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Americans' Attitudes On Economic Issues Have Shifted, Per Franklin & Marshall College Poll With Hearst Television

LANCASTER, Pa., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the G-20 Summit commences in nearby Pittsburgh, Lancaster-based Franklin & Marshall College announced findings of a new Franklin & Marshall College Poll, produced in partnership with Hearst Television.

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Among the findings:

  • Americans' attitudes on economic and governance issues have shifted noticeably. Half say the "economy/personal finances/cost of living" remains the #1 "problem" facing them and their families - down from 65 percent (of registered voters) in October 2008. The second greatest problem cited - "healthcare/insurance" - jumped to 19 percent from 9 percent in October 2008. "Government/politicians" ballooned as a "problem" from 1 percent in October 2008 to 5 percent today, while "gasoline/oil/energy prices" evaporated as a "problem" - to zero today from 4 percent in October 2008 and 22 percent in June 2008.
    • Additionally, only 54 percent say these "problems" can be solved with the help of government, down from 68 percent in October 2008.
  • On the healthcare issue, a substantial number (88%) of Americans say they have healthcare coverage provided by their employer, or a private plan, or a government plan such as Medicare, Medicaid or SCHIP, while 12 percent indicate they do not have coverage. However, one in five (19%) Americans went without coverage at some point during the last year.
  • Americans support the president's healthcare reform proposals over Republican proposals in Congress by a roughly two to one margin (47% to 21%). Still, a third (32%) of respondents could not say who has better ideas.
    • While more than three in four (79%) Americans favor healthcare reform, paradoxically, a nearly identical number (78%) say the current healthcare system is meeting their needs "very well" or "pretty well," with only 21 percent saying the current system is not meeting their needs. Among those who are dissatisfied with the current system, cost is overwhelmingly cited (56%) as a primary concern.
    • When asked how the U.S. healthcare system compares to that of other industrialized nations, 36 percent say it is "above average," 29 percent say "average," and 30 percent say "below average." The cost of healthcare (18%) and the availability of health insurance coverage (19%) were significant problems for about one in five adults during the past year.
  • The healthcare debate continues to influence Americans' attitudes toward the administration. A slim majority (51%) of registered Americans believe President Obama is doing an "excellent" or "good" job, while nearly as many (47%) believe he is doing a "fair" or "poor" job. A large majority (74%) of Democrats indicate the president is doing an "excellent" or "good" job, versus 25 percent who say he is doing an "only fair" or "poor" job.
    • The president's job performance ratings among Republicans are substantially lower (13% "excellent" or "good" and 83% "only fair" or "poor") and among Independents are more divided (47% "excellent" or "good" and 54% "only fair" or "poor").
  • Also, roughly half (51%) of registered Americans approve of the president's handling of the situation in Afghanistan; 29 percent disapprove. In addition, 54 percent say they personally favor the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan, while 36 percent oppose.

Complete results can be found at

These results are based on interviews conducted September 15-21, 2009. The interviews were conducted at the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin and Marshall College under the direction of the poll's Director Dr. G. Terry Madonna, Head Methodologist Berwood Yost, Project Manager Jennifer Harding, and Research Associate Bradly Nankerville. The data included in this release represent the responses of 1,046 adults in the United States, and 900 of them are registered to vote. Telephone numbers for the survey were generated using random digit dialing, and respondents were randomly selected from within each household. Survey results were weighted (age, education, race, region, and gender) using an iterative weighting algorithm. The sample error for adults is +/- 3 percentage points and for registered adults is +/- 3.3 percentage points.

This is the fourth national poll in a series produced at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., with Hearst Television; the partnership, whose first poll was in June 2008, was forged out of a longstanding regional relationship between Franklin & Marshall and Hearst station WGAL-TV, the NBC affiliate serving the Lancaster/Harrisburg TV market.

This is the first Franklin & Marshall College Poll to focus on health care policy, an area of academic strength for the College. Contributors to the poll included Senior Associate Dean of the Faculty, Vice Provost for Planning and Institutional Research and Professor of Economics Alan Caniglia, Professor of Economics Sean Flaherty and The Honorable and Mrs. John C. Kunkel Professor of Government Joseph Karlesky. The Franklin & Marshall College Poll has assessed the views of the residents and voters of Pennsylvania since 1992.

Hearst Television Inc., formerly known as Hearst-Argyle Television, Inc., is a leading local media company comprising 29 television stations and two radio stations. The Company's television stations reach approximately 18% of U.S. TV households, making it one of America's largest television station groups. It also owns more than three dozen websites and multicasts more than two dozen digital channels providing news, weather and entertainment programming. Hearst Television is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hearst Corporation. The Company's Web address is

SOURCE Hearst Television Inc.
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