Public Opinion On 15 Controversial and Divisive Issues Polarization: The biggest differences between Republicans and Democrats are on health care reform, same-sex marriage, defense spending and gun control

NEW YORK, Oct. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A new Harris Poll asks the public whether they support or oppose 15 issues that are often politically divisive. The largest majorities are those who support cutting government spending (87%),  increased educational spending (81%), deporting more illegal aliens (76%), stricter environmental protection (75%), and no tax increases (74%).   The issues on which the public is most evenly split are same sex marriage (51% support), the recent health care reform (53% oppose), cutting defense spending (54% support), and stricter gun control (56% support).  

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100517/NY06256LOGO )

A comparison of the attitudes of Republicans and Democrats, finds the widest differences (i.e. the greatest polarization) on the recent health care reform bill (supported by 78% of Democrats but only 16% of Republicans), same sex marriage (supported by 66% of Democrats and 24% of Republicans), cutting defense spending (supported by 70% of Democrats and 30% of Republicans), and stricter environmental protection (supported by 90% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans).

When asked which two of these would be most likely to influence how people will vote, the issues that topped the list were cutting government spending (38%), no tax increases (26%) and the recent health care reform bill (26%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,462 adults surveyed online between September 12 and 19, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

What issues are most important to Republicans?

The largest majorities of Republicans favor cutting government spending (95%), deporting more illegal aliens (90%), less government regulation (89%), no tax increases (88%), off-shore drilling (87%), prayer in school (86%), and reducing immigration (82%).

When asked which two of these issues would be most important when deciding whom to vote for, the largest numbers of Republicans mentioned cutting government spending (51%), no tax increases (30%), the recent health care reform bill (24%), less government regulation (20%) and deporting more illegal aliens (19%).

What issues are most important to Democrats?

The largest majorities of Democrats support increased educational spending (91%), stricter environmental protection (90%), embryonic stem cell research (85%), abortion rights (79%) and the recent health care reform bill (78%).

In terms of voting, the issues that are most important to Democrats are the health care reform bill (29%), increased educational spending (27%), no tax increases (26%) and cutting government spending (23%).

What issues are most important to Tea-Party supporters?

The opinions of Tea-Party supporters are similar to those of Republicans but the numbers are higher.  Almost all Tea Party supporters favor cutting government spending (97%), deporting more illegal aliens (91%), less government regulation (90%), no tax increases (90%), off shore drilling (86%) prayer in school (85%) and they oppose the health care reform bill (85%).

The issues they care most about, when it comes to voting: cutting government spending (51%), no tax increases (31%), the health care reform bill (27%) and less government regulation (22%).

What Republican issues attract many Democratic supporters?

The poll reveals several issues where the traditional conservative and Republican positions appeal to most Democrats – cutting government spending (76%), no tax increases (63%), deporting more illegal aliens (62%), reducing immigration (60%), less government regulation (57%), prayer in schools (57%) and off-shore drilling (52%).

What Democratic issues attract many Republican supporters?

There are fewer traditional liberal or Democratic issues that appeal to most Republicans, although a few are: increased educational spending (71%), embryonic stem cell research (56%) and stricter environmental protection (56%).

Where do Independents stand on these issues?

Independents are split on these issues. On eight of the listed issues a majority of Independents favor the Conservative position – 92% favor cutting government spending, 80% favor deporting more illegal aliens and 73% favor no tax increases.   But on seven of the issues majorities of Independents favor the Liberal positions – 80% favor increased educational spending, 79% favor embryonic stem cell research and 77% favor stricter environmental protection.

So what?

This Harris Poll identifies many issues that can, and surely will, be hotly debated in both the Republican primary elections and in the general election. The views of Tea Party supporters will surely have a big impact on the Republican nomination.  And, both parties will use some of these issues to attract Independents and swing voters.

TABLE 1

SUPPORT OR OPPOSE POLITICAL POSITIONS

"Please indicate how strongly you support or oppose the issues listed below."

Base: All adults



Support (NET)

Strongly support

Somewhat support

Oppose (NET)

Somewhat oppose

Strongly oppose


%

%

%

%

%

%

Cutting government spending

87

58

30

13

9

4

Increased educational spending

81

42

39

19

12

6

Deporting more illegal aliens

76

50

26

24

17

7

Stricter environmental protection

75

31

43

25

17

8

Embryonic stem-cell research

74

35

38

26

13

13

No tax increases

74

47

28

26

16

10

Reducing immigration

72

42

31

28

20

7

Less government regulation

71

34

37

29

21

7

Prayer in school

69

43

27

31

14

17

Off-shore drilling

67

27

41

33

19

14

Abortion rights

64

34

29

36

15

22

Stricter gun control

56

30

26

44

21

23

Cutting defense spending

54

21

34

46

25

20

Same-sex marriage

51

28

24

49

15

33

The recent Healthcare Reform Bill

47

18

29

53

19

34

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding




TABLE 2

THOSE WHO SUPPORT CONSERVATIVE POSITIONS – BY PARTY

"Please indicate how strongly you support or oppose the issues listed below."

Summary of those saying they support or oppose various issues

Base: All adults



Total

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Tea Party supporters

%

%

%

%

%

Support Cutting government spending

87

95

76

92

97

Support Deporting more illegal aliens

76

90

62

80

91

Support No tax increases

74

88

63

73

90

Support Reducing immigration

72

82

60

76

82

Support Less government regulation

71

89

57

70

90

Support Prayer in school

69

86

57

66

85

Support Off-shore drilling

67

87

52

68

86

Oppose The recent Healthcare Reform Bill

53

84

22

55

85

Oppose Same-sex marriage

49

76

34

40

73

Oppose Cutting defense spending

46

70

30

39

65

Oppose Stricter gun control

44

66

26

46

70

Oppose Abortion rights

36

55

21

35

55

Oppose Embryonic stem-cell research

26

44

15

21

40

Oppose Stricter environmental protection

25

46

10

23

51

Oppose Increased educational spending

19

29

9

20

35

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding




TABLE 3

THOSE WHO SUPPORT LIBERAL POSITIONS – BY PARTY

"Please indicate how strongly you support or oppose the issues listed below."

Summary of those saying they support or oppose various issues

Base: All adults



Total

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Tea Party supporters

%

%

%

%

%

Support Increased educational spending

81

71

91

80

65

Support Stricter environmental protection

75

54

90

77

49

Support Embryonic stem-cell research

74

56

85

79

60

Support Abortion rights

64

45

79

65

45

Support Stricter gun control

56

34

74

54

30

Support Cutting defense spending

54

30

70

61

35

Support Same-sex marriage

51

24

66

60

27

Support The recent Healthcare Reform Bill

47

16

78

45

15

Oppose Off-shore drilling

33

13

48

32

14

Oppose Prayer in school

31

14

43

34

15

Oppose Less government regulation

29

11

43

30

10

Oppose Reducing immigration

28

18

40

24

18

Oppose No tax increases

26

12

37

27

10

Oppose Deporting more illegal aliens

24

10

38

20

9

Oppose Cutting government spending

13

5

24

8

3

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding




TABLE 4

VOTING ISSUES

"Now while all may be important issues, please choose the two issues that are most important to you when voting for a candidate."

Base: All adults



Total

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Tea Party
supporters

%

%

%

%

%

Cutting government spending

38

51

23

41

51

No tax increases

26

30

26

23

31

The recent Healthcare Reform Bill

26

24

29

27

27

Increased educational spending

19

11

27

19

8

Deporting more illegal aliens

15

19

11

14

18

Less government regulation

13

20

7

15

22

Cutting defense spending

9

4

11

12

4

Abortion rights

9

7

11

8

6

Same-sex marriage

8

7

11

7

5

Reducing immigration

8

10

7

8

10

Stricter environmental protection

8

3

11

8

2

Prayer in school

6

7

9

2

5

Stricter gun control

5

3

7

6

2

Embryonic stem-cell research

4

2

7

4

1

Off-shore drilling

3

4

2

3

5

Note: Up to two responses allowed




Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between September 12 and 19, 2011 among 2,462 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J40805

Q855, 860

The Harris Poll® #104, October 4, 2011

By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive
212-539-9600
press@harrisinteractive.com

SOURCE Harris Interactive



RELATED LINKS
http://www.harrisinteractive.com
http://www.youtube.com/user/TheHarrisInteractive
http://twitter.com/harrispoll
http://twitter.com/harrisint
http://www.facebook.com/HarrisPoll
http://www.facebook.com/harrisinteractive?ref=share

More by this Source


Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

 

PR Newswire Membership

Fill out a PR Newswire membership form or contact us at (888) 776-0942.

Learn about PR Newswire services

Request more information about PR Newswire products and services or call us at (888) 776-0942.