The middle class

The Meaning of Middle Class

On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has said, “We need to make the middle class mean something again.”  What does being middle class mean to Americans, and has the meaning changed? A review of public opinion on the middle class, from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research archives: Who considers themselves middle class? Since the earliest polling, very few Americans have been willing to call themselves either upper or lower class. Most of the country see themselves as middle-class or working class, though preference between those two terms shifts frequently. In 2014, 49% described themselves as middle class and
First Ladies

Then and Now: First Ladies

There are few roles in American politics that are as visible and yet as nebulous as that of First Lady. Attempts to define and measure that role go back to the dawn of modern polling, with Gallup finding in December 1938 that two of every three Americans approved of “the way Mrs. Roosevelt has conducted herself as 'First Lady'.” Eleanor Roosevelt’s extremely active role in policy and publicity was a first for the President’s spouse, of course [or at least since Dolly Madison, but accurate polling data on her is not easily obtainable]. Her primary efforts were in the area
Nuclear power plant

Energy Solution or Accident Waiting to Happen? The Public and Nuclear Power

The meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi revitalized the public debate over the value and safety of nuclear energy. Do Americans see a nuclear plant as a devastating accident waiting to happen – or the solution to climate change? From the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research archives: Early polling on nuclear energy Americans believed in the potential for nuclear power from the first years after WWII. Forty-eight percent of the country in a 1945 NORC poll said they expected atomic power to be put to general everyday use by industry with ten years; 22% thought between 11 and 50 years,
Public attitudes about Mental Health

Public Attitudes about Mental Health

Mental health care in the U.S. underwent significant changes over the past decade. New regulations mandated increases in mental health coverage, while state budget cuts for mental health services have resulted in the largest total cuts to such spending since the 1970s. But what does the public think? From the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research archives: Experience of mental health issues Pollsters face a dilemma when asking about an issue as sensitive as personal experience with mental illness. Significant underreporting is to be expected. But even given this caveat, polling reveals that Americans have a great deal of personal
Age at retirement

When I’m 64, or Maybe 63? Public Views about Retirement Age

Many Baby Boomers are facing a difficult decision: when to retire? Their personal choices are being made in the context of a longstanding debate about the appropriate age for workers to leave the workforce. What Americans think about age and retirement, from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research Archives: Mandatory retirement age While in recent years public controversy about retirement age has centered around how long workers need to stay in the workforce to ensure financial stability in retirement, in earlier decades the contentious issue was mandatory retirement – forcing workers to retire before they wished to. In 1955,
Public funds, private education

Public Funds, Private Education: What the Polls Say

Government aid to private schools, vouchers, private educational contractors - the lines between public and private in the world of education are ever-shifting. Policies that push these boundaries are often challenged in both the legal system and the court of public opinion. A look back at how Americans have seen the relationship between the public schools and private education, from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research archives: Federal dollars, private schools The earliest questions on the use of public funding for private education asked if federal education aid should be extended to private and parochial schools. In 1938, a
The American Public and Israel

The American Public and Israel

When Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Congress at their invitation, many U.S. leaders marked the occasion by affirming their commitment to the special relationship between the States and Israel. But how do the American people feel? Do Americans support their government’s policy toward Israel, and have their feelings changed over the years? (more…)
/ by / in diplomacy, israel, Issue Briefs
Selma march

Andrew Kohut on the Anniversary of the Selma March

On March 7, 1965, black Americans marched on Selma, Alabama in an effort to secure the civil rights that had been withheld from them and were met with brutality.  (more…)
shuttle-launch-300

Fly Me to the Moon – The Public and NASA

On March 3, 1915, the U.S. government established the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, or NACA. In 1958, NACA became NASA. In polls in the years since, the American public has shown pride in the country’s accomplishments in space exploration, along with concern about the costs involved. (more…)
/ by / in Issue Briefs, nasa, space
cuba diplomatic-relations-lrg

Then and Now: Relations with Cuba

The prospect of the U.S. normalizing relations with Cuba is the latest twist in the long story of the two nations’ interactions since Teddy Roosevelt led the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill in July 1898. Following Castro’s rise to power in 1959, the abortive Bay of Pigs invasion of 1960 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 brought the US and Cuba near open conflict and the US and the USSR to the brink of nuclear war. It was not until the early 1970s, following Nixon’s rapprochement with China, that the issue of restoring ties with Cuba came back
/ by / in cuba, diplomacy, Issue Briefs
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