Pass the Champagne
That holiday buzz apparently helped buoy the American spirit: Optimism dominated a late-December ABC News/Washington Post poll assessing the prospects for the new year.
A majority of respondents (55 percent) said they felt more hopeful about what 2007 has in store for the world, while 43 percent said they were more fearful. Nearly three-quarters said they were optimistic about their personal prospects in 2007, and 82 percent were upbeat about their personal financial outlook.
Electoral politics may also have contributed to the positive thinking. Sixty-one percent said they felt upbeat about the way things are going in the country; that's significantly higher than normal (those numbers ranged from the high 20s to low 30s during the final months of 2006). An even larger number of ABC/Post respondents (67 percent) said they are optimistic about the policies that Democrats in Congress will pursue.
But the ABC/Post poll did reveal some gloom and doom. Only four in 10 respondents expressed optimism about the situation in Iraq, and they were split at 47 percent on the outlook for President Bush's policies. (12/28/06, 1,005 adults, margin of error +/-3%)
64%of Americans say they feel optimistic about the future of
the nation's economy.
(ABC News/Washington Post)
Dealing With the Dems
According to a new CNN/Opinion Research poll, Americans hope that Democrats will usher in a new era.
Fifty-one percent of respondents believe that congressional Democrats will be more responsive to the public, and a plurality of 46 percent predict that the 110th Congress will get more done than the 109th. Sixty-one percent said they approve of the way leaders are handling the transition from Republican control.
Americans don't really expect higher ethical standards on Capitol Hill, however: Forty-six percent of respondents said there would be no difference in the level of congressional corruption; 32 percent predicted less wrongdoing; and 16 percent expected more. (1/2/07, 1,019 adults, margin of error +/-3%)
The Fruits of Front-Loading
Although the 2008 primary calendars aren't firmed up yet, the American Research Group came out this week with a poll from the four states that will probably lead the pack -- Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
Hillary Rodham Clinton was the top choice of likely Democratic voters or caucus-goers in the four states. At 37 percent, the senator from New York was most popular in Nevada; her lowest number was 27 percent, in New Hampshire. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois grabbed some of Clinton's support in the Granite State. Twenty-one percent of New Hampshire Democrats said they'd vote for him, but his percentages in the other three states hovered around 10 percent.
For John Edwards of North Carolina, the former senator and vice presidential nominee who is the only one of the top three to have officially announced his candidacy, the numbers were all over the map. Proximity helped: 31 percent of South Carolina Democrats said they planned to vote for Edwards, but only 8 percent of Nevada Dems did.
There was no clear GOP front-runner: Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani each won two of the four states. McCain polled highest in South Carolina and led in New Hampshire, while "America's mayor" looked best in Nevada and led narrowly in Iowa. The dark horse: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, who came in a surprisingly strong third, racking up double-digit support in all four states. (12/9/06, 1,000 adults, +/-3%)
Love Him and Hate Him ...
When pollsters asked Americans to name their biggest hero and their biggest villain of 2006, President Bush topped both lists, with a healthy plurality. One-quarter of Associated Press/Ipsos Public Affairs/AOL respondents named Bush the loser of the year, and 13 percent chose him as the winner.
Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein followed Bush on the list of bad guys, at 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively. The remaining "axis of evil" leaders -- Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and North Korea's Kim Jong Il -- were next.
On the heroic side, the U.S. troops in Iraq came in second with 6 percent. The unlikely trio of Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, and Jesus Christ tied for third, at 3 percent each. U2's Bono was 1 percentage point behind. (12/28/06, 1,004 adults, +/-3%)