COLLEGE PARK, Md., March 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In sharp contrast to views recently expressed by Vice President Cheney, a new poll finds that Americans believe government leaders should pay attention to public opinion polls and that the public should generally have more influence over government leaders than it does. Eighty-one percent say when making "an important decision" government leaders "should pay attention to public opinion polls because this will help them get a sense of the public's views." Only 18 percent say "they should not pay attention to public opinion polls because this will distract them from deciding what they think is right." When ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz cited polling data showing majority opposition to the Iraq war, Cheney responded, "So?" Asked, "So--you don't care what the American people think?" he responded, "No," and explained, "I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls." Americans also rejected White House spokeswoman Dana Perino's explanation that "the American people have input every four years, and that's the way our system is set up." When Americans are asked whether they think that "elections are the only time when the views of the people should have influence, or that also between elections leaders should consider the views of the people as they make decisions," 94 percent say that government leaders should pay attention to the views of the public between elections. The study was conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org; the poll of 975 Americans was fielded from January 18 to 27 by Knowledge Networks. The margin of error was +/-3.2 percentage points. The focus of the study is the principle expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that "the will of the people should be the basis of the authority of government." Presented with this statement, 87 percent of Americans say they agree with it and 83 percent say that the will of the people should have more influence that it does. Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org, comments, "While Americans do not say that leaders should always follow the will of the public, they do think that American leaders should be considerably more responsive to the people and should even pay attention to polls." For detailed findings and methods, visit: See http://www.WorldPublicOpinion.org.
SOURCE Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of