The Topline: US Olympics? Yes In Your Back Yard

Americans really want to host the 2024 Olympics. They want it more than they have in the past. They want it more than other countries do. They want it more than almost any country ever has. US cities were in the running for the Olympics twice in recent years, with 54 percent and 61 percent national support, respectively. This time around, a resounding 89 percent of Americans support the idea of the United State hosting the Games, according to an AP-Gfk poll conducted in June. If this level of support holds (and is not an outlier), it's not just higher than previous US bids. It's higher than most other countries that have bid for the Olympics since the International Olympic Committee began publishing polls in prospective host nations. Since the 2008 games, there have been just two instances (both in China) where support for hosting the games exceeded 89 percent support.

American support also clocks in above any of the other countries with a city currently bidding for the Summer 2024 Games. Media polls show France with 73 percent support, leading Hungary and Germany, each with around 60 percent support.


Sky-high national support for bringing the games to the US may come as a bit of a surprise in Boston, the US bid for 2024 games, and where polls continue to show serious skepticism. Recent polls around Boston and across the state have shown support languishing in the low to mid-40s. Support has been so low that some speculated that the US Olympic Committee (USOC) would pull the plug on the Boston bid when they met last month.

The USOC stuck with the Boston bid, but USOC Chairman Larry Probst said he'd like to see public support over 50 percent "relatively soon" and "ultimately" hit 60 percent in favor. Notably, there have been no local polls conducted in other potential 2024 cities. So we don't know for sure whether Boston's hesitation is unique, or if naysayers in Paris and Rome will be just as vocal as Bostonians have been.

The GfK/AP poll suggests Boston 2024 might have a strong customer base for domestic sponsorships, which are expected to bring in $1.5 billion. But the poll comes with a few important caveats that help put the high support numbers in context. First, the poll didn't zero in on the Boston bid; it asked about an American Olympiad generically, and then whether respondents would want the Games in their state or area. Support dropped as the questions hit closer to home. Three-quarters (75 percent) support an Olympics in their home state and three-fifths (61 percent) would want the Games in their own area. And just over half (56 percent) think "hosting the Olympics has usually been worth the cost for the local areas where they are played."

This downward step-pattern in support levels ends up just about where Boston support was when the city was first chosen in January; just over half. At that time, the idea of a Boston Olympics was mostly theoretical, with little public awareness of the details of what hosting would entail. The people surveyed by AP-GfK were responding to a similar uninformed hypothetical - the idea of a local Olympics, untempered by months of tweets, FOIAs, op-eds, public forums, and conversations over the office Keurig machine.

It's easier to get excited about a US Olympics somewhere else: it's all of the patriotism with none of the responsibility.

Note: The AP-GfK poll was conducted among 1,005 respondents June 19-21, 2015. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 3.0 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level



2016 update, with rankings

Top 10 lists are a dime a dozen, but the one Fox will announce for the first Republican debate on Aug. 6 matters a lot.  An average of certain GOP primary polls will determine who makes the stage for the first GOP debate in August. A few candidates have polled consistently high enough to count on securing a ticket, but below that is a desperate, disorganized scramble such that the final list of participants may come down to little more than sampling error.

Donald Trump's rise in the polls probably doesn't signal long term viability as a candidate. But for now, he's sucking up a lot of oxygen both in the news and on social media. He has insulted, offended, or threatened to sue a whole lot of people since he started running. Between that and lost business deals, he could easily wallpaper one of his extremely large and luxurious buildings with recent news articles about himself. In the social media arena, his impact is just as noticeable. The only candidate with better stats on announcement day was Hillary Clinton.

Most polls agree that Jeb Bush is doing well in the national GOP primary, even if the state by state polls are a bit more mixed. But the WSJ/NBC poll finds is not all sunshine and roses for the Bush campaign.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton remains way ahead nationally. But Iowa and New Hampshire have tightened up somewhat, with Bernie Sanders narrowing the gap. Whether Clinton continues to #feelthebern remains to be seen, but The Upshot's Nate Cohn is skeptical.


The final polls on the Greece referendum whiffed by nearly a 20-point margin. Sure, the Greeks had lots on their mind other than answering polls, like securing basic necessities. But this wasn't the first time in the past year that the polling data has missed the mark. Nate Silver investigates what's behind the trend.

SCOTUS aftermath

Same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states, and a majority of Americans support the idea. Public opinion on the issue has shifted remarkably quickly, both due to generational replacement and people changing their mind. When the question was first asked on the 1989 General Social survey, just 12 percent supported the idea, Nate Silver reports.

Citizens and presidential hopefuls who oppose the ruling are split over what to do next, divided between contesting the ruling and moving on to other issues. Supporters and detractors of the decision agree the argument isn't over yet.  

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Republican Pollster Kristian S. Anderson's new book is out. From the Amazon overview:

"The Selfie Vote introduces you to tech-savvy political consultants and shows you how these hip young pollsters and consultants are using data mining and social media to transform electoral politics-including tracking your purchasing history. Make some purchases at a high-end culinary store? Crave sushi? Your choices outside the ballot box can reveal how you might vote. And anyone interested in the future of politics should know where these cultural trends are heading.


Data-driven yet highly readable, The Selfie Vote busts established myths about campaigns and elections while offering insights about what's ahead-and what it could mean for American politics and governance."

We're thinking if you read all the way to the bottom of this newsletter, you would probably like it.