Democrats

A Peek at American Pride Before Independence Day

As Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day, a new Gallup poll reveals a continuing decline in national pride that reflects polarized political views, discontent with US welfare and health care systems and deep disappointment in the US political system.

As Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day, a new Gallup poll reveals a continuing decline in national pride that reflects polarized political views, discontent with US welfare and health care systems and deep disappointment in the US political system.

American overall pride in their country has dipped to the lowest point since Gallup started asking the poll question in 2001. Democrats are mostly responsible for the decline in pride.

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“Record-low American patriotism is the latest casualty of the sharply polarized political climate in the U.S. today,” Gallup said of its poll conducted in June. “For the second time in 19 years, fewer than half of U.S. adults say they are extremely proud to be Americans. The decline reflects plummeting pride among Democrats since Trump took office, even as Republican pride has edged higher.” 

Before jumping to a conclusion about who is and isn’t patriotic, Gallup asked revealing questions that help to pinpoint the decline in pride:

  • 91% of Americans take pride in American scientific achievements.

  • 89% are proud of the US military.

  • 85% are proud of American culture and arts.

  • 75% are proud of American economic achievements.

  • 73% are proud of American sporting achievements.

  • 72% are proud of US diversity in race, ethnic background and religion.

America is off track on its health, welfare and political systems.

  • Only 37% of Americans take pride in US health and welfare system.

  • Only 32% take pride in the American political system.

There is an unmistakable division between Republicans, Democrats and Independents and a noticeable difference between older and younger adults.

  • 76% of Republicans are extremely proud of America contrasted to only 41% of Independents and 22% of Democrats.

  • 63% of adults 65 or older are extremely proud of America compared to 24% of adults between the ages of 18-29.

Gallup said the highest expressions of pride in country occurred immediately after the 9/11 terror attack in New York.

Viewers Express Exhaustion with Relentless Flow of Bad News

The news can be relentless, negative and evidently exhausting, according to a New Pew Research survey. There are antidotes ranging from not watching TV, tuning into social media or asking Google to search for good news. But negative news remains alluring and as addictive as nicotine.

The news can be relentless, negative and evidently exhausting, according to a New Pew Research survey. There are antidotes ranging from not watching TV, tuning into social media or asking Google to search for good news. But negative news remains alluring and as addictive as nicotine.

Americans admit to being exhausted by the news, which can seem relentlessly negative and depressing.

According to a new Pew Research survey, Republicans admit to more fatigue than Democrats. News fatigue is more common among people who follow the news less frequently and have a lower regard for the news media. White Americans report noticeably greater news fatigue than African-Americans or Latinos.

“If you feel like there is too much news and you can’t keep up, you are not alone,” writes Jeffrey Gottfried and Michael Barthel of the Pew Research Center. “Almost seven-in-10 Americans (68%) feel worn out by the amount of news there is these days, compared with only three-in-10 who say they like the amount of news they get.”

The news tends to exhaust Republicans more (77%) than Democrats (61%), which probably has something to do with the content of the news. The Pew researchers note, “This elevated fatigue among Republicans tracks with them having less enthusiasm than Democrats for the 2018 elections.”

There are noteworthy demographic differences on the news fatigue curve. Women express more exhaustion than men. College graduates feel slightly more worn out than high school graduates. Older adults are less fatigued than younger adults. 

In light of all this exhaustion, Google has stepped in with relief from too much “negative news” by offering an assist from Google Assistant. Just say, “Hey Google, tell me something good.” Google Assistant then provides a summary of stories about “people who are solving problems for our communities and our world.” Many of the stories are plucked from the Solutions Journalism Network, which isn’t a regular contributor to mainstream news feeds.

However, the BBC says even though people may be fatigued by negative news, they are drawn to it like moths to bright light. “It isn’t just schadenfreude, we’ve evolved to react quickly to potential threats. Bad news could be a signal that we need to change what we’re doing to avoid danger.” We watch negative news for the same reasons we are drawn to the Walking Dead.

The New York Times published an article last year that suggested the more news people consume makes them yearn for “emotionality” in coverage, which often translates into negative stories. “Negativity is emphasized to keep [viewers] engaged,” according to a British psychology professor, Graham C.L. Davey. Negative news is apparently as addictive as nicotine.

One solution to “living in a Superconducting Super Collider of news with information bombarding us at a head-spinning velocity” is simply to turn to “slow news,” according to Dan Gillmor, a professor of media literacy at Arizona State University. Slow news could be as simple as plodding along without checking social media and news websites every few minutes.

News fatigue runs in cycles, often on the same wavelength as elections. As election day approaches and there is exponentially more political news, news watchers grow weary. Despite being tired, like campers who pulled an all-nighter around a campfire, they still have to watch the news so they don’t miss the latest sliver of negative news.

We do a lot of things when we are bone-tired. Watching the news, it turns out, is one of them.

Gary Conkling Image.jpg

Gary Conkling is principal and co-founder of CFM Strategic Communications, and he leads the firm's PR practice, specializing in crisis communications. He is a former journalist, who later worked on Capitol Hill and represented a major Oregon company. But most importantly, he’s a die-hard Ducks fan. You can reach Gary at garyc@cfmpdx.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @GaryConkling. 


Poll Shows Polarization Affects Brand, Media Views

Recent polling reveals political polarization has spilled over into net brand favorability ratings, with sharply disparate views of everything from Trump Hotels to the NFL to Starbucks. Some of the most notable partisan differences are on media outlets.

Recent polling reveals political polarization has spilled over into net brand favorability ratings, with sharply disparate views of everything from Trump Hotels to the NFL to Starbucks. Some of the most notable partisan differences are on media outlets.

Voters in America are polarized and that polarization has spilled over onto brand favorability, according to Axios.

Brands such as the NFL, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A and Trump Hotels are viewed differently through a polarized lens. Some of the most disparate political favorability ratings attach to media companies.

“The only media outlets preferred by Republicans over Democrats are Fox, Fox Business and Breitbart,” Axios reported. “Most entertainment outlets listed, like Comedy Central, HBO and MTV, are much more widely favored by Democrats.”

The net brand favorability gaps between partisans are based on polling by Morning Consult of adults taken from last October through January 2018.

Not surprisingly, the largest gap is for Trump Hotels, with Democrats and Republicans split on their views by 80 percentage points. Democrats give Trump Hotels nearly a 50-point negative rating.

CNN has the second largest gap, with Republicans giving it a negative favorability rating of 15 percent while Democrats rate it favorably at more than 50 percent.

The gaps are significant, but it is equally interesting to note that only 11 of the 30 brands have any negative rating, and most of those are relatively minor.

For example, Starbucks, which has provoked conservative angst, enjoys a nearly 50 percent favorability rating by Democrats and a 25 percent rating by Republicans.  Cabelas, known for selling guns, has a better than 50 percent favorability rating by Republicans and around 30 percent by Democrats. Chick-fil-A, which has faced pushback from LBGTQ advocates, enjoys a Republican favorability rating around 60 percent and a Democratic favorability rating of 30 percent.

While there are stark differences of opinion about well known media brands, overall the ratings are favorable, even for Fox News. Republicans give it more than a 50 percent favorability rating, but Democrats are basically neutral on the network.  The New York Times, which is frequently targeted in Trump tweets, received a 50+ percent favorability rating from Democrats and a slightly positive rating from Republicans.

The biggest negative ratings from Democrats, in order, were for Trump Hotels (40+ percent), Breitbart (20+ percent), Halliburton (15 percent) and Koch Industries (10+ percent). The biggest negative ratings from Republicans, also in order, were for CNN (15 percent) and the NFL (12 percent). The Washington Post, HuffPost, MSNBC and BET had negative ratings of 5 percent or less from Republicans.

 

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A Death Sentence for a Dying Punishment

A jury sentenced Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death today, but by the time all his appeals have been exhausted American attitudes toward the death penalty may have shift to opposition.

A jury sentenced Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death today, but by the time all his appeals have been exhausted American attitudes toward the death penalty may have shift to opposition.

A  jury today sentenced convicted Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to the death penalty, as support among Americans for the death penalty is declining, but still the majority view.

Pew Research conducted a poll in April that found 56 percent of Americans support the death penalty and 38 percent oppose it. In 1995, 78 percent of Americans favored the death penalty, but support has sharply declined ever since. Opposition to the death penalty bottomed out in 1995 at 18 percent and has steadily climbed.

The Pew poll indicated only 40 percent of Democrats support the death penalty, compared to 77 percent of Republicans.

Viewpoints among racial groups vary widely. Sixty-three percent of whites favor the death penalty, contrasted to 34 percent of blacks and 45 percent of Hispanics. Seventy-seven percent of blacks say minorities are more likely to receive death sentences for similar crimes committed by whites. Whites are evenly divided on the issue of disproportionate death sentences.

Attitudes about the death penalty vary widely between supporters and opponents. For example, 90 percent of those who favor the death penalty view it as morally justified, while only 26 percent of opponents agree it is morally justified. Forty-two percent of supporters believe minorities are more likely to be sentenced to death, while 68 percent of opponents hold that belief.

Interestingly, 49 percent of death penalty supporters doubt it as a deterrent to crime; 78 percent of opponents share that doubt. Sixty-three percent of supporters and 84 percent of opponents acknowledge "some risk of putting innocent people to death."

Data shows death row executions peaked in 1999 and have fallen since then. Six states have abolished the death penalty since 2004. By far and away, the largest percentage of executions occur in Southern states.

Another factor influencing views about the death penalty is how long appeals take, leaving people on death rows for decades. Critics of the death penalty have pointed to the extra judicial and incarceration costs posed by death sentences.

The Boston jury's verdict today won't be the last word on Tsarnaev's death sentence, which could take years to unfold. By then, support for the death penalty may have eroded even further.

Confidence in Congress Continues to Drop

Confidence in Congress has reached the lowest point ever, according to the latest Gallup Poll rating confidence in 16 institutions.Americans gave Congress a resounding thumbs down in the annual Gallup Poll® rating confidence in institutions released this week.

Among 16 institutions, Congress rated dead last. Just 10 percent said they had a great deal or quite of lot of confidence in it.

Congress has trailed all other institutions since 2006 when its ratings fell below big business. Current ratings for Congress are the lowest Gallop has found for any institution, ever.

Ratings were not driven by partisanship. Marks for Congress were statistically the same among Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

On the other hand, Americans have the most confidence in the military (76 percent great deal/quite a lot), followed by small business (65 percent) and the police (57 percent).

What’s your Voting IQ?

With Election Day in Oregon only two weeks away, how aware are voters about platforms of the two major political parties?

One letter writer to The Oregonian humorously suggested that “Democrats always seem to rail primarily about what they have seen Republicans do in the recent past, while Republicans always seem to rant primarily what they imagine Democrats will do in the near future.” 

That’s an amusing bit of analysis but, according to the latest “The News IQ Quiz” by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, not the right answer to the question: “What [does] the public know about political parties?” 

Before reading the rest of this blog, take the quiz and see where you rank in comparison to about 1,000 other Americans, Click to take the quiz

What was your score? Thirteen questions are asked and a majority of those surveyed could correctly answer at least 10. As far as what they know, American’s are more aware of the positions of party leaders than they are of the positions advocated by Republican or Democratic parties, according to the survey. 

“Most Americans can correctly identify the relative positions of the Republican and Democratic parties on the major issues of the day. But a review of what Americans know about the political parties shows that the public is better informed about the partisan affiliations of two popular recent presidents — Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton — than it is about the positions of the parties on key issues that dominate the current national debate,” Pew editors say.

“About seven in 10 (71 percent) know that the Republican Party is considered to be the more conservative party. And majorities can correctly place the parties relative to each other on current issues that define the liberal-conservative divide, such as taxes, gay rights, abortion, and defense spending,” the survey report states.