Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

October 28, 2014 12:00 PM

State of the Nation

In the 2nd week of October the NBC/WSJ poll found that 65% of us think the country is on the wrong track, while 25% of Americans think the country is on the right track.

Not since June 2013 have more than 30% of Americans thought the country was on the right track. During that same 16 month period the percentage of Americans who think the country is on the wrong track has ranged from a high of 78% in October 2013 to a low of 61% in July 2013.

“The lower half of U.S. households, ranked by wealth, held just 1% of total wealth last year (2013) down from 3% in 1989.” [WSJ 10/18 – Janet Yellen]

The official BLS unemployment rate for September 2014 is 5.9 %, down a point from the previous month and down 1.3% points from a year ago. If one takes into account the total unemployed + those marginally attached to the labor force + those working part-time who want full-time work, the rate is 11.3 %. This is down from 13.1% a year ago. 2.7% of the work force has been unemployed for 15 weeks or more, down from 3.7% a year ago.

In the third week of October Gallup found an unemployment rate of 6.3%. It also found an underemployment rate (unemployed +those working part-time, but wanting full time) of 15.0%, down a touch from mid-September.

When asked what they think are the most important issues facing working women in this country today, Americans state that the top four issues are equal pay/fair pay (39%), equal opportunity for promotion (20%), availability of jobs (8%), and more respect in the workplace (8%). On these issues, women, men, and working women all have the same point of view, with the exception that working women rate “equal pay” at 42%, while men rate it at 37%.

However, on three issues which rank further down the list there are real differences.

Issue All Women Men Working Women
Access to/better childcare 7% 10% 3% 12%
Balancing work/home life 6 9 3 10
Healthcare 5 7 3 9
On one issue in the same category there is agreement.
Maternity/Family leave 3 3 3 2

76% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way this country’s political system is working – or not working – as the case may be. 22% are satisfied. Of those who are dissatisfied, 65% say the two Parties are equally guilty. 17% place most of the blame on Republicans in Congress, and 16% blame Obama and the Democrats in Congress. [WP/ABC 10/14]

Support for the Tea Party remains at 24%, down from its high of 32% leading up to the 2010 election. Support fell as low as 21% leading up to the 2012 election. Opposition to the Tea Party has risen to 31%, slightly higher than the previous high. [Gallup 10/14]

But the reality is that the Tea Party has already won its fight by moving the Republican Party in an ever more conservative direction.

And, 73% of Tea Party Republicans are extremely/highly motivated to vote in November. This is a higher level than Republicans generally and of all other Americans. [Gallup 10/14]

60% of Tea Party members would rather have a candidate who sticks to his/her positions, while 32% prefer someone who compromises. The “no compromises” position is shared by 54% of Republicans and 32% of Democrats. [NBC/WSJ 10/14]

58% of Americans believe that the two major political Parties do not do an adequate job of “representing the American people,” and therefore, there is a need for a 3rd U.S. political party. Of this group, 46% identify as Republicans, 47% identify as Democrats, and 71% identify as Independents.

35% of us say that the two major Parties do an adequate job. [Gallup 9/14]

50% of Americans have negative feelings about the Republican Party, while 43% have negative feelings about the Democratic Party. [NBC/WSJ 10/14]

The two major political Parties in the U.S. are trusted equally, 39% to 39%, to cope with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years.

The Republican Party, rather than the Democratic Party is seen as

* Having the right ideas about the size and role of the Federal government by 40% to 33%

The Republican Party is more trusted to handle

* The economy – by 42% to 37%

* Immigration issues – by 40% to 37%

* The federal budget deficit – by 43% to 34%

* The conflict with ISIS – by 42% to 28%

The Democratic Party, rather than the Republican Party is seen as

* Better representing your own personal values – by 44% to 36%

* More concerned with the needs of people like you – by 47% to 33%

* Better understanding the economic problems the people in this country are having – by 42% to 34%

The Democratic party is more trusted to handle

* Health care – by 45% to 37%

* Helping the middle class – by 48% to 33%

* Issues that are especially important to women – by 52% to 25%

The Democratic party is closer to the public’s own opinions on

* Abortion - by 48% to 33%

* Gay marriage – 48% to 31%

[WP/ABC 10/14]

28% of us believe it is better when separate political parties control the White House and the Congress. 30% think is better when the same party controls both ends of the mall. The rest of us don’t think it makes any difference. [Gallup 10/14]

71.4% of Americans 18 years of age and older own/use so-called smart phones. At the other end of the spectrum, less than half of those 65 years of age and older own smartphones. The highest usage is among those 25-34 years of age. Here is the usage scorecard.

25-34 years 86.2%
18-24 years 85%
35-44 years 80.7%
45-54 years 70.8%
55-64 years 61.1%
65+ years 46.3%
  [Nielsen 9/14]

Only 40% of us have confidence in the mass media to “accurately, and fairly” report the news. [Gallup 9/14]

Pew Research has surveyed Americans as to whether they trust various news sources about government and politics. The respondents are broken down by their own description of whether they are “consistently liberal, mostly liberal, ideologically mixed, mostly conservative or consistently conservative.”

The chart below reflects the percentage of those who are “consistently liberal,” “consistently conservative,” and “ideologically mixed” who trust the referenced media.

For example, in the case of NPR, 72% of those who are “consistently liberal,” 3% of those who are “consistently conservative,” and 19% of those who are “ideologically mixed” trust NPR.

Publication Consistently Liberal Consistently Conservative Ideologically Mixed
NPR 72% 3% 19%
BBC 69 12 28
PBS 71 8 31
NY Times 62 3 29
NBC News 56 16 54
CNN 56 14 61
ABC 52 18 56
MSNBC 52 7 39
CBS 51 16 50
Wash Post 48 33 23
FOX News 6 88 47
Sean Hannity Program 0 62 6
Russ Limbaugh Program 0 58 6
Glen Beck Program 0 51 4

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