Although many survey questions you hear about show close to a 50/50 split in public opinion, there are still many questions that offer nearly unanimous agreement and probably help to define who we are as a Nation in terms of core values and beliefs. I have always wondered what these key issues are, so over the last few years I have gathered up as many of these “over-80 percent” responses as I could easily locate. They come in two kinds of statistical samples: biased and un-biased.
The only correct way to survey people’s opinions is through a carefully designed randomized survey to eliminate biases that would skew the results. The answers you get from these surveys are probably the most reliable. After each question I give the response and its percentage, the number of people in the sample, the name of the surveyor, and the date. Many of these surveys are by land-line telephone, so a fair question is: Are people that answer their land-lines typical of the general population today?
Do you use your seatbelt? Yes=98 percent (1500, Washington state poll, Traffic Safety Commission 9/23/2010)
Do you believe that man-made climate change is real? Yes=97 percent (1372 scientists, National Academy of Science, 6/22/2010)
Do you play video games? Yes = 97 percent (1102 children ages12-17, Pew Internet and American Life Project, 9/17/2008)
Do you broadcast your location on the Internet using location-based services? No = 96 percent (1500, Forrester Research, 8/30/2010)
Do you believe in a God? Yes = 95 percent (1500, Gallop Poll, 3/29/2001)
Do you want stronger protection for your Internet privacy? Yes=94 percent (2117, Pew Internet and American Life Project, 5/2000 )
Are the Arts vital to providing a well-rounded education to children?Yes=93 percent (1000, Harris Poll, 6/13/2005)
Would you vote for a woman for President? Yes=92 percent (1229, CBS News/New York Times, 2/5/2006 )
Would you stop doing business with a company because of bad service?Yes = 87 percent (2000, Harris Interactive,10/8/2008)
Do you use the print version of the Yellow Pages phone book? Yes = 87 percent (9008, Knowledge Network/SRI Industry Usage Study, 2/26/2008)
Do you think that English should be the official language of the US? Yes= 87 percent (1000, Rassmussen Report, 5/11 /2010)
Do you think it is important for America to use and develop solar energy?Yes=92 percent (1000 online survey, SCHOTT Solar Barometer; Kelton Research, 10/8/2009)
Do you think the federal government is broken? Yes= 86 percent (1023, CNN/Opinion Research Poll, 2/22/2010)
Would you prefer to stop using paper and go Green? Yes=85 percent (1000, Harris Interactive/DocuSign Inc, 6/30/2010)
Should you have to prove you are a citizen before you receive healthcare in the U.S.? Yes=83 percent (1500, Rassmussen Report, 9/7/2009)
Do you shop ‘Green? Yes = 82 percent (1000, Opinion Research Corporation, 2/6/2009)
Do you favor legalizing marijuana for medical use? Yes=81 percent (1083, ABC/Washington Post, 1/18/2010)
Is a car a necessity? Yes=86 percent (2967, Pew Research, 4/2/2009)
Do you think the government will make progress on important issues?No=90 percent (1010, Pew Research, 9/23/2010)
In the future, will computers be able to talk to humans? Yes=81 percent (1546, Pew Research, 6/22/2010 )
Do you know what Twitter is? Yes= 85 percent (1007, Pew Research, 7/15/2010)
Is President Obama a Muslim? No = 82 percent (3003 adults; Pew Research 8/19/2010)
Has science had a positive effect on society? Yes = 84 percent (2001, Pew Research, 7/9/2009)
Is climate change a serious threat and are you willing to make sacrifices to combat it? Yes=80 percent (1000, Institution of Civil Engineers, 11/20/2009)
Do you live in a house with at least one cellphone? Yes = 90 percent (3001, Pew Research Center, 2/4/2011)
Will you be eating Thanksgiving meal with family? Yes= 89 percent (2691, USA Today, 11/30/2011)
Did you make a good investment getting your undergraduate degree? Yes= 89 percent (1500, American Council on Education Winston Group survey, 12/30/2010)
Biased but Interesting Surveys
Biased surveys a not regulated (a person can vote multiple times) and often ask you to vote online, or are conducted by institutions that have a point to make and could be suspected of selecting in advance the people they want to survey that are like-minded (e.g. Fox News). In the results below I have selected CNN.com’s daily online voting results because they were easily available. CNN readers are in equal shares, Liberal, Moderate and Conservative. In addition 50 percent are Democrats and 16 percent are Republicans. Of course ,all have access to the internet and are not surveyed by land-line telephone so they probably represent a younger population.
Do you think Japan should become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council? ” Yes = 94 percent (924,421, 4/12/2005 )
Do you think pornographic websites should have their own XXX domain?Yes=83% (240,000, 6/28/2010)
Do you know how you will vote in the mid-term elections? Yes=90 percent (30799, 10/21/2010 )
Is it time to break out of the two-party political system? Yes = 84 percent (26837, 10/26/2010)
Do political TV ads influence your vote? Yes = 83 percent(70588, 10/27/2010)
Did you brave the crowds and shop on Black Friday? No=84 percent (112322, 11/27/2010)
What do you think of a publisher’s decision to remove the N-word from Huckleberry Finn? Disapprove = 92 percent (44377, 1/7/2011)
Will you be upgrading to or buying the iPhone 5 when it is launched?No=85 percent (188292, 4/6/2011)
Do you think there may be life on planets other than Earth? Yes = 88 percent (243250, 5/22/2011)
Is raising a child free of gender roles a good idea? No=85 percent (198329, 5/27/2011)
Do you approve of the performance of your congressional representatives?
No=86 percent (123776, 8/3/2011)
Have you lost confidence in the ability of world leaders to tackle economic problems? Yes=86 percent (187969, 9/16/2011)
Should states require welfare recipients to pass drug tests?
Yes = 80 percent (170382, 10/26/2011)
Do you snack on grocery store food before you buy it?
No=89 percent (59894, 11/4/2011)
Are you ready to “boot out” your representative in Congress?
Yes=81 percent (89916, 12/10/2011)
Should racist remarks be subject to criminal prosecution?
No=86 percent (106918, 12/22/2011)
Should convicted murderers be eligible for full pardons?
No = 86 percent (86970, 1/12/2012)
Things we should agree on but don’t.
There are also many issues we should agree on but don’t. It doesn’t matter how much money we invest in ‘public education’. The general public simply doesn’t get it on many significant issues…and they vote accordingly. Here are some of my favorites, sad to say.
Does Ebola spread easily? No=27 perent (1025, Harvard School of Public Health, 8/13/2014)
Are childhood vaccines safe and effective? Yes=53 percent (1012, AP/GFK Poll, 3/24/2014)
Did the universe begin with a huge explosion? Yes= 38 percent (1500, National Science Board,2014 )
Have humans and other living things evolved over time? Yes=60 percent ( 1983, Pew Research, 3/8/2013)
Would you support a candidate who advocate carbon emission reduction?Yes=68 percent (2105, University of Texas, 9/4/2014)