Young Adults At Work, Love On Wheels, Etc.

Which is true: The majority of young-adult workers (a) just fell into their current jobs by chance or (b) have mainly positive feelings about their jobs. Oddly enough, both are true, judging by the results of a Public Agenda survey of 18-25-year-olds. Among those who work full- or part-time, 63 percent said they ended up in the job “more by chance,” vs. 36 percent who said it’s something they’d been “hoping to do for quite some time.” Asked how they feel about the job, 27 percent said they love it, 48 percent like it, 15 percent neither like nor dislike it, 6 percent dislike it and 4 percent hate it. Another question found 46 percent saying the job is “just a job to get you by,” with 36 percent calling it “a stepping stone to a career” and just 18 percent calling it “a career.” The survey also asked the young adults (workers and non-workers alike)to say which of several factors is the most important for succeeding in a career. “Being persistent and having inner drive” won far more votes (41 percent) than “knowing how to deal with people well” (24 percent), “getting a college degree” (21 percent) or “having connections with the right people” (14 percent).

They may get lost, but at least they’ll enjoy their music while trying to figure out where they are. In a survey by TNS, teens age 16-19 were asked to say which of several automotive accessories would be “must-have” items on their first vehicle. “Premium audio system” had far more takers than a GPS navigation system (68 percent vs. 27 percent). Other must-have features: MP3 player (34 percent), TV/DVD (23 percent) and Internet access (10 percent). So nice to know these novice motorists won’t be distracted as they drive down the road. Do the teens yearn for zippy little sports cars or massive SUVs? Actually, when asked to specify the body type they want for their first vehicle, 37 percent of respondents picked the four-door sedan, ranking it just ahead of the two-door coupe/sporty genre (33 percent). The pickup (13 percent) and SUV (8 percent) lagged far behind.

How “sticky” are the Republican and Democratic brands? A report from the Annenberg Public Policy Center gives a clue. In polling conducted from October 2003 through November 2004 in the continental U.S., registered voters were asked to say which party (if either) they identify with. (Due to sample size, results were not given for nine small states and the District of Columbia.) Of the 39 states covered in the report, Bush won 13 where self-identified Democrats outnumber Republicans: Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and West Virginia. Kerry won two states—Maine and Oregon—where Republicans outnumber Democrats. The survey’s findings also remind us that the distinction between red states and blue states is overstated. Due to large numbers of independents, there were no states in which a majority of voters aligned themselves with either party. In just three states did Republicans account for 40 percent or more of voters: Nebraska, Utah and Kansas. There were six states where the number of Democrats reached the 40 percent mark: Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania and Louisiana.

It’d be nice to think consumers pick a car dealership based on smart advertising. Philistines that they are, though, a plurality of them are most swayed by price when deciding where to buy a new car. In a Scarborough Research survey of potential new-car buyers, 33 percent pointed to price as “a primary reason they chose the last auto dealership where they made a purchase.” Other factors were vehicle selection (cited by 22 percent), dealer reputation (20 percent), location (19 percent), service (17 percent), financing (11 percent) and warranty (10 percent). Meanwhile, are high gasoline prices driving consumers away from oversized vehicles? The survey suggests otherwise. Among the people who said their household will buy a new vehicle in the next 12 months, 29 percent expect to buy an SUV; 19 percent plan to buy a pickup truck, and 12 percent said they’ll go for a van or mini-van.

Whether it wants to or not, France has crept back into Americans’ good graces. In a Gallup poll conducted shortly before U.S. troops ousted the ancien régime in Iraq in 2003, 64 percent of Americans said they had an unfavorable opinion of France, vs. 34 percent holding a favorable view. (You’ll recall that France did its best to obstruct U.S. policy.) Even a year later, a plurality of Americans still thought ill of France (49 percent unfavorable, vs. 47 percent favorable). Now, in a Gallup survey fielded this month, the favorable vote has become a slim majority (51 percent, vs. 43 percent unfavorable). While hardly a warm embrace of France, these numbers do suggest that the heyday of “freedom fries” is now well behind us. For comparison’s sake, though, one should note that France’s favorable rating never dipped below 70 percent in Gallup’s polling during the 1990s.

In popular stereotype, commuting by car is sheer misery. As we learn from an ABC News/ Time/Washington Post poll, though, 60 percent of drivers actually like their commute. The number of positive responses is boosted by people who work in towns or rural areas, where traffic tends to be tame; 71 percent of commuters in those places enjoy the drive. But nearly half the respondents who drive into big cities say they like it, too. Even among people who say the traffic they face is “bad,” 46 percent like commuting. How could this be? For one thing, four in 10 drivers say they love their cars—”not just like them, but love them.” Nearly all drivers say they’re sometimes aggravated while behind the wheel. As you can see from the chart below, though, the emotions people “very often” experience while driving skew more to the positive than the negative. Still, driving does bring out the beast at times: 21 percent of the respondents admitted to making “impolite gestures” at least occasionally when they’re driving.