NEW YORK, November 21, 2000 - As the stalemate to elect the next President of the United States continues into its third week, nearly 6 in 10 (59%) Americans believe the Florida recount and how it's been handled "is a major issue that shows serious flaws" in the U.S. system for electing Presidents, according to a weekend poll conducted by the global research group, Ipsos-Reid.
Women (at 64%) and those earning household incomes of less than $25,000 (at 68%) tended to agree most with the statement that the way the stalemate has been handled shows serious flaws in the U.S. system.
Overall, a minority (36%) of Americans said the recount is a "minor issue" that has resulted from a close race, and is not a sign of serious problems with the U.S. electoral system. The survey of 1,000 American adults (18+) was conducted between Nov. 17 and Nov. 19.
"Perhaps the most significant consequence of this election, aside of course from who will be the next American leader, is the erosion in the public's confidence in their electoral system," said Edward Morawski, a vice-president with Ipsos-Reid in New York. "If nothing else, the electoral system has come under a microscope like never before and has revealed flaws that the American public had not been aware of previously."
In a poll conducted with George magazine last week, Ipsos-Reid also found that no matter who ultimately is crowned president, Americans say education should be the highest priority for the Oval Office, as well as Congress. Health care, social security, the economy, the reduction of taxes, restoring values, strengthening the military, the environment, and campaign finance reform should follow (in that particular order) as the next highest priorities.
In such a tight presidential race, with a narrowly divided Congress, 63% of Americans say they are "very" or "somewhat" concerned about the effect a gridlocked or partisan federal government will have on the country. Women express more concern than men, as well as seniors over younger citizens.
When asked whether or not they would support legislation banning "soft money" donations to specific political campaigns, 66% said they would; 30% disagreed. Further, when asked if they would support expanding Medicare to cover the cost of prescription drugs if it meant paying slightly higher taxes, 69% of Americans polled said yes.
Finally, while the nation currently appears to be engrossed in the drama of who will capture the White House, an overwhelming majority of Americans polled said they had contributed neither time nor money during this November's election. When broken down by age, the highest percentage of non-contributors was among those between 18 and 34.
Methodology: The results of the polls were collected by Ipsos-Reid EXPRESS. Poll results were based on 1,000 telephone interviews conducted with a random sample of American adults (18+) during the weekends of November 10-12 and Nov. 17-19. The sample was carefully controlled to ensure accurate regional and demographic representation. The margin of error is +-3%. Results based on smaller subgroups have a larger potential for sampling error. Ipsos-Reid has been tracking public opinion around the world for more than 20 years and has become a leading provider of global public opinion and market research to private, public and not-for-profit organizations in over 50 countries. It is a member of Paris-based Ipsos Group, ranked among the top ten research groups in the world.
*Note: Results from additional countries will be released next week. For further information, please contact:
Edward Morawski Ipsos-Reid, New York 212-584-9270