Manual The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion 2010

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For example, the percentage of Americans who now say reports of global warming are generally exaggerated is by a significant margin the highest such reading in the year history of asking the question.

Many global warming activists have used film and photos of melting ice caps and glaciers, and the expanding reach of deserts, to drive home their point that global warming is already having alarming effects on the earth. While these efforts may have borne fruit over much of the s, during the last two years, Americans' convictions about global warming's effects have waned. That percentage is dwindling, however.

75 Years Ago, the First Gallup Poll

The average American is now less convinced than at any time since that global warming's effects have already begun or will begin shortly. Two-thirds of Americans say global warming will not affect them in their lifetimes.

The shift in these views during the past two years has been particularly striking. The percentage who said global warming would pose a serious threat increased gradually from through The trend in these responses changed course last year, with slightly fewer Americans saying global warming would have a significant effect in their lifetimes. This year, that percentage is down even more, marking a six-point drop from , and roughly similar to where it was nine years ago.

In a sharp turnaround from what Gallup found as recently as three years ago, Americans are now almost evenly split in their views of the cause of increases in the Earth's temperature over the last century. Since last fall, there have been widespread news accounts of allegations of errors in scientific reports on global warming and alleged attempts by some scientists to doctor the global warming record.

Gallup Review: Public Opinion Context of Tucson Shootings

These news reports may well have caused some Americans to re-evaluate the scientific consensus on global warming. The percentage of Americans who think most scientists believe global warming is occurring has dropped 13 points from two years ago, and is the lowest since the first time Gallup asked this question back in The last two years have marked a general reversal in the trend of Americans' attitudes about global warming.

Most Gallup measures up to had shown increasing concern over global warming on the part of the average American, in line with what one might have expected given the high level of publicity on the topic. Former Vice President Al Gore had been particularly prominent in this regard, with the publication of his bestselling book, "An Inconvenient Truth," an Academy Award-winning documentary movie focusing on his global warming awareness campaign, and Gore's receipt of a Nobel Peace Prize in But the public opinion tide turned in , when several Gallup measures showed a slight retreat in public concern about global warming.

HORIZON Eight, Arizona PBS - Public Opinion Polls

This year, the downturn is even more pronounced. Some of the shifts in Americans' views may reflect real-world events, including the publicity surrounding allegations of scientific fraud relating to global warming evidence, and -- perhaps in some parts of the country -- a reflection of the record-breaking snow and cold temperatures of this past winter.

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Additionally, evidence from last year showed that the issue of global warming was becoming heavily partisan in nature, and it may be that the continuing doubts about global warming put forth by conservatives and others are having an effect. A forthcoming analysis here at Gallup.

There are at least two reasons for this. One is that not everyone in the U. Another reason is that people who volunteer for polls may be different from other people in ways that could make the poll unrepresentative.

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At worst, online polls can be seriously biased if people who hold a particular point of view are more motivated to participate than those with a different point of view. A good example of this was seen in when AOL posted an online poll asking if President Clinton should resign because of his relationship with a White House intern.

Honesty/Ethics in Professions | Gallup Historical Trends

The American Association for Public Opinion Research recently released a detailed report on the strengths and weaknesses of online polling. The full text of the report can be found here. Keep in mind that there is nothing inherently wrong with conducting surveys online; we do many of them with special populations such as foreign policy experts and scientists. And some online surveys are done with special panels of respondents who have been recruited randomly and then provided with internet access if they do not have it. You also ask whether online polling could determine how Americans would like to see tax revenue spent.

Theoretically it could. Because of the complexity of the federal budget, any such poll would have inherent limitations, of course.