Half of Americans say stronger safety measures could’ve prevented East Palestine disaster
New Ipsos poll, provided exclusively to USA Today, also finds that most say national political figures touring a disaster site does not have much impact
Washington, DC, February 28, 2023—A new Ipsos poll, provided exclusively to USA Today, finds that nearly two in three Americans are familiar with the train derailment and aftermath in East Palestine, Ohio, and about half believe that it could have been prevented by stronger safety regulations. Additionally, the poll, which was conducted in the days immediately following Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s visit, finds that a bare majority believe that having national political figures tour a disaster site does not have much impact on the recovery and cleanup. Lastly, the poll also finds that a majority of Americans do not find President Biden’s visit to Kyiv, Ukraine to be a symbolic moment equal to former President Ronald Reagan’s “tear down this wall” visit or former President John F. Kennedy’s trip to Berlin during the Cold War.
1. Two in three Americans are familiar with the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, and a slim majority believe it could have been prevented by stronger safety regulations.
- Sixty-four percent of Americans are at least somewhat familiar with the train derailment in East Palestine. Just 15% are completely unaware of the derailment.
- Fifty-three percent of Americans believe the event could have been prevented by stronger safety regulations. Few believe that nothing could have prevented it from happening (6%), but a significant portion, 40%, say they don’t know one way or another.
- Democrats (66%) and independents (54%) are significantly more likely than Republicans (40%) to believe that stronger safety regulations could have prevented the derailment.
- Lastly, fifty-two percent of Americans say that having national political figures tour a disaster site does not have much impact on the cleanup and recovery. Two in five (41%) believe it has a positive impact, and just five percent say it has a negative impact.
2. Around half of Americans are familiar with President Biden’s surprise visit to Kyiv, Ukraine. However, not many view the trip as a symbolic moment.
- Fifty-four percent report that they are at least somewhat familiar with Biden’s trip to Ukraine. Similar to the news in East Palestine, just 16% are completely unaware of it.
- Only one in three (31%) Americans believe President Biden’s trip is a symbolic moment equal to Reagan’s “tear down the wall” visit or Kennedy’s “ich bin ein Berliner” speech during the Cold War.
- Just half of Democrats (51%) view the trip as equally symbolic to those events, while even fewer independents (33%) and Republicans (9%) share this sentiment.
About the Study
This Ipsos poll was conducted February 24 to February 27, 2023, using the probability-based KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,023 adults age 18 or older. The sample includes 284 Republicans, 289 Democrats, and 334 independents.
The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel, the largest and most well-established online probability-based panel that is representative of the adult US population. Our recruitment process employs a scientifically developed addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households invited to join the panel are randomly selected from all available households in the U.S. Persons in the sampled households are invited to join and participate in the panel. Those selected who do not already have internet access are provided a tablet and internet connection at no cost to the panel member. Those who join the panel and who are selected to participate in a survey are sent a unique password-protected log-in used to complete surveys online. As a result of our recruitment and sampling methodologies, samples from KnowledgePanel cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and findings can be reported with a margin of sampling error and projected to the general population.
The study was conducted in English. The data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, education, Census region, metropolitan status, and household income. The demographic benchmarks came from the 2022 March Supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS). Party ID benchmarks are from recent ABC News/Washington Post telephone polls. The weighting categories were as follows:
- Gender (Male, Female) by Age (18–29, 30–44, 45–59, and 60+)
- Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Other, Non-Hispanic, Hispanic, 2+ Races, Non-Hispanic)
- Education (Less than High School graduate, High School graduate, Some College, Bachelor’s and beyond)
- Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
- Metropolitan status (Metro, non-Metro)
- Household Income (Under $25,000, $25,000-$49,999, $50,000-$74,999, $75,000-$99,999, $100,000-$149,999, $150,000+)
- Party ID (Democrat, Republican, Independent, Something else)
The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.17. For Republicans, the margin of sampling error is 6.2 and the design effect is 1.13. For Democrats, the margin of sampling error is 6.2 and the design effect is 1.14. For independents, the margin of sampling error is 5.7 and the design effect is 1.13. The margin of sampling error is higher and varies for results based on sub-samples. Sampling error is only one potential source of error. There may be other unmeasured non-sampling error in this or any poll. In our reporting of the findings, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given table column may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. In questions that permit multiple responses, columns may total substantially more than 100%, depending on the number of different responses offered by each respondent.
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