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Title Measuring americans' issue priorities. A new version of the most important problem question reveals more concern about global warming and the environment
Source Public Opinion Quarterly (POQ), 75, 1, pp. 125-138
Year 2011
Access date 04.05.2013

For decades, numerous surveys have asked Americans the “Most Important Problem” (MIP) question: “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” Global warming and the environment have rarely been cited by more than a small number of respondents in these surveys in recent years, which might seem to suggest that these have not been the most important issues to Americans. This paper explores the possibility that an additional method of assessing the public's priorities might support a different conclusion. Three experiments embedded in national surveys (two done via the Internet, the other done by telephone) show that when asked the traditional MIP question, respondents rarely mentioned global warming or the environment, but when other respondents were asked to identify the most serious problem that will face the world in the future if nothing is done to stop it, global warming and the environment were the most frequently mentioned problems. Furthermore, a large majority of Americans indicated that they wanted the federal government to devote substantial effort to combating problems that the world will face in the future if nothing is done to stop them. Thus, future surveys might include both versions of the MIP question to more fully document Americans’ priorities.

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Year of publication2011
Bibliographic typeJournal article
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Web survey bibliography - Public Opinion Quarterly (POQ) (90)

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