Frank Newport, PhD
A number of our elected representatives have somberly proclaimed that there are no winners from the recent government shutdown and near-default. These utterances have not prevented pundits from weighing in with various lists of "winners" and "losers" anyway.
Our data probing the public for their reasons for disapproving of the job Congress is doing underscore just how much the people, taken as a whole, dislike the partisan bickering, the inability to agree and compromise, and the resulting stalemate in Washington.
Only four percent of Americans say that gun violence or gun issues constitute the most important problem facing the country today, based on our April 4-7 monthly update of the "most important problem" measure. This puts guns in the same four percent category as immigration issues, education, and the situation with North Korea.
The conclave of the College of Cardinals in Vatican City began work today on the process of selecting the next pope. There are over one billion Catholics around the world. In the U.S., about 23 percent of the adult population is Catholic, based on analyses of over Gallup 360,000 interviews conducted between January 2012 and January 2013.
My colleague Lydia Saad had an important analysis last week looking in depth at Americans' views of the most important problem facing the nation. This question is not a definitive way to assess the priorities that Americans assign to their government (more on that below), but it certainly provides important insights into what is bothering Americans, or at the least, insights into what is in the front of their minds.
The surprise decision by 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI to resign his post effective later this month has brought our attention back to the body of those in this country who identify their religion as Catholic.
It's clear that the president has made measures to attempt to reduce gun violence a key issue of his new term. President Obama mentioned Newtown once in his inauguration speech on Monday, Jan. 21, but the previous week he much more prominently announced a series of executive actions and proposed new legislative actions designed to reduce gun violence. More on these measures can be expected in his forthcoming State of the Union speech.