Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

September 18, 2010 12:00 PM

State of the Nation

20.1% of children under the age of 18 in the United States were living in poverty in 2009 (14,807,000). That percentage grew from 18.5% of children who were so afflicted in 2008.

Even more troubling is the fact that in 2009, 24% of children 4 years of age and younger (5,056,000) were living in poverty. This is an increase from the 21.8% (4,457,000) who shared that fate in 2008.

The overall poverty rate in this country rose from 13.2% in 2008 to 14.3% in 2009. The total number of people in poverty grew from 39,800,000 in 2008 to 43,600,000 in 2009.

How is it possible that a country that can spend a billion dollars building a sports stadium and a trillion dollars fighting two wars will allow babies and children to go hungry?

WW has to wonder what would happen if half of the energy that is being spent on preserving tax breaks for the wealthy were devoted to addressing this extraordinary problem. [Source U.S. Census Bureau]

Unemployment was at 9.6% in August ,with little prospect of any improvement between now and the election. When those who are unemployed are added to those who are underemployed, the number grows to 18.6%. [BLS;Gallup]

The country is in a recession, according to 82% of Americans, no change since 2009 when it was 84%. While 52% thought the economy was getting better a year ago, 61% now say that it is getting worse. [Gallup 9/10]

Public opinion as to whether the country is headed in the right direction has not changed much since March.

September xxxx 33/60/% xxxx
August (late) 30/61% xxxx xxxx
August (early) 32/58% xxxx xxxx
June 29/61% 32/60% xxxx
March 33/59% xxxx 38/60%
February xxxx 33/62% xxxx
January 2010 34/54% 36/55% 37/62%
December 33/55% 37/56% xxxx
October 35/52% xxxx 44/54%
September 39/48% 41/53% xxxx
August xxxx xxxx 44/55%
July 39/49% 42/49% xxxx
June 42/46% 44/50% 47/50%
April 43/43% 39/53% 50/48%
February 2009 41/44% 23/68% 31/67%

When asked to volunteer what they believe is the most pressing problem facing the country, 32% of Americans say the “economy”. Another 28% separately say “jobs”. The next highest issues, at 3% each, are healthcare and the budget deficit. In June, 20% named the economy, 13% the gulf oil spill, and 5% cited health care. [NYT/CBS 9/10]

In August –

38% believed the economy is in better shape now than it was 18 months ago. [AP/GfK 8/10]

64% believed that the economy still has a way to drop before it hits bottom. [WSJ/NBC 8/10]

Then in September -

81% rate the economy as bad and 30% think it is getting worse. [NYT/CBS 9/10]

92% describe the nation’s economy as poor (53%) or not so good (40%). 38% think it is getting worse. [WP/ABC 9/10]

When it comes to the Federal government, 78% are dissatisfied with the way that it works. 22% have a positive view. [WP/ABC 9/10]

The increasing Federal debt causes 80% of Americans to be concerned about the financial future of their children and grandchildren. [AP/GfK 8/10]

72% of Americans rely on network news, cable TV, newspapers, magazines, and radio as their primary source of political news and information. Only 14% rely on online blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and online political sites. [NBC/WSJ 8/10]

However, confidence in newspapers and TV news are at a 30 year low. Only 25% have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers, and an even lesser number, 22%, show the same level of confidence in TV news. [Gallup 8/10]

The number of internet users, ages 50 and older, who engage in social networking, has grown from 22% to 42% in the last year. 47% of those 50-64 and 26% of those 65 and older now spend time on social network sites. This compares to 86% of those 18-29 who use these sites. Among those 30-49, 61% say they are engaged in social networking.

Twitter and similar services are growing, but have not come close to the massive use of Facebook and the like. 11% of those 50-64 use these tools. At that, it is still twice what it was a year ago.

Even with the adoption of these new tools, email is still the most popular with those over the age of 50. 92% of those 50-64 and 89% of the 65 and older crowd send or read email. 76% of the 50-64 year olds get news online, 42% of them on any given day. 62% of the over 65 group get news online; about a third of them do so on any given day. [Pew Research]

As of 2008, there were 133 million English language websites. [Technorati.com]

Wyoming (53%), Mississippi (53%), Utah (51%), and South Dakota (50%) are the most conservative States. While DC (42%), Rhode Island (32%) , Connecticut (29%), and Vermont (29%) are the most liberal. [Gallup 8/10]

In January 2010, 28% were positive about the Tea Party Movement, while 21% were negative. 31% had no opinion. Now, only 13% do not have an opinion; 30% have a positive opinion, while 34% have a negative opinion. This suggests that getting to know the Movement is not to come to love it. [NBC/WSJ 8/10]

There are other surveys that suggest there has been little change in attitudes about the Tea Party. The number who consider it favorably (31%), the number who agree with its positions (34%), and the number who consider themselves to be supporters (28%) have not really changed in the last 4 months. [AP/GfK 8/10]

However, there is no way of denying that the Tea Party is having an impact on the electoral process that was not anticipated at the beginning of this year.

There are a lot assumptions being made about whether they will have a significant impact in November. There are a good many folks that continue to give the Movement the back of its hand. That may be a mistake.

Whether or not you agree with the movement’s point of view, no one can really predict the degree to which it will influence the election this fall.

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