60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll: July Edition
Welcome to the "60 Minutes"/Vanity Fair Poll for the month of July. The second half of 2011 officially begins on July 1 and shortly after that we celebrate the 4th of July and America's Independence. Here is a part of John Adams' letter to his wife Abigail about July 2 (he was two days off due to a reprinting of the Declaration). "The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as a day of deliverance by solemn acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp, Parade, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more."
He ended his letter with a more reflective tone, one that is just as relevant today for an America that is still embroiled in two wars and facing many other challenges. "...I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom, I can see rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means." Happy 4th of July to one and all, and now our poll results for July:
- Does a candidate's marital status matter to you?
It has been said that politics makes strange bedfellows, but two thirds of Americans don't care much who their candidate's bedfellow is when they are deciding who to vote for. Seventeen percent said that a candidate's marital status mattered some and 14 percent said it mattered a lot. When it comes to the presidency, there may be a higher standard. The only unmarried president was James Buchanan and the only divorced president was Ronald Reagan.
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- Views of George W. Bush
Fifty six percent of Americans think that George W. Bush was either bad or worse while 37 percent either miss him or think he looks wiser than they thought before. Not surprisingly, only 2 percent of Democrats miss him while nearly half of Republicans do. Not enough time has elapsed for a proper perspective, think of how low Harry Truman's stock was when he left office compared to the appreciation he has received from historians.
- Company you would like to rule the country?
In a future world ruled by corporations, 21 percent chose to be ruled by Google, the master repository of all information (does that sound Orwellian?). Next up with 17 percent is the benevolent dictator of the software world, Microsoft. The only thing that liberal minded Ben and Jerry's has in common with behemoth category killer Wal-Mart is that they each received 10 percent, and money machine Goldman Sachs was last with 3 percent. Twenty three percent of Americans think that they are already living in a country run by corporations, now how did they get that idea?
- How much is too much to charge at an ATM?
With regard to fees, Americans think ATM stands for "Asking Too Much." Another term that comes to mind coined by Ross Perot is "that giant sucking sound" you hear every time you make a withdrawal from one of those ubiquitous machines. The thresholds are 15 percent think $1-$2 is too much, 18 percent say $2-$3, 22 percent say $3-$5 and 21 percent $5 or more. Affluent Americans appeared more willing to tolerate paying the fees.
- Do you ever fantasize about living "off the grid"?
Sixty percent of Americans do not fantasize about living off the grid. They tend to be politically moderate, affluent and satisfied with their situations. On the other hand, 37 percent sometimes fantasize about avoiding the long gaze of "Big Brother." They tend to be younger, less affluent and more libertarian or independent minded. What's the moral of the story? Be careful what you wish for - you might get it.
- Should more bankers be investigated for the crash of 2008?
It's tough to get 80 percent of Americans to agree on anything, but they agree that more investigations into 2008's financial meltdown are necessary. Only 11 percent feel that enough bankers and financiers have been prosecuted or charged already. It appears that lawyers and politicians have a mandate and an incentive to keep investigating. What's the incentive? It actually makes them look better by comparison.
- When it comes to killing Osama bin Laden, would you rather be...?
A third of Americans would have wanted to be the Navy Seal that pulled the trigger ending Osama bin Laden's reign of terror. Seventeen percent would not have wanted to either give or receive the order. Forty two percent would have chosen to be the Commander-in-Chief who gave the order and why not? In many people's opinions that moment could go down as among the best of Mr. Obama's presidency.
- From what you know, is Harper Lee a...?
Only 35 percent of Americans remembered Harper Lee as the Pulitzer Prize winning author of "To Kill a Mockingbird." The semi- reclusive writer published no more books and appears to be losing out to the sands of time. More than half of Americans did not know who she is, but more younger people tend to know her by virtue of the fact that her hauntingly beautiful story is still required reading in many schools.
- When do you think a child is too old to be living at home with their parents?
Surprisingly almost half of the respondents don't feel a child is ever too old to live at home with their parents. Twenty one percent say it's time to move when you get married, 18 percent when you get a full time job and 11 percent when you finish school. There's a famous saying: "You can't go home again" from the title of a novel by Thomas Wolfe. It implied that previous generations thought that grown children who returned home to live with parents were either failures or trying in vain to recapture a lost way of life. In today's world, whether it is due to financial necessity or relaxed societal judgments, that is no longer the case.
- Have you ever looked up a map to see if there are registered sex offenders in your neighborhood?
Just over half of Americans claim to have looked at a map of registered sex offenders to see if there are any living in their neighborhood. The other half have not. The number of people researching maps swells to 70 percent if they have a child under the age of 18.
- How curious are you about your own ancestry?
Nearly 8 out of 10 Americans are either very or at least somewhat curious about their ancestry. The remaining 20 percent are not very interested or already know enough. America's melting pot is amazing. The diversity of the peoples who make up the American mosaic is vast and has created a dynamism that has changed the world. It is no wonder that most Americans are interested in how their families fit in to such a rich history.
This poll was conducted at the CBS News interviewing facility among a random sample of 1020 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone May 20-23, 2011. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.
This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. Read more about this poll.
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