Wednesday, September 16, 2009

National Constitution Center and AP release Annual Constitution Day Poll Results

The annual AP-National Constitution Center Constitution Day Poll was released yesterday, providing several great opportunities to engage your students. The poll, which surveyed 1,001 people from around the country, asked people to answer 18 questions about the government, in relation to the Constitution.

Some of the questions include:

* Do you think the government is doing a good job, a poor job, or neither a good nor bad job at making sure our nation is safe from foreign and domestic threats?
* Which statement comes closest to your view? The United States Constitution is an enduring document that remains relevant today OR the United States Constitution is an outdated document that needs to be modernized.
* If you thought it would help improve the economy would you favor or oppose giving the President more power at the expense of the power of Congress and the Courts?
* Should state governments give legal recognition to marriages between couples of the same sex?

The findings present an interesting view into the minds of Americans. For example, only 38% favor government intervention, with 60% opposed, to keep a company in business to prevent harm to the economy, along with similar views opposing giving the President more power at the expense of the power of Congress and the courts, if it would help the economy.

Americans seem closely split on several other contentious issues, such as health care, where 47% believe the government should assure that everyone has health care verses 50% who believe it is up to each individual to secure health insurance if he or she wants it. These close splits are also found in the issues of pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants, with 47% in favor and 50% opposed, and in the issue of same sex marriages, where 46% of people believe the government should give legal recognition to same sex marriages, while 52% of people oppose. However, 54% believe that same sex couples should be entitled to the same government benefits as married couples of the opposite sex, while 42% believe the government should distinguish between them.

This is a great opportunity to discuss opinion polls and current events with your students. You can start by having your students read the Preamble to Constitution, on which many of the questions in the poll were based.

Then, have your students respond to the questions, found here. You can have your students compare their response to the national results and draw conclusions. Why might their results differ or adhere to what the national poll shows? Does age, gender, education, race, religion, or economic status have an impact on how people answer these questions? What might account for the different responses between the 2008 and 2009 polls?

Whether you integrate the poll into your current events discussion, or read it for your own knowledge, we think you will be interested in the results of the latest AP-National Constitution Center poll!

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