and those who are actively disengaged actually undermine their engaged co-workers. “Those federal government employees who are actively disengaged, combined with those employees who are not engaged, translates into 11 percent lost productivity across the government, according to a Gallup analysis. This suggests that nearly $9,000 of the average $78,467 federal employee salary is not producing benefits for the agency or the general public.”

A Rassmussen Reports poll found that respondents believe America’s Founders would view the nation today as a failure by a margin of 46 percent to 36 percent, with 18 percent being unsure. The Founders, a group that includes Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and James Madison, would not approve of what is going on in America today, according to this poll, and it is comforting to note that contemporary Americans agree with the Founders. But, will this dissatisfaction actually lead to a return to the founding principles of limited government and a high level of personal liberty?

Fully 78 percent of participants like the health care they received before the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare was passed, but they believe that the health care they have been getting in recent years will get worse under Obamacare.

Gallup found that among 11 professions nurses have the highest honesty and ethical standards, with 80 percent ranking them high or very high. Doctors, pharmacists, police officers and clergy round out the top five, while Members of Congress rank last at 7 percent.

A Rassmussen poll in April reflected that 54 percent of participants consider the federal government a threat to individual liberty, while just 22 percent see government as a protector of individual rights, a number that stood at 30 percent five months earlier. Thirty-seven percent actually fear the federal government, while 47 percent do not, and 17 percent are uncertain.

Gallup asked public school teachers if they have experienced each of seven possible emotional reactions to the Common Core State Standards (Worried, Frustrated, Resigned to it, Hopeful, Confident, Angry, or Enthusiastic), and 65 percent said Worried, 62 percent said Frustrated, and 57 percent said Resigned to it, while only 20 percent said Enthusiastic, 24 percent said Angry, and 27 percent said Confident. Forty-nine percent said they were Hopeful.

Where parents of public school students are concerned, 35 percent view Common Core negatively, 33 percent view it positively, and 32 percent aren’t familiar with it or don’t have an opinion. Gallup found a shift toward negative feelings since April when 35 percent were positive and 28 percent were negative.

Best wishes to all for a Happy Chanukah and a Merry Christmas!

James Shott is a columnist for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, and publishes his columns on several Websites, including his own, Observations.

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