David Brancaccio: Spain has a big bank that may need a big bailout. Greece’s future in with the euro could be determined in a general election in the coming weeks. And voters in Ireland express their views on debt and austerity today. Experts say the European debt crisis could derail halting economic growth in the U.S., but do Americans care?
Let’s get an Attitude Check. It’s our weekly partnership with Gallup. Let’s bring in the polling firm’s editor in chief, Frank Newport. Good morning Frank.
Frank Newport: Good morning.
Brancaccio: What do you find, are Americans actually following what’s going with this unfolding two-year-old European debt crisis?
Newport: Not all that closely, and that’s an important finding. It’s screaming headlines this morning that dominate the marketplace and the coverage. But we asked Americans just a night or two ago how closely are you following news of the euro currency and the financial situation in the European countries. Our number is 49 percent following it very or somewhat closely. We’ve asked that same scale of over 200 news events over the decade — 60 percent is the average. So this 49 is below average. David, about the same attention that was being paid to the Keystone XL pipeline controversy in March of this year. So it’s just not a highly salient issue at this moment.
Brancaccio: That’s very interesting, and I think the media should shoulder some of the blame for failing to make the connections between whats going on supposedly over there and our ability to draw money from our own bank accounts if this crisis ever escalates. Of the Americans who are following this, are they concerned?
Newport: We don’t find a huge level of concern and we did put it in some context. You know, we said, ‘how concerned are you,’ and the way we phrased it was, ‘how concerned are you about the impact of the euro crisis on the U.S. economy?’ And only 31 percent of Americans said, two nights ago, that they were very concerned. A little earlier this year we asked that same question of some other international events and we had 73 percent who were worried about the debt of the U.S. being held by other countries, and 57 percent who were worried about the impact of what was happening in Iran — the price of gas of course involved there — on the U.S economy. So even in the context of other international events, the average American simply doesn’t see a real connection between what’s happening in Europe and the U.S. economy.
Brancaccio: Frank Newport, the editor in chief of Gallup, thank you very much.
Newport: My pleasure.
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