By JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Unsure what to get your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day? Nothing is the wrong answer.
An Associated Press-WE tv survey found only 17 percent of adults in committed relationships say they don’t want a gift this Friday or are skipping the holiday.
Flowers and candy top the list of preferred gifts. But there are those who want something pricey like a car, jewelry or a vacation, and others who’d be fine with a teddy bear.
About a third say they’d most like to have intangibles such as time together, health or happiness.
Overall, the survey found that Cupid’s arrow hits the target for most Americans.
Two-thirds of paired-off adults feel their relationships are perfect or nearly so. A scant 3 percent think their partnerships have serious problems.
All told, 68 percent of Americans are in committed relationships of some kind, and 11 percent aren’t currently coupled but would like to be. Seventeen percent say they aren’t seeking a relationship.
In this love-struck society, Valentine’s Day holds strong appeal. About 6 in 10 say they’re excited about Feb. 14, while a third say they feel more dread about the approaching onslaught of candy, flowers and dimly lit restaurants. Apprehension isn’t limited to the lonely: Even 11 percent of those who say they are in a great relationship dread Valentine’s Day.
Contrary to stereotypes, men are just as excited as women about Valentine’s Day. In a more expected finding, men are more likely than women to say they’re hoping for sex as a gift Friday (10 percent among men, 1 percent among women). Women are more apt to wish for flowers (19 percent vs. 1 percent among men). The survey found no significant gender differences on jewelry, chocolate or teddy bears.
A notable generational divide emerged on the gift front: Americans age 65 or older are more likely to say they’d like a card or note this Valentine’s Day (17 percent of seniors want a card; just 1 percent under age 30 say that’s their gift of choice). Perhaps there’s a lesson for the young: Seniors are also most apt to say their relationships are perfect and to see time spent with their partner as a key benefit of their relationship.
The poll, conducted by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications, also explored how Americans find partners and how they prioritize pairing off vs. other life goals.
For the 11 percent of Americans currently trying to find a committed relationship, there are all kinds of tools available to help. But traditional methods — asking out someone you know or having friends set you up on a date — outpace technological ones. Forty-one percent have used an online dating service, while 19 percent have tried an app that connects them to people nearby.
Overall, about half of adults say getting married or finding a romantic partner are important life goals, while more than two-thirds consider saving for retirement, owning a home or success in a career their most important or a very important goal.
For those who’ve found love and feel their relationship could use a little work, 75 percent are willing to make a great deal of effort or more to fix those problems. Three percent say they’re unwilling to work on their issues. Most of those, 72 percent, who see any kind of problem in their relationship attribute it to both partners equally. One in 6 says blame lies mostly with his or her partner. The bigger the problem, the more apt one is to blame a partner. Among those who say their relationships have only minor problems, 9 percent blame their partner, compared with 26 percent who report bigger issues.
One in 8 accepts the blame for any relationship problems. That peaks among married men, 21 percent of whom say their relationship flaws are their own fault, compared with just 5 percent among married women who see trouble in their relationships.
And what vexes Americans’ relationships most? More than 4 in 10 of those who say there are problems in their current relationship cite issues with their sex lives, communication, romance or finances. Those in unmarried couples were generally more apt to see problems than married people, except for two areas: sex life and romance.
The poll was conducted in conjunction with WE tv ahead of the launch of the show “Marriage Boot Camp,” from Jan. 17-21 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,060 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for the full sample.
Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.
AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.
Follow Jennifer Agiesta on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JennAgiesta
AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com
By RONALD BLUM
NEW YORK (AP) — Just over half of Americans surveyed plan to watch or follow the Winter Olympics, according to an Associated Press-GfK Poll, and one-third of respondents say they have only a little or no confidence about Russia’s ability to safeguard safety at the Sochi Games that start this week.
The likely audience for the Olympics is on the older side, with 65 percent age 50 or over planning to follow the quadrennial event compared with 47 percent among younger adults, according to the survey, conducted from Jan. 17-21.
Few are deeply confident Russia can keep the games safe: 19 percent are extremely or very confident Russia will protect the Olympics from terrorist attacks, 46 percent are somewhat confident and 33 percent just a little or not at all confident.
Asked how they would follow the games, 86 percent who said they would follow plan to watch events on television, while 17 percent intend to view online streams. Thirty-five percent say they will read about the results online and 20 percent in newspapers.
There’s a broad age gap, with one-third under age 40 planning to follow online streams and just 9 percent aiming to follow the Olympics in newspapers. Among senior citizens, 37 percent intend to read about the games in newspapers.
With the competition held in a time zone nine hours from the U.S. Eastern Standard Time, NBC’s prime-time coverage will include replayed events, but few are concerned about spoilers. Sixty-eight percent of respondents say it won’t matter if they know the results before broadcasts, and just 20 percent of those planning to watch will actively avoid learning of the results of events they care about prior to the telecasts.
While 61 percent of whites are interested in following the Olympics, the percentage among nonwhites dips to 43 percent. Sixty-nine percent from households with incomes of $100,000 or more plan to watch, with 26 percent in that group intending to avoid spoilers.
Figure skating is by far the most popular Winter Olympic sport, with 24 percent citing it as their favorite. A mixed team event was added this year in figure skating, which has competitive events on 11 of the Olympics’ 18 days.
Ice hockey is a distant second at 6 percent, followed by Alpine skiing and snowboarding at 4 percent each. Forty-six percent of respondents say they have no preference.
Among those planning to watch or follow, the percentage identifying figure skating as their favorite rises to 35 percent. There’s a gender gap, however, with 55 percent of women who plan to watch calling figure skating their favorite, compared with 15 percent of men. Among men, ice hockey runs even with figure skating; 16 percent call it their favorite.
While 45 percent of senior citizens who plan to watch say figure skating is their favorite, that falls to 24 percent for people under 40. Snowboarding tops the list for 12 percent under age 40.
Speedskating is the favorite of 11 percent of nonwhites but just 3 percent of whites.
The AP-GfK Poll was conducted using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,060 adults, and had a sampling error margin of plus-or-minus 3.9 percentage points for the full sample.
Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.
AP Director of polling Jennifer Agiesta and news survey specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.
AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s plan to raise the minimum wage for federally contracted workers is winning praise from unions and labor activists, but it could take a year or more before any hikes take place and the impact may not be as widespread as some advocates had hoped.
Obama announced in his State of the Union address Tuesday that he will sign an executive order setting the minimum wage for workers covered by new federal contracts at $10.10 an hour, a hefty increase over the current federal minimum of $7.25.
“I think it’s a huge step forward in that every action headed in the direction of lifting wages puts pressure on Congress to act,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, which has spent millions to help federally contracted workers and fast-food employees organize protests and strikes to demand higher wages.
But the increase is only expected to cover about 10 percent of the 2.2 million federal contract workers overall, since most of those employees already make more than $10.10. It won’t take effect until 2015 at the earliest and doesn’t affect existing federal contracts, only new ones.
Another wrinkle: The order won’t affect contract renewals unless other terms of the agreement change, such as the type of work or number of employees needed, according to White House officials.
That caveat is raising concerns for Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who has spent months urging Obama to increase wages for contractors. While Ellison called the announcement “a great first step,” he said he wants to make sure it’s implemented the right way.
“If you renew a contract, we expect everyone to make $10.10,” Ellison said.
Ellison said White House officials have estimated that about 200,000 low-wage workers would be affected by the order, including food service workers in federal buildings, security guards, cleaners and groundskeepers.
The White House has not said whether the wage increase will be indexed to go up as inflation rises, but that is also something Ellison would like to see once the executive order is drafted.
Obama hopes his order will pressure Congress “to get on board” and pass legislation increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 for all employees.
The move is sure to add to the growing debate about whether workers in low-wage industries like retail and fast-food should be paid more. And it is winning wide praise from Democratic lawmakers who want to pass a wage increase this year.
Obama’s announcement was a victory for labor unions who have stepped up public pressure on Obama to help raise wages. Government contract workers — with the backing of unions and other worker advocacy groups — have held protests seven times since last May to protest low pay for those working at landmark government buildings, including the Pentagon, the Smithsonian museums and Union Station. Those protesters have specifically called on Obama to raise their wages through an executive order.
Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, said raising the minimum wage would place a new burden on employers and hinder job creation.
“It’s simple math — if the cost of hiring goes up, hiring goes down,” Shay said.
Over at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, senior vice president Randy Johnson said the order appears to be very limited, but he’s waiting to see the fine print. Johnson also questioned whether Obama has legal authority to issue an order that conflicts with current federal minimum wage legislation passed by Congress.
A recent survey by the National Employment Law Project found that 77 percent of government contract employees who work in food service, retail or janitorial service earn less than $10 per hour. About 4 in 10 of those workers depend on public assistance programs such as food stamps and Medicaid, the study by the worker advocacy group found.
The latest Associated Press-GfK poll found that 55 percent of Americans back an increase in the minimum wage, while 21 percent oppose it and 23 percent are neutral. Most, 52 percent, say an increase in the minimum wage would do more to help than hurt the economy, while 27 percent feel it would do more harm than good. One in 5 thinks it wouldn’t have much impact on the economy.
Among Democrats, 77 percent favor an increase and 10 percent oppose it. Among Republicans, only 32 percent support an increase, 39 percent are opposed and 29 percent are neutral. The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.
Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, said Obama’s order could have a ripple effect on private employers in some industries and may help other workers who already earn slightly more than $10.10 get a wage boost as well. That has happened in past years when Congress raised the minimum wage, she said.
“Any concrete step that moves in the direction of raising wages for any workers contributes positively to the debate,” Owens said.
Unions representing federal workers applauded Obama’s announcement but complained that the president should also be supporting legislation to increase wages for the government’s own employees who earn less than $10.10 an hour.
“If the president is to have any credibility in talking about living wages, he needs to get his own house in order first and do everything in his power to establish $10.10 as the minimum wage for all federal hourly workers,” said J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees.
Associated Press Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.
Follow Sam Hananel on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SamHananelAP
By LARA JAKES and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — A majority of Americans support an agreement by the U.S. and five other world powers to limit Iran’s disputed nuclear program, but fewer believe it will keep the Islamic republic from building a nuclear bomb.
A new Associated Press-GfK poll gave President Barack Obama lower marks for his dealings with Iran.
The five-day survey, conducted Jan. 17-21, was ongoing as the interim agreement went into effect. It calls for Iran to cap uranium enrichment at a level far below what’s necessary to build a nuclear weapon. In exchange, world powers agreed to ease international sanctions by an estimated $7 billion to give some short-term relief to Iran’s crippled economy.
The temporary compromise is set to expire in July, giving negotiators six months to work on a plan to permanently prevent Iran’s nuclear program from becoming a threat.
The poll indicated that 60 percent of American adults approve of the six-month agreement.
But fewer than half — 47 percent — believe it might work.
”From a diplomatic standpoint, it would be great to be able to negotiate and come up with a solution that would eliminate the chance for nuclear weapons for Iran,” respondent Lance Hughey, 40, a lawyer from LaCrosse, Wis., said Monday.
However, “Iran is a difficult country to trust,” said Hughey, who identified himself as an independent voter with slightly Republican leanings. “And the leadership that we see out of D.C., the way things have been conducted with Syria … I don’t believe (the president) has the leadership skills to deal with Iran.”
The poll concluded that overall, 42 percent approve of how Obama handles Iran — about the same as 44 percent in December. Fewer strongly approve of his performance, 25 percent now compared with 30 percent in December.
Obama is the first U.S. president to talk directly with an Iranian leader since 1979, when the Iranian Revolution toppled the pro-U.S. shah and brought Islamic militants to power. Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke briefly by phone in late September, and opened the way for meetings and negotiations between U.S. and Iranian diplomats.
But the Obama administration has come under fire from lawmakers who say the tough trade and financial sanctions should not be eased until Iran agrees to all international demands, including settling once and for all any concerns that it may be trying to produce nuclear weapons.
Iran has denied it is seeking a bomb and says it is pursuing nuclear capabilities for peaceful purposes.
The next round of negotiations with Iran is expected to be held in New York next month. The U.S. and its negotiating partners — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — will be seeking a long-term agreement to halt Iran’s nuclear program
The AP-GfK Poll was conducted using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel. It involved online interviews with 1,060 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for all respondents. Those respondents who did not have Internet access before joining the panel were provided it for free.
AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.
Online: AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com