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More Than Half of all Adults are Not Familiar Enough with Robert Gates, Tim Geithner, John Boehner, Ben Bernanke and John Roberts to have Opinions About Them

November 1, 2010

NEW YORK, Nov. 1, 2010 /PRNewswire/ – Several recent polls have shown how few people are well-informed on important subjects. In fact, recent Harris Polls have shown how few people know what is in the health care reform bill, commonly called Obamacare by its critics. Now, a new Harris Poll shows how many people do not know enough about major leaders in Washington to have opinions about them. Majorities of Americans do not know enough to have opinions about Defense Secretary Robert Gates (53%), Chief Justice John Roberts (60%), Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (52%), Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (59%), or House Minority Leader John Boehner (63%), who may well be the Speaker of the House after the November 2nd elections.

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This Harris poll also finds that, of all the major leaders in Washington, only one, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, receives substantial positive ratings (48% positive and 32% negative) among the American public.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 3,084 adults surveyed online between October 11 and 18, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

Other interesting findings in this new Harris Poll include:

  • The Democrats in Congress (16% positive; 51% negative) and the Republicans (14% positive; 51% negative) are almost equally, and very, unpopular;
  • Vice President Joe Biden has many more critics than admirers (46% negative; 26% positive);
  • Defense Secretary Robert Gates has more friends than critics (27% positive; 20% negative);
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has the worst ratings of any leader in the poll (52% negative; 19% positive);
  • Chief Justice John Roberts’ positive and negative ratings are equal (20%);
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has more critics than friends (28% negative; 20% positive);
  • Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has many more critics than admirers (29% negative; 12% positive);
  • House Minority Leader John Boehner, the least known of all the leaders in the poll, also has many more critics than friends (25% negative; 12% positive).

So What?

There are two conclusions that can be drawn from this poll. That so many people are not familiar with so many of the most powerful leaders in Washington is striking and suggests that many people can hold strong views about Washington without actually following what is going on there. The negative ratings for so many of the leaders, and both parties in Congress, underlines the sour mood of the country and that many votes are likely to be cast against government and Democratic incumbents rather than in favor of the Republicans this November.

TABLE 1

FAMILIARITY OF SENIOR CABINET MEMBERS, CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS AND PARTIES IN CONGRESS

“Are you familiar enough with each of the following to have an opinion regarding them?”

Base: All adults


                                              FAMILIAR
                 Mar. April May  June  Aug. Sept.  Dec.  Jan.  Mar. June  Oct.
                  %     %    %     %     %    %     %     %     %     %     %
     Secretary
     of
     State
     Hillary
     Clinton     85    83   83    81    82   82    82    82    81    81    81
     Vice
     President
     Joe
     Biden       70    67   69    68   71    70    72    67    72    71    72
     House
     Speaker
     Nancy
     Pelosi      68    65   66    66   67    69    71    68    69    69    72
     Democrats
     in
     Congress    66    64   64    65   68    69    67    71    68    68    67
     Republicans
     in
     Congress    62    61   59    58    63   65    64    66    67    64    64
     Federal
     Reserve
     Chairman
     Ben
     Bernanke    42    43   43    41    44    48  N/a   N/a    49    45    48
     Defense
     Secretary
     Robert
     Gates       40    44   43    42    45    46    49   47    48    44    47
     Treasury
     Secretary
     Tim
     Geithner    35    44   41    39    43    42    43   43    43    39    41
     Chief
     Justice
     John
     Roberts     40  N/a    N/a   37  N/a    N/a   N/a  N/a   N/a    36    40
     House
     Minority
     Leader
     John
     Boehner     37  N/a    37   N/a  27    N/a   N/a   N/a   N/a   N/a     37

Note: N/a indicates not asked

TABLE 2

RATINGS OF SENIOR CABINET MEMBERS, CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS AND PARTIES IN CONGRESS

“How would you rate the overall job each of the following is doing?”

Base: All adults


                 Positive* Excellent Pretty Negative** Only  Poor     Not
                                      Good             Fair        Familiar
                     %         %        %       %        %     %       %
    Secretary
     of State
     Hillary
     Clinton            48        14     34         32    22    11       19
    Vice
     President
     Joe Biden          26         5     21         46    24    21       28
    Defense
     Secretary
     Robert
     Gates              27         6     21         20    14     5       53
    House
     Speaker
     Nancy
     Pelosi             19         4     15         52    17    35       28
    Chief
     Justice
     John
     Roberts            20         6     15         20    12     8       60
    Federal
     Reserve
     Chairman
     Ben
     Bernanke           20         3     17         28    19     9       52
    Democrats
     in
     Congress           16         2     13         51    21    31       33
     Republicans
     in
     Congress           14         2     12         51    23    28       36
    Treasury
     Secretary
     Tim
     Geithner           12         2     10         29    14    15       59
    House
     Minority
     Leader
     John
     Boehner            12         3      9         25    11    15       63

*Positive = excellent or pretty good **Negative = only fair or poor

TABLE 3

RATING OF VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN – TREND

How would you rate the job Vice-President Joe Biden is doing?”

Base: All adults


                       Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    Oct. '10     %          26          46            28
    June         %          26          45            29
    March        %          29          44            28
    Jan.         %          28          39            33
    Dec.         %          30          42            28
    Sept.        %          30          41            30
    Aug.         %          33          38            29
    June         %          30          38            32
    May          %          32          36            31
    April        %          34          32            33
    March        %          35          35            30

*Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

TABLE 4

RATING OF SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON – TREND

How would you rate the job Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is doing?”

Base: All adults


                       Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    Oct. '10     %          48          32            19
    June         %          45          35            19
    March        %          48          33            19
    Jan.         %          49          33            18
    Dec.         %          48          34            18
    Sept.        %          48          34            18
    Aug.         %          51          31            18
    June         %          47          34            19
    May          %          50          33            17
    April        %          51          32            17
    March        %          49          36            15

*Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

TABLE 5

RATING OF DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES – TREND

How would you rate the job Defense Secretary Robert Gates is doing?”

Base: All adults


                      Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    Oct. '10    %          27          20            53
    June        %          23          20            56
    March       %          27          21            52
    Jan.        %          26          21            53
    Dec.        %          28          21            51
    Sept.       %          28          18            54
    Aug.        %          28          17            55
    June        %          28          13            58
    May         %          28          15            57
    April       %          30          14            56
    March       %          27          13            60

*Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

TABLE 6

RATING OF TREASURY SECRETARY TIM GEITHNER – TREND

How would you rate the job Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is doing?”

Base: All adults


                       Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    Oct. '10     %          12          29            59
    June         %          10          29            61
    March        %          13          30            57
    Jan.         %          14          29            57
    Dec.         %          15          29            57
    Sept.        %          16          26            58
    Aug.         %          17          26            57
    June         %          15          24            61
    May          %          16          26            59
    April        %          18          26            56
    March        %          11          24            65

*Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

TABLE 7

RATING OF HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI – TREND

How would you rate the job House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is doing?”

Base: All adults


                       Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    Oct. '10    %           19          52            28
    June        %           20          49            31
    March       %           16          52            31
    Jan.        %           18          50            32
    Dec.        %           22          49            29
    Sept.       %           20          49            31
    Aug.        %           19          48            33
    June        %           18          49            34
    May         %           21          45            34
    April       %           21          44            35
    March       %           23          45            32

*Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

TABLE 8

RATING OF DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS – TREND

How would you rate the job the Democrats in Congress are doing?”

Base: All adults


                       Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    Oct. '10     %          16          51            33
    June         %          14          54            32
    March        %          14          54            32
    Jan.         %          17          54            29
    Dec.         %          18          50            33
    Sept.        %          18          51            31
    Aug.         %          21          47            32
    June         %          21          43            35
    May          %          25          39            36
    April        %          22          42            36
    March        %          25          41            34

*Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

TABLE 9

RATING OF REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS – TREND

How would you rate the job the Republicans in Congress are doing?”

Base: All adults


                       Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    Oct. '10     %          14          51            36
    June         %          11          52            36
    March        %          16          51            33
    Jan.         %          16          50            34
    Dec.         %          14          50            36
    Sept.        %          11          54            35
    Aug.         %          12          52            37
    June         %          12          46            42
    May          %          14          45            41
    April        %          14          48            39
    March        %          15          47            38

*Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

TABLE 10

RATING OF FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN BEN BERNANKE – TREND

How would you rate the job Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is doing?”

Base: All adults


                       Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    Oct. '10    %           20          28            52
    June        %           17          29            55
    March       %           21          28            51
    Sept.       %           25          23            52
    Aug.        %           20          24            56
    June        %           18          23            59
    May         %           19          24            57
    April       %           20          23            57
    March       %           14          28            58

*Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding

TABLE 11

RATING OF SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS – TREND

How would you rate the job Chief Justice John Roberts is doing?”

Base: All adults


                       Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    Oct. '10     %          20          20            60
    June         %          18          19            64
    June         %          21          15            63
    March        %          25          16            60

*Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

TABLE 12

RATING OF HOUSE MINORITY LEADER JOHN BOEHNER – TREND

How would you rate the job Chief Justice John Roberts is doing?”

Base: All adults


                       Positive*  Negative**  Not Familiar
    Oct. '10     %          12          25            63
    Aug. '09     %           8          19            73
    March '09    %           9          16            75

*Excellent or pretty good. **Only fair or poor. Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between October 11 to 18, 2010 among 3,084 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.

J38848

Q1220, 1225

The Harris Poll® #132, November 1, 2010

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, European, and Asian 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:
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    Harris Interactive
    212-539-9600
    press@harrisinteractive.net

SOURCE Harris Interactive


Source: newswire