September 17, 2010

Poll Watch: 9/17/10

The US Census Bureau released a report showing the official poverty rate in America in 2009 was 14.3%,which equates to some 43.6 million of us, compared to 39.8 million in 2008.  

To put that number in perspective, it's roughly equal to the  the 2009 population of the 39 largest cities in the US: that would be everyone in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, Detroit, San Francisco, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Austin, Columbus, Fort Worth, Charlotte, Memphis, Boston, Baltimore, El Paso, Seattle, Nashville, Milwaukee, Washington DC, Las Vegas, Louisville, Portland OR, Oklahoma City, Tucson, Atlanta, Albuquerque, Kansas City MO, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, and Mesa AZ.  

Also in the report: for the first time in 23 years, the number of people who have health insurance actually dropped – 1.5 million folks who had insurance in 2008 no longer have it today. There are also shifts in how we are insured - the number of people with private health insurance decreased by about 6.6 million people, and the number of people with government health insurance increased by about 5.8 million people. All of the gory details can be found hereThese numbers are at once fascinating and horrifying, embarrassing and frightening. America should be able to do better.

According to a new CBS/NY Times poll, more than three quarters of us (78%) feel that it’s time for most members of Congress to go, and more than half of us think it’s time for our own representatives to go. What’s interesting about the ‘most should go’ sentiment is that since 1994, the number feeling this way has never been lower than 64%. For Dubya’s midterms, the percentages were 76% in 2006 and 70% in 2002, not a whole lot better than President Obama’s.

Interestingly, folks are evenly split on the personal financial impact that will come from whether Dems or Reps have control of Congress. If Dems retain control, 16% feel they will be better off, 23% say they’ll be worse off, but 57% say there will be no difference. If the Reps gain control, 17% say they’ll be better off, 18% worse off, and 59% say no difference. 

Also noteworthy, 46% of respondents view Sarah Palin unfavorably, and both her favorable and unfavorable numbers are going south compared to last month. This is the part that CBS chose to highlight, and while I’m always happy when people don’t fall into the Palin Trap, it’s hardly the most important revelation in the survey. What will be most interesting is if we rise to the occasion in the voting booth, and actually get rid of the folks in Washington. You can read the full poll here.

Fox News highlights  a drop in President Obama’s approval rating in their latest poll – down four points to 42% since early September. On the other hand, 66% approve of the job Hillary Clinton is doing (even 42% of Reps approve).  And, while 70% feel nervous about the economy, 78% feel at least somewhat confident about their own economic situation.

Regarding health care, here’s a sample: Do you favor repealing the health care reform law to keep it from going into effect (44% yes), or would you oppose repealing it? 43% say don’t repeal. Back in April, the choices were: implement the bill as is (12%), make changes (47%), or repeal (36%). Without the ‘make changes’ choice, it’s hard to really tell whether or not opinions have really changed.  There’s lots of other fun stuff in the poll, which you can read here.

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