Friday, April 4, 2008

Are Americans Aware After All?

The American fascination for surveys has taken a dive lately, because of the many "mis-predictions and forecasts" that followed the US presidential primaries. Several political pundits tried to save their reputations by interjecting the word "surprise", "sudden surge", "massive turnout of base supporters" and "phenomenal", to make it appear that the result did not follow a logical mathematical pattern; giving them an excuse for the miscalculation.

Another survey conducted by CBS News and the New York Times released Thursday expressed that more than 81% of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, an increase of 12% from last year's 69%, and shooting up by 46% from 35% in early 2002. Seventy eight percent of respondents also said that the country was worse off than five years ago. The respondents are said to be Democrats, Republicans, Men, Women, urbanites and rural dwellers, college graduates and high school graduates. The survey findings blame government officials for the housing crisis and 53% say they favor government assistance for those with mortgage problems. Sixty six percent believe America is already in recession.

Surveys reflect what people believe based on their perceptions of situations and events. In this particular survey, which has a margin of sampling error of + - 3%, Americans are either pessimistic about their immediate future and are resigned to accept difficulties and live with it; or, they are annoyed at the turn of events and would want to do something about it soonest, to get over the hump and shorten the inconvenience of the current slump. Acting on their beliefs, Americans may resort to conservation, cost cutting, practical and modest consumer spending, and perhaps even saving for tighter days ahead. The survey asked general questions that did not specify what direction America is going into and what direction it should go to. This would perhaps elicit more than a thousand answers, depending on respondents' positions in the political spectrum.

Contrast this survey with another recent poll carried out by the BBC World Service in 34 countries with 17,000 total respondents, which suggest that people who believe America has a positive influence globally increased from 31% a year ago to 35% this year. This is the first time in 3 years that a positive growth in US perception has been registered after 3 successive years of decline. Analysts say that the improved perception is linked to the forthcoming presidential elections. The hope that a new administration will veer away from foreign policies that have been so unpopular in the world mitigates the views of global citizens about the US. Voices other than those of President Bush have been making comments about what the US should be doing, and the world hears these and sees that change may be expected with a new President.

Summing up, Americans are dissatisfied with the direction the US took; the world at large reacted to the unpopular foreign policy of the US with regard to the war in Iraq. The dissatisfaction of Americans may not directly correlate with the Iraq war but both are concerned with directions that have not been acceptable. The world is expecting a change in foreign policy with a new President; Americans want to change or move out of their present domestic predicament.

Are the perceptions of Americans regarding its future leaders running parallel with the rest of the world? Are they aware of the need to make changes? The specific reasons may be different but are the movements leading towards the same direction? Will Americans vote the Democrats into the White House this November? The answer will be in the ballot.



Kim said...

very interesting statistics Durano...
I believe that the Americans are hoping for a positive change with a new government...
as I see it ...things couldn't get much worse for the conditions of your average US I'm hoping that the 'people' of America get it right :)

Zhu said...

French were into surveys as well till the presidential elections of 2002. That year, all surveys predicted left-wing vs. right-wing... and the outcome was right-wing vs. the nazi party (!). Surveys were accused of influencing voters... now people don't trust them so much.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,

Americans were crazy in electing George Bush twice over, but I'm hoping they're not yet out of their minds and get it right this election.

The country has moved into a recession since January as I mentioned in a post at that time, but no official statement admitting it, was ever released. It's a political stand to neither confirm nor deny. Now, Americans know it except it's officials. The Fed Chairman could only say what was closest to the truth, that "A recession is possible during the first half". They are already in it!

The Labor Department Report on job layoffs and unemployment is inescapable. Hard times are ahead, especially for the US; a consequence of the War on Terror, Corporate Greed, a consumerist lifestyle, a borrowing rather than saving mentality that mortgages the future for the present, and a society that needs structural repair and a community rather than individual orientation.

Thanks for your pleasing presence...:-)--Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Zhu,

Surveys can be manipulated and can definitely influence thinking and action.

Those that are spurious will taint even those that are conducted with integrity. The result will be as you say, people will not trust them any longer.

Americans are very much into surveys and are guided by it; either by pursuing and strengthening the results or initiating actions to counter them.

I don't know what will happen to those found manipulating these results. If only one would do such thing and the subject weighs heavily on the citizens, and is found to be manipulated - all surveys there could be discredited. But, who would want to sacrifice their careers in the US huh? If they want to believe these surveys, that's their decision. This particular survey however seems to carry the citizens sentiments accurately. :-)--Durano, done!