Eight in 10 Say Leaders Pay Too Little Attention to Veterans

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Liberals, conservatives disagree most about attention paid to gays and lesbians

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- A recent Gallup Panel survey tested Americans' perceptions about the relative political influence of various groups in the United States, by asking whether "the political leaders in Washington pay too much attention, about the right amount, or too little attention" to each group's needs. Of the 14 groups tested in the poll, military veterans are thought to be the most in need of increased government attention. On the other hand, the public is most likely to believe political leaders pay too much attention to big corporations and Hollywood movie executives.

Eighty-one percent of Americans say government leaders pay too little attention to the needs of military veterans, according to the March 26-29 poll. The poll was conducted shortly after news reports about poor conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center focused attention on the plight of wounded soldiers returning from Iraq. This news may have helped to push veterans past the poor (77%), small-business owners (68%), and senior citizens (66%) as the group most widely viewed as lacking in government attentiveness.

In contrast, 76% of Americans say leaders pay too much attention to big corporations and 74% say the same about Hollywood movie executives. A majority of Americans also believe trial lawyers (55%) and defense contractors (53%) have disproportionate influence.

Americans rate religious conservatives and gays and lesbians -- two groups at opposite ends of the political spectrum -- similarly. Just under half believe government leaders pay too much attention to each group, with 48% saying this about religious conservatives and 46% about gays and lesbians.

Do you think the political leaders in Washington pay too much attention, about the right amount, or too little attention to the needs of each of the following groups? How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

2007 Mar 26-29
(sorted by "too much")

Too much

About right

Too little

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

Big corporations

76

16

6

1

Hollywood movie executives

74

19

4

4

Trial lawyers

55

31

10

4

Defense contractors

53

27

16

4

Religious conservatives

48

33

17

2

Gays and lesbians

46

27

24

2

Labor unions

34

38

26

2

Hispanics

25

40

32

3

Doctors

22

49

26

3

Blacks

16

48

34

2

Senior citizens

5

28

66

1

The poor

5

18

77

*

Small-business owners

3

28

68

1

Military veterans

2

16

81

1

* Less than 0.5%

Although no group is viewed by a majority of Americans as having the right amount of influence, doctors (49%) and blacks (48%) come closest to this mark.

Views are generally divided on Hispanics and labor unions. Forty percent say Hispanics receive the right amount of government attention, with 32% saying too little and 25% too much. A plurality of Americans, 38%, also say political leaders pay the right amount of attention to labor unions, though Americans are more inclined to believe unions have too much (34%) rather than too little (26%) influence.

Perceptions Vary by Ideology

Political ideology seems to be most strongly related to how influential Americans perceive the various groups to be. On a few groups -- veterans, doctors, and small-business owners -- liberals and conservatives hold similar views. Beyond that, however, Americans who self-identify as conservatives are more likely than liberals to think groups generally aligned with the Democratic Party (such as gays and lesbians, Hollywood movie executives, trial lawyers, labor unions, and blacks) receive too much attention from political leaders. Likewise, liberals are more likely than conservatives to think groups aligned with the Republican Party (including religious conservatives, big corporations, and defense contractors) receive too much government attention.

The biggest gulf in perceptions occurs in relation to gays and lesbians. Most conservatives, 67%, believe the government pays too much attention to the needs of gays and lesbians, while most liberals, 51%, believe the government pays too little attention.

Views of Government Attention Paid to Gays and Lesbians,
by Political Ideology


 

Too much

About
right

Too little

No
opinion

Liberal

17%

30

51

2

Moderate

42%

33

23

1

Conservative

67%

21

11

2

Liberals and conservatives also diverge in their views of the attention paid to labor unions, with conservatives (45%) most likely to say they get too much attention, and liberals (40%) most likely to say they get too little.

Views of Government Attention Paid to Labor Unions,
by Political Ideology


 

Too much

About
right

Too little

No
opinion

Liberal

22%

37

40

1

Moderate

30%

38

29

4

Conservative

45%

39

15

1

There is also some disagreement about the attention paid to needs of blacks -- most liberals say the government does not pay them enough attention, while most conservatives say the government gives their needs the appropriate amount of consideration.

Views of Government Attention Paid to Blacks,
by Political Ideology


 

Too much

About
right

Too little

No|
opinion

Liberal

5%

40

54

2

Moderate

11%

50

36

2

Conservative

26%

50

22

2

When it comes to Hollywood movie executives and trial lawyers, liberals and conservatives agree the government pays these groups too much attention, but conservatives are more likely to say this than liberals.

Views of Government Attention Paid
to Groups Aligned With the Democrats,
by Ideology


 

Too much

About
right

Too little

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

Hollywood movie executives

 

 

 

 

Liberal

67

22

5

6

Moderate

70

23

3

4

Conservative

81

12

5

2

 

 

 

 

Trial lawyers

 

 

 

 

Liberal

46

37

13

4

Moderate

54

33

9

4

Conservative

61

27

9

3

Regarding groups aligned with the GOP, the greatest liberal-conservative disagreement occurs in ratings of the perceived influence of religious conservatives. Seventy-five percent of liberals believe the government pays too much attention to this group, while only 29% of conservatives share this viewpoint. Conservatives are most likely to say the government is paying this group the right amount of attention (44%), with 26% saying too little attention is paid to them.

Views of Government Attention Paid to Religious Conservatives,
by Political Ideology


 

Too much

About
right

Too little

No
opinion

Liberal

75%

14

10

2

Moderate

53%

33

13

2

Conservative

29%

44

26

1

There is agreement that government pays too much attention to big corporations, but liberals (88%) are more likely than conservatives (67%) to hold this view. Seventy-one percent of liberals, compared with only 40% of conservatives, believe defense contractors get too much government attention.

Views of Government Attention Paid
 to Groups Aligned With the Republicans,
by Ideology


 

Too much

About
right

Too little

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

Big corporations

 

 

 

 

Liberal

88

7

4

1

Moderate

79

14

6

*

Conservative

67

23

8

2

 

 

 

 

Defense contractors

 

 

 

 

Liberal

71

16

11

2

Moderate

55

23

18

5

Conservative

40

38

17

4

* Less than 0.5%

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup Panel study are based on telephone interviews with 1,006 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted March 26-29, 2007. Gallup Panel members are recruited through random selection methods. The panel is weighted so that it is demographically representative of the U.S. adult population. For results based on these samples, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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