60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll: April Edition
Welcome to the 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll for April. Spring is in the air, the economy is picking up steam and Americans are starting to focus on the November election and on the direction they want the country to go in.
Major League Baseball will open all across the country and will provide a happy distraction for millions of fans (Happy 100th Birthday to what John Updike described as "a lyric little bandbox" Fenway Park) April 16th is tax day for millions of American taxpayers and also when we celebrate Patriots Day this year, commemorating the "shot heard 'round the world" on the village green in Lexington, Massachusetts. Ironically, that battle was started in good part to do away with unjust taxation. The more things change.... and now our poll results for April.
- Likelihood of U.S. forces in the Middle East in the next two years
Over 80 percent of Americans think it is either very or somewhat likely that U.S. forces will be seriously committed somewhere in the Middle East in the next two years. Only 13 percent don't think it is likely. After 10 years and two wars, war weary Americans seem to be resigned to even more conflicts in the Middle East in the coming years.
- Which label would you least like to be thought of?
Forty-two percent would be hurt the most if people thought they were a liar and 36 percent would be most hurt if they were thought to be racist. Only eight percent get tight about being called a cheapskate, three percent would get nervous being called neurotic and two percent think the word ugly is unattractive.
- Which "Friends" character are you?
Chandler and Rachel are the most relatable "Friends" from the popular sitcom with 10 percent each (17 percent each from their respective genders). Monica (nine percent) and Joey (seven percent) were next followed by Phoebe (six percent) and Ross (5 percent). More than half (53 percent) of those asked -- including many older Americans -- did not relate to any of the characters or had no opinion. It appears the majority of Americans may be looking for some new "Friends."
- What would you do if a burning bush spoke to you?
Here is this month's "suspend your disbelief" question and it's a hot one. If a burning bush spoke to them, 35 percent of Americans would put out the fire. If that didn't work 21 percent would do whatever the bush told them to do. Sixteen percent said they would seek counseling (from the bush?) And 14 percent would run like...you know. Whoever said one in the hand is worth two in the bush knew what they were talking about.
- What is the annual salary of the president?
Americans were evenly divided with 37 percent guessing the former rate of $250,000 and another 37 percent correctly knowing or guessing the present presidential salary of $400,000. Twelve percent picked $1 million and two percent thought it was a dollar a year job. When you consider the hundreds of millions that it takes to get elected and the huge sums spent for travel, protection and other operations, 400 grand seems like an awfully low salary for the most powerful job in the world. It is offset by the relatively new guarantee of becoming very rich once you become an ex-president. The books, speeches and other trappings are extremely lucrative and up to this point too tempting for recent commanders in chief to pass up.
- Profanity on broadcast television should be...?
About half of the Americans asked would keep the status quo, no profanity between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. on free broadcast television. Forty-two percent would like it to be prohibited at all times and just seven percent would allow it at all times. The larger question is: what constitutes "profanity" these days? There are some very offensive things being allowed on prime time that would not only make your parents blush, but might send your grandparents to the hospital. And what about the racy 10 p.m. shows that will undoubtedly be rerun in the future at 5 p.m. in front of impressionable young students just home from school?
- Which deadly sin are you most susceptible to?
Thirty-five percent of Americans weren't too proud to admit that they were susceptible to the sin of pride. Thirteen percent filled up on gluttony, another 13 percent coveted envy and 12 percent had a fever for lust. Seven percent had to have greed, five percent were indifferent about sloth and three percent incurred wrath. Human nature hasn't changed much in 5,000 years, nor have the temptations brought forth to people by the Seven Deadly Sins.
- Which one-term president deserved re-election?
Presidents Jimmy Carter and John Adams got 23 percent and 22 percent of the vote respectively for having deserved a second term. Both have been viewed more positively after their presidencies than during them. Gerald Ford only got 13 percent, but he wasn't elected in the first place. The winner with 27 percent (including 51 percent of Republicans and 23 percent of Independents) was George H. W. Bush. His legacy and reputation have been rising steadily for his moderation (in an era that could use more of it) and his deft handling of the fall of communism.
- How long would you play violin on Titanic?
As noted before, on April 20th, 1912, the Red Sox beat New York 7-6 in the first game ever played at Fenway Park. Not many people other than the fans that were there heard about it because the front page was still covered with stories about the sinking of the Titanic. One hundred years later people are still talking about it and the movie soon to be re-released in 3D will again be grossing huge sums. When asked what they would do if they were playing violin on deck when the Titanic struck the fateful iceberg, 15 percent would play to the bitter end.
Ten percent would play one short song and a combined 13 percent would play until they felt water. Fifty-five percent would have called in sick and waltzed to nearest lifeboat.
- Could you live in a non-democratic country?
Seven in 10 Americans said they could not live in a country without democracy. Fifteen percent either facetiously or cynically said they already live in such a country. Four percent said "who needs democracy?" And finally four percent said they could do it with the proviso of, "as long as I'm rich". That proviso can make a lot of situations easier to take.
- Ever been tipsy at work?
Eighty-seven percent of Americans say they have never been even a little tipsy at work. Eleven percent said they have and two percent can't remember (let's add them to the 11 percent). The three martini lunches of the 50's and 60's (think "Mad Men") are pretty much over these days but if you look around at lunchtime it seems that many people still enjoy a beer or a cocktail with their lunch. Eighty-seven percent seems like a lot of abstemious people, but with the employment market still tough maybe more folks are watching their P's and Q's.
This poll was conducted at the CBS News interviewing facility among a random sample of 1,125 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone February 24-27, 2012. 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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