Recently, a nice lady on our CivicScience Facebook page went on a rant and accused us of being “alt-Reich wing nuts” because of results to a poll she took. This week, we had the pleasure of being called “a bunch of libtard morons” by another eloquent poll-taker. These weren’t based on any analysis we had written, mind you, just some quick poll results. People didn’t like the numbers – that they just contributed to – so they dismissed them (and us) as “fake”.
Perfectly sums up why we don’t publish political polling here. We can put all the rigor and objectivity in the world into our methods but if the results don’t align with someone’s preferred narrative, we’re attacked for bias. No thanks. You network news folks can have that space all to yourselves.
Here are some less toxic things we’re seeing right now…
Consumer confidence is on a bit of a roller coaster ride. Our most recent Economic Sentiment reading showed a significant overall decline over the past two weeks, with every contributing indicator moving down and to the right. But notice below how the numbers surged in the last five days of the reading, after bottoming out in the first week of December. It will be interesting to see if the traditional consumer confidence indices capture this granularity in their upcoming reports. In any event, whatever spooked consumers after Thanksgiving seems to have dissipated. Let’s hope this is a good sign for last-minute holiday shopping.
A non-trivial number of those last-minute holiday shoppers might be using Alexa to order gifts. I actually just saw this question even thoughwe asked it 6 weeks ago. In early November, 5% of U.S. consumers said they planned to do at least some holiday shopping using a voice activated speaker like Alexa or Google Home. We’re going to run a similar question after the holidays to see who actually DID shop this way. But even at 5% of the total population, that’s a meaningful number and a solid baseline to track against going forward.
NPR radio listeners are down 18% since the election last year. This may just be a return to reality after an artificial high during Trump-Clinton Mania. Or maybe people are migrating away from longer-form substantive reporting in favor of shorter reads and Tweets. It’s likely a combination of both. Regardless of the reason, if you’re a supporter of public radio, it’s no good.
Meanwhile, people are spending more time in the car. This chart doesn’t look that dramatic but the percentage of Americans who spend less than an hour/day in the car has fallen from 67% at the beginning of 2016 to only 59% right now. Are people just dealing with more traffic where they live? Are they moving to far-away suburbs and adding to their commute? We’ll try to figure that out. But if I had bet which way these results were trending before I looked at them, I would have lost. All we hear about is increased use of public transportation and Millennials ditching their cars to bike to work. This flies in the face of that.
While consumer confidence dipped, investor confidence is continuing to climb. Our Investor Sentiment Index with PNC Bank reported a second consecutive month of improvement – and that didn’t take the proposed new tax bill into account. You can read the full analysis here but it will be really fascinating to see how this number changes in the coming weeks as the tax legislation progresses.
Lifestyle-related TV content viewing is on the rise again. This is a wild chart (below) to feast your eyes on. We collapsed a bunch of answer options to show the trend in how many people watch travel, home, or cooking shows in a given week, going back almost two years. You can see pretty clearly how viewership in this category plummeted during the 2016 election season and almost jumped off the page in Q1 of this year. It seems to have fallen slightly again this fall, as people shift their attention to fall TV premieres and the NFL (yes, people do still watch). Still, it’s easy to wonder if people just found these lifestyle shows to be a soothing escape when the campaign coverage came to an end.
A Few Random (Work) Stats
• 51% of people would continue to work if they won the lottery. 49% would quit
• 40% of people socialize with colleagues outside of work. 60% don’t
• 65% of people say they have known about a colleague at work who was having an affair
• 54% of people say it bothers them “to no end” when a colleague comes to work sick
• 19% of people admit to having lied on a resume or job application
Have a great weekend – unless you’re rooting for the New England Patriots on Sunday. Then I hope your Sunday is miserable. 🙂
In case you’re wondering, this is an informal email I write to CivicScience clients, friends, and other VIPs every Saturday morning. If you’re getting this, you’re either one of those people or were referred to me by one of them. I always love your comments and feedback.