Political Attitudes and Public Opinion

Source and Methodological Information

List of Indicators

Percent Agreeing that American Society is Divided into Haves and Have-Nots

Percent Agreeing that Regulation of Business Usually Does More Harm than Good

Percent Agreeing that Government Should Take Care of People Who Can’t Take Care of Themselves

Percent Agreeing that People like Themselves Have Good Chance of Improving Standard of Living

Percent Reporting that their Financial Situation Got Worse During the Last Few Years

Percent with a Great Deal of Confidence in Major Companies

Percent with a Great Deal of Confidence in Banks and Financial Institutions

Percent with a Great Deal of Confidence in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government

Percent with a Great Deal of Confidence in Congress

Percent Who Think People Get Ahead by Hard Work

Percent of Population Identifying as Democrat

Percent of Population Identifying as Republican

Percent of Population Identifying as Independent

 


Percent Agreeing that American Society is Divided into Haves and Have-Nots

Description

Percent of population who agree that they “think of America as divided into haves and have-nots.”

Source

Pew Research Center, People and the Press Polls

Methodological Notes

The exact question wording is, “Some people think of American society as divided into two groups, the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots,’ while others think it’s incorrect to think of America that way. Do you, yourself, think of America as divided into haves and have-nots, or don’t you think of America that way?” Answer choices are “yes, divided” and “no.”  

This question is included in more than one poll in some years, but the data are based on only one poll per year.  The polls used were conducted in June 2001, February 2004, March 2005, September 2006, July 2007, January 2008, March 2009, April 2010, and December 2011.

 


Percent Agreeing that Regulation of Business Usually Does More Harm than Good

Description

Percent of population that “completely agrees” or “mostly agrees” that government regulation of business usually does more harm than good.

Source

Pew Research Center, People and the Press Polls.

Methodological Notes

The exact question wording is, “Now I am going to read you a series of statements that will help us understand how you feel about a number of things. For each statement, please tell me if you completely agree with it, mostly agree with it, mostly disagree with it, or completely disagree with it... Government regulation of business usually does more harm than good.” 

This question was asked in polls conducted in April 1987, May 1988, May 1990, May 1992, July 1994, November 1997, September 1999, July 2002, July 2003, December 2006, March 2009, September 2011, and September 2012.

 


Percent Agreeing that Government Should Take Care of People Who Can’t Take Care of Themselves

Description

Percent of population who “completely agree” or “mostly agree” that it is the responsibility of the government to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves.

Source

Pew Research Center, People and the Press Polls

Methodological Notes

The exact question wording is, “Now I am going to read you another series of statements on some different topics. For each statement, please tell me if you completely agree with it, mostly agree with it, mostly disagree with it, or completely disagree with it... It is the responsibility of the government to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves.” 

This question was asked in polls conducted in April 1987, May 1988, May 1990, May 1992, May 1993, July 1994, November 1997, September 1999, July 2002, July 2003, December 2006, March 2009, September 2011, and April 2012.

 


Percent Agreeing that People like Themselves Have Good Chance of Improving Standard of Living

Description

Percent of population that “strongly agrees” or “agrees” that people like themselves and their families have a good chance of improving their standard of living. 

Source

General Social Survey, 1987-2010. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality used the Survey Documentation and Analysis interface administered by the University of California, Berkeley, to generate the data.

Methodological Notes

The exact question wording is, “The way things are in America, people like me and my family have a good chance of improving our standard of living. Do you agree or disagree?”  Answer choices are “strongly agree,” “agree,” “neither,” “disagree,” and “strongly disagree.” A small number of respondents said they could not choose.

 


Percent Reporting that their Financial Situation Got Worse During the Last Few Years

Description

Percent of population reporting that their financial situation has been getting worse during the last few years. 

Source

General Social Survey, 1987-2010. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality used the Survey Documentation and Analysis interface administered by the University of California, Berkeley, to generate the data.

Methodological Notes

The exact question wording is, “During the last few years, has your financial situation been getting better, worse, or has it stayed the same?” A small number of respondents said they did not know. 

 


Percent with a Great Deal of Confidence in Major Companies

Description

Percent of population that reports having a great deal of confidence in the people who run major companies.

Source

General Social Survey, 1987-2010. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality used the Survey Documentation and Analysis interface administered by the University of California, Berkeley, to generate the data.

Methodological Notes

The exact question wording is, “I am going to name some institutions in this country. As far as the people running these institutions are concerned, would you say you have a great deal of confidence, only some confidence, or hardly any confidence at all in them?... b. Major companies.” A small number of respondents said they did not know.

 


Percent with a Great Deal of Confidence in Banks and Financial Institutions

Description

Percent of population that reports having a great deal of confidence in the people who run banks and financial institutions.

Source

General Social Survey, 1987-2010. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality used the Survey Documentation and Analysis interface administered by the University of California, Berkeley, to generate the data.

Methodological Notes

The exact question wording is, “I am going to name some institutions in this country. As far as the people running these institutions are concerned, would you say you have a great deal of confidence, only some confidence, or hardly any confidence at all in them?... a. Banks and financial institutions.” A small number of respondents said they did not know.

 


Percent with a Great Deal of Confidence in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government

Description

Percent of population that reports having a great deal of confidence in the people who run the executive branch of the federal government.

Source

General Social Survey, 1987-2010. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality used the Survey Documentation and Analysis interface administered by the University of California, Berkeley, to generate the data.

Methodological Notes

The exact question wording is, “I am going to name some institutions in this country. As far as the people running these institutions are concerned, would you say you have a great deal of confidence, only some confidence, or hardly any confidence at all in them?... e. Executive branch of the federal government.” A small number of respondents said they did not know.

 


Percent with a Great Deal of Confidence in Congress

Description

Percent of population that reports having a great deal of confidence in the people who run Congress.

Source

General Social Survey, 1987-2010. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality used the Survey Documentation and Analysis interface administered by the University of California, Berkeley, to generate the data.

Methodological Notes

The exact question wording is, “I am going to name some institutions in this country. As far as the people running these institutions are concerned, would you say you have a great deal of confidence, only some confidence, or hardly any confidence at all in them?... l. Congress.” A small number of respondents said they did not know.

 


Percent Who Think People Get Ahead by Hard Work

Description

Percent of population that thinks people get ahead by their own hard work, rather than by lucky breaks or help from other people.

Source

General Social Survey, 1987-2010. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality used the Survey Documentation and Analysis interface administered by the University of California, Berkeley, to generate the data.

Methodological Notes

The exact question wording is, “Some people say that people get ahead by their own hard work; others say that lucky breaks or help from other people are more important. Which do you think is most important?” A small number of respondents said they did not know.

 


Percent of Population Identifying as Democrat

Description

Percent of population that thinks of themselves as “strong” or “not strong” Democrats.

Source

General Social Survey, 1987-2010. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality used the Survey Documentation and Analysis interface administered by the University of California, Berkeley, to generate the data.

Methodological Notes

The exact question wording is, “Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as a Republican, Democrat, Independent, or what?” Answer choices are “strong Democrat,” “not strong Democrat,” “Independent, near Democrat,” “Independent,” “Independent, near Republican,” “not strong Republican,” “strong Republican,” or “other party.” A small number of respondents said they did not know.

 


Percent of Population Identifying as Republican

Description

Percent of population that thinks of themselves as “strong” or “not strong” Republicans.

Source

General Social Survey, 1987-2010. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality used the Survey Documentation and Analysis interface administered by the University of California, Berkeley, to generate the data.

Methodological Notes

The exact question wording is, “Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as a Republican, Democrat, Independent, or what?” Answer choices are “strong Democrat,” “not strong Democrat,” “Independent, near Democrat,” “Independent,” “Independent, near Republican,” “not strong Republican,” “strong Republican,” or “other party.” A small number of respondents said they did not know.

 


Percent of Population Identifying as Independent

Description

Percent of population that thinks of themselves as Independents.

Source

General Social Survey, 1987-2010. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality used the Survey Documentation and Analysis interface administered by the University of California, Berkeley, to generate the data.

Methodological Notes

The exact question wording is, “Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as a Republican, Democrat, Independent, or what?” Answer choices are “strong Democrat,” “not strong Democrat,” “Independent, near Democrat,” “Independent,” “Independent, near Republican,” “not strong Republican,” “strong Republican,” or “other party.”  A small number of respondents said they did not know.