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Silver: Data Shows Public Supports Agenda in Obama's Speech

This item by J.P. Green was originally published on January 23, 2013.

Now that all the pundits have had their say about President Obama's second inaugural address, Nate Silver brings the data to show what really matters: The public supports the president's agenda. On climate change:

The PollingReport.com database includes two polls on global warming conducted after the Nov. 6 presidential election. An Associated Press-GfK poll in the field from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3 found that 78 percent of respondents said they believed the planet had warmed over the past 100 years, and 49 percent said they thought global warming would be a "very serious" problem for the United States if left unaddressed (31 percent said they thought it would be "somewhat serious").

Fifty-seven percent of the 1,002 adults surveyed said the United States government should do "a great deal" or "quite a bit" on global warming...A United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection poll conducted Nov. 8 to 11 found that 57 percent of adults said they thought global warming was increasing the likelihood of storms like Hurricane Sandy.

On same-sex marriage:

The percentage of adults who favor same-sex marriage has been rising steadily for some time...Five polls on same-sex marriage have been conducted since the election and are included in the PollingReport.com database. Each poll uses slightly different question wording, but an average of 51 percent of respondents favored same-sex marriage and 44 percent opposed it.

On Immigration reform, Silver cites four recent polls, two showing strong majorities favoring a path to citizenship similar to what the president supports and two showing healthy pluralities supporting the president's proposals.

On gun violence, different polls on various reforms bring a mixed message, but more favorable to Obama's proposals than not:

...a New York Times/CBS News poll found that 54 percent of respondents favored tighter gun laws, up from 39 percent in a CBS News poll last April...A Jan. 17 Gallup poll found 53 percent of adults said they would want their representative to vote for the package of gun law reforms that Mr. Obama proposed. Forty-one percent said they would want their representative to oppose the laws.

...The most recent Fox News poll found that 51 percent of respondents said that "protecting the constitutional right of citizens to own guns" was more important than "protecting citizens from gun violence." Forty percent of those surveyed said protecting citizens was more important...In the same Fox News poll, laws requiring criminal background checks and mental health checks on all gun buyers were both favored by more than 80 percent of respondents. (That's in line with virtually every recent poll on guns. The Times/CBS News poll found that 92 percent of respondents favored background checks on all potential gun buyers.)

...Recent polls have found that support for a ban on assault rifles and semiautomatic weapons as well as a ban on high-capacity magazines usually falls in the low 50s to low 60s.

In his speech the president said, "Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote." Silver cites "a solid majority favoring such laws." Silver did not discuss restrictions on early voting opposed by Democrats in general. But heavy participation rates indicate that it is overwhelmingly popular with voters.

Republican commentators are still parroting their message du jour that the president's speech was somehow polarizing. Not really. Their knee-jerk response is to oppose everything he proposes. But the public clearly supports the president's speech agenda in almost every instance -- often by overwhelming margins.