Dec. 28, 1999

Columbine Shooting Biggest News Draw of 1999

Introduction and Summary The murderous rampage by a pair of high school students in Littleton, Colo. attracted by far the most public interest of any news story of 1999. The widespread attention focused on the April shootings at Columbine High made it the third most closely watched story of the 1990s, according to the Pew […]

Dec. 16, 1999

Campaign Incidents Have Little Punch

Introduction and Summary The rhetoric and events of the presidential campaign so far are having little impact on the attitudes of voters nationwide. Voter preferences are being shaped more by general impressions of the candidates than by what they are saying or by what is happening to them along the campaign trail. While many Americans […]

Nov. 11, 1999

Retro-Politics

Foreword and Overview Foreword In 1987, we embarked on an ambitious project to better understand the nature of American politics. We identified a broad range of beliefs and values that underlie common political labels and that ultimately drive political action. A voter typology emerged from this effort which classifies the electorate into distinct groupings, defined […]

Oct. 24, 1999

Optimism Reigns, Technology Plays Key Role

Introduction and Summary Americans anticipate many perils in the next century, but none of them, no matter how grave, can dim the public’s positive view of the future. Despite consensus forecasts of natural disasters, environmental calamities and international terrorism, Americans are near unanimous in their confidence that life will get better for themselves, their families […]

Oct. 21, 1999

Senate Test Ban Vote Little Noticed, Less Understood

Introduction and Summary The U.S. Senate’s rejection of the underground nuclear test ban treaty has gone unnoticed by half of the public, and only one-in-ten Americans say they have heard a lot about why some in the Senate backed the treaty, while others opposed it. Just about half of respondents (49%) polled in a Pew […]

Oct. 18, 1999

Candidate Qualities May Trump Issues in 2000

Introduction and Summary Even though Americans say that issues matter most, candidates’ personal qualities may be decisive in a campaign without dominant issues. Voters make fine distinctions, however, about what they want to know about candidates personally. Americans strongly reject press inquiry into most avenues of candidates’ private lives, yet at the same time place […]

Sep. 15, 1999

Too Much Money, Too Much Media Say Voters

Introduction and Summary Americans are showing signs of disaffection with a presidential campaign that is just beginning. The public thinks the press and large campaign contributors are having too much influence on who gets nominated, and a 60% majority thinks voters themselves have too little say. The latest Pew Research Center survey, conducted on the […]

Jul. 27, 1999

JFK Jr Tragedy Attracts Huge Audience

Introduction and Summary News of the disappearance and death of John F. Kennedy Jr. attracted a large news audience last week, but most Americans think that news organizations over-covered the story. More than eight-in-ten paid attention to news of the tragedy, and as many as 54% paid very close attention. It ranks as one of […]

Jul. 22, 1999

Third Party Chances Limited

Introduction and Summary The prospects for a third party presidential candidate appear dim. Americans are reasonably satisfied with the existing field of candidates for the 2000 presidential election, and overwhelming numbers say they would not consider voting for outsiders Jesse Ventura or Ross Perot. Three-in-four people say they would be satisfied with a contest between […]

Jul. 3, 1999

Technology Triumphs, Morality Falters

Introduction and Summary Americans see the 20th century as a time of great economic, social and technological progress. As individuals, as families, as members of various social and demographic groups, nearly two-thirds of Americans say they have improved their circumstances since the 1950s, and even larger numbers see economic and social gains for many segments […]

Jun. 16, 1999

It’s Still Too Early for the Voters

Introduction and Summary The early presidential primary season may have front-loaded candidate announcements, political advertising and the media roadshow, but it’s all background noise to the average American voter. Nearly two-thirds of the public is paying little or no attention to the 2000 election, and knowledge of the presidential candidates and opinions about them are […]

Jun. 15, 1999

Muted and Mixed Public Response To Peace in Kosovo

Introduction and Summary American reaction to the end of the air war in Kosovo is mixed. While public support for intervention rebounded in the closing days of the conflict, there is little indication of public exaltation at its end. Two-thirds of the public (68%) now says the United States and NATO did the right thing […]

May. 24, 1999

Public Cool To Presidential Pay Raise

Introduction and Summary There is little public support for a plan to give the president a pay raise for the first time since 1969. When told that the president’s salary has not been increased since 1969, 49% favor a pay raise for the next president to take office, while 39% oppose it. But when people […]

May. 20, 1999

Bradley Boxes Out Political Center

Introduction and Summary Bill Bradley is the man in the middle when it comes to voter perceptions. Americans describe the former New Jersey senator as a political moderate far more frequently than they do any other presidential candidate. On average, voters who know Bradley rate his ideology as virtually identical to their own. But, despite […]

May. 18, 1999

Americans Disengaging From Kosovo

Introduction and Summary Public support for the war in the Balkans is fading. Approval of U.S. participation in the NATO effort has fallen to 53% from 62% in mid-April, and fewer Americans are paying very close attention to the air war now than just three weeks ago. At the same time, the public is increasingly […]

Apr. 26, 1999

Record News Interest in Littleton Shooting

Introduction and Summary The Colorado school shootings evoked an extraordinary level of public attention. It is the third ranked news story of the 1990s in Pew Research Center surveys which have measured public attentiveness to more than 600 national and international stories since January 1990. Interest in the Littleton tragedy is comparable to the amount […]

Apr. 21, 1999

Continued Public Support for Kosovo, But Worries Grow

Introduction and Summary Americans remain supportive of military action in Yugoslavia, but unease about the situation is growing. A solid majority of the public continues to approve of NATO air strikes against Serbia. Humanitarian concern for the plight of the Kosovars is broad, and only a minority of Americans say that U.S. military involvement in […]

Apr. 17, 1999

Clinton Fatigue Undermines Gore Poll Standing

Introduction and Summary Personal image problems and fallout from Clinton administration scandals are contributing to Al Gore’s declining favorability ratings and his poor showing in early horse race polls. As the vice president has inched closer to the Democratic presidential nomination, his favorability ratings have fallen and he has slipped further behind GOP frontrunner George […]

Apr. 8, 1999

Americans Divided on China Policy

Introduction and Summary The public is deeply divided about the future of U.S.-China relations. Although a solid 60% majority say relations between the United States and China are stable — neither improving nor getting worse — there is little agreement over the question of whether our current handling of China is tough enough and no […]

Mar. 30, 1999

Striking the Balance, Audience Interests, Business Pressures and Journalists’ Values

Introduction and Summary Journalists increasingly agree with public criticism of their profession and the quality of their work. Overwhelmingly, news media professionals say the lines have blurred between commentary and reporting and between entertainment and news. A growing number of reporters, editors and news executives also say that news reports are full of factual errors […]