We spent the weekend immersed in the Pew Research Center's just released Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2007. Fascinating stuff. We hardly know where to begin.

If your nonprofit is engaged in mobilizing supporters around any cause or agenda whatsoever, there's relevant data in this report for you. It's “must read.”

Bottomline for Pew:

Increased public support for the social safety net, signs of growing public concern about income inequality, and a diminished appetite for assertive national security policies have improved the political landscape for the Democrats as the 2008 presidential campaign gets underway.

Today The Agitator will just stick to some fundamental attitudes Americans have toward government. Here are some teasers:

  • Only 57% say they have a good deal of confidence in the wisdom of the American people when it comes to making political decisions … down seven points over the last decade and twenty points down since 1964 (Johnson vs Goldwater, that was a tough call!).
  • Fully 62% agree that “when something is run by the government, it is usually wasteful and inefficient” … this is the highest level of cynicism in a decade … only among those under age 30 does a majority believe otherwise (Ah, youthful idealism!).
  • Only 45% agree that “the government is really run for the benefit of all the people” … most cynical about this are, surprise, Democrats.
  • Only 34% agree that “most elected officials care about what people like me think” … this is on a par with a 20-year low of 33% in 1994.
  • And 48% agree that “people like me don't have any say about what the government does” … Independents are most skeptical on this one.

Note that the figures above are averages for the total population. Read the study to get the full picture on where attitudinal differences are even sharper (or not) by partisan affiliation, generation, income, race, class and so on.

Tomorrow we'll look at Pew's findings re public attitudes toward corporate America and business regulation. Guess which two US corporations scored lowest in favorability?

Roger & Tom

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