Attitude Check: Consumer confidence and global warming

Are Americans feeling hot or cold about the state of the economy? And what do they really believe about the state of the world's weather?

David Brancaccio: Your politics even determines your take on the weather outside. That's one subject of our weekly Attitude Check. Frank Newport is editor-in-chief at the polling firm Gallup. He joins us every Thursday. Good morning Frank.

Frank Newport: Hello Dave.

Brancaccio: So listen, I’ve got to ask you Frank, it’s been less than a week since the government said the jobs picture is getting better. But are we feeling better about the economy and how’s that playing out for another fellow whose job is tied to the economy? His name is Barack Obama.

Newport: Well we sure did see signs we think in the data, very positive vibes that came from that report last Friday and in fact over the weekend, our consumer confidence as we track it here at Gallup Economic Confidence got as low as we have seen it since we have been tracking consumer confidence which began in January of 2008, and the weekly average for last week, lots of interviews, tied the low that we had seen since ’08 so clearly we saw an impact of this and you ask about President Obama. Same thing, his job approval rating improved in our data over the weekend and actually is staying fairly high now, we think at least part as a result of the positive report last Friday.

Brancaccio: Now as so many conversations do Frank, let’s talk about the weather. I’m in New York and wore shorts after work yesterday. What do Americans make of this? Not my shorts, but the weather?

Newport: We did not ask about your shorts but we’ll do that next time. 79 percent of Americans, Dave, in answer to your question, said that in fact where they live, it was warmer than usual this winter. The really fascinating thing came in when we followed up and said, alright, why? Is it global warming? Or is this just normal variation that we get from year to year in the weather? And the fascinating thing about that is, the results were not based on education, not based on your knowledge of global warming...

Brancaccio: Not based of looking out your window.

Newport: No, no, nothing like that. It was based on politics. If you’re a Republican, 70 percent said oh, this is just normal fluxuation. Independents tilted toward saying it was global warming but Democrats across the country, the majority said oh no, this was global warming that caused the warmer than usual winter this year.

Brancaccio: Politics, belief system, affecting our view of the world. Frank Newport, editor-in-chief at Gallup. Thank you so much.

Newport: My pleasure.

About the author

Frank Newport, Ph.D., is the editor-in-chief at Gallup and appears regularly on Marketplace.

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