By RACHEL COHEN, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Most NFL fans believe Commissioner Roger Goodell should keep his job after his handling of recent domestic violence cases, according to a new Associated Press-GfK Poll.
Only 32 percent say Goodell should lose his job over the issue, with 66 percent saying he shouldn’t.
Support for his handling of the cases is much lower, though, with 42 percent saying they disapprove. The same percentage neither approve nor disapprove, with just 15 percent approving.
Goodell initially suspended Ray Rice for two games after the Baltimore Ravens running back was charged with assaulting his then-fiancee. The commissioner defended the punishment at first, before admitting more than a month later that he “didn’t get it right.”
When a video of the assault later surfaced, Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely, saying the images constituted new evidence. Rice was released earlier that day by the Ravens.
The poll shows strong support for keeping Rice off the field for at least some period of time. Forty-three percent of fans say Rice should never be allowed to play again. Just 7 percent say he should be able to play now, with 49 percent saying he should be permitted to return after missing more time.
Opinions differed by gender and race. Slightly more than half of women say Rice should never be allowed to play again, compared with 37 percent of men. Just 19 percent of black fans say he should receive a permanent ban, while 46 percent of white fans support that.
Respondents were more receptive to the idea of Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson returning to the field. Peterson is currently on paid leave while he faces child abuse charges.
Fifty-four percent of fans say he should be allowed to play again if he is found not guilty, and another 29 percent say he should be able to return regardless of the case’s outcome. Only 15 percent say he should never play again.
Answers to this question also varied by gender and race. Thirty-four percent of men say Peterson should be allowed to return under any circumstances, compared with 22 percent of women. And 45 percent of black fans say he should be able to return no matter the verdict, while only 25 percent of white fans say that.
The poll suggests that the recent spate of highly publicized domestic violence cases has made a small dent in the NFL’s popularity. An AP-GfK Poll conducted in January found that 49 percent of respondents considered themselves fans of pro football. That number dropped to 43 percent in the current poll.
In January, 19 percent of respondents said their interest in the sport had increased in the previous five years, with 12 percent saying it had decreased. This time, 12 percent say it has increased while 15 percent say it has decreased.
Of the group with less interest, 42 percent say the recent domestic violence arrests have been an extremely or very important factor in that drop.
The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Sept. 25-29 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It included online interviews with 1,845 adults, including 836 NFL fans. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents and plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for the NFL fans.
AP News Survey Specialist Emily Swanson contributed to this report.
By JILL COLVIN and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans lack confidence in the government’s ability to protect their personal safety and economic security, a sign that their widespread unease about the state of the nation extends far beyond politics, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll.
With Election Day about a month away, more than half those in the survey said Washington can do little to effectively lessen threats such as climate change, mass shootings, racial tensions, economic uncertainty and an unstable job market.
“I think what we’ve got going on here in America is the perfect storm of not good things,” said Joe Teasdale, 59, who lives in southwest Wisconsin and works as an assistant engineer at a casino.
For many of those questioned in the poll, conducted before doctors in Texas diagnosed a Liberian man with the Ebola virus, the concern starts with the economy.
The poll found that 9 in 10 of those most likely to vote in the Nov. 4 election call the economy an extremely or very important issue. Teasdale is among those who say the slow recovery from the recession is a top concern.
Despite improvements nationally, business is far from booming in his state, Teasdale said. He’s been supplementing his stagnant salary by renovating and renting out duplexes and has little faith the situation will improve soon. He wants government to get out of the way of business.
“If you’re putting so much restriction on them where it isn’t practical for them to expand or grow, why should they?” Teasdale asked.
Those surveyed also pointed to events such as the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, that followed the fatal police shooting an unarmed black 18-year-old and the beheading of a woman in an Oklahoma food processing plant, apparently at the hand of a suspended co-worker.
“This is the first time I’ve felt insecure in my own country,” said Jan Thomas, 75, of Stevensville, Montana. “Especially after the beheading in Oklahoma. That’s scary.”
The poll found that Democrats tend to express more faith in the government’s ability to protect them than do Republicans. Yet even among Democrats, just 27 percent are confident the government can keep them safe from terrorist attacks. Fewer than 1 in 5 say so on each of the other issues, including climate change.
“There’s too many people who still don’t believe that it’s happening,” bemoaned Felicia Duncan, 53, who lives in Sharonville, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, and works as an office manager at a mechanical contracting company.
Urbanites tend to be more confident the government will keep them safe from terrorist threats than do people living in suburbs and rural areas. Younger Americans are more confident than older people that the government can minimize the threat of mass shootings. When it comes to quelling racial tensions, Hispanics are more confident than are blacks and whites.
Thirteen years after the Sept. 11 attacks, and as the Obama administration conducts airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, only 1 in 5 in the poll say they are extremely or very confident the government can keep them safe from another terrorist attack. Four in 10 express moderate confidence.
While there has not been a large-scale terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, roughly one-third of Americans say they are not too confident or not confident at all in the government’s ability to prevent another.
Bill Denison, 85, who lives in Bradenton, Florida, is among the minority who thinks the government is doing a good job keeping citizens safe, at least when it comes to preventing domestic attacks.
“Overall I think that the best job that we’ve done in this country is with anti-terrorism,” he said. “We’re doing a magnificent job and so far it’s been pretty successful.”
Still, he expressed disbelief at the recent security breaches involving Secret Service agents, including an incident in which a man scaled the White House fence and made his way deep into the executive mansion.
“The fact that a guy can run into the White House is pretty disturbing,” he said. “But we’re only human. And humans are going to make mistakes.”
The AP-GfK Poll was conducted September 25-29, 2014, using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,845 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents.
Respondents were selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were given free access.
Associated Press writer Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans contributed to this report.
AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com