Poll: Americans see gloom, doom in 2007
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press WriterSun Dec 31, 12:29 PM ET
Another terrorist attack, a warmer planet, death and destruction from a natural disaster. These are among Americans' grim predictions for the United States in 2007.
Only a minority of people think the U.S. will go to war with Iran or North Korea over those countries' nuclear ambitions. An overwhelming majority of those surveyed think Congress will raise the federal minimum wage. One-third see hope for a cure to cancer.
These are among the findings of an Associated Press-AOL News poll that asked people in the U.S. to contemplate what 2007 holds for the country.
Six in 10 people think the U.S. will be the victim of a terrorist attack. An identical percentage thinks it likely that a biological or nuclear weapon will be unleashed somewhere else in the world.
Seventy percent of people in the U.S. predict a major natural disaster in the country and an equal percentage expects worsening global warming. Also, 29 percent think it likely that the U.S. will withdraw its troops from Iraq.
Among other predictions for the U.S. in 2007:
_35 percent predict the military draft will be reinstated.
_35 percent predict a cure for cancer will be found.
_25 percent anticipate the second coming of Jesus Christ.
_19 percent think scientists are likely to find evidence of extraterrestrial life.
With Democrats poised to take control of Congress this week, eight in 10 people predict lawmakers will raise the $5.15-an-hour federal minimum wage. It would be the first increase since 1997.
Democratic leaders have proposed raising it in stages to $7.25 an hour. President Bush has said he supports the idea, with some protections for small businesses.
Fewer than half the public think it likely the U.S. will go to war with Iran or North Korea. Should it come down to that, 40 percent think the battle will be with Iran while 26 percent said North Korea.
Higher gas prices, legalized gay marriage and the possible arrival of bird flu also are seen as being in the cards.
More than 90 percent of people think higher gas prices are likely. A gallon of self-serve regular gasoline averaged $2.29 last week, compared with $3 over the summer.
Also, 57 percent said it is likely that another state will legalize gay marriage. Same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts; four other states offer civil unions or domestic partnerships.
People were split on whether 2007 will bring the U.S. its first bird flu case. More than 150 people worldwide have died from the disease. Health officials fear a pandemic if the virus mutates into a form easily passed from person to person.
Women generally were more likely than men to expect some of the more dire predictions to come true, such as a worldwide terrorist attack and war with Iran or North Korea. Democrats and people under 35 were more likely than Republicans and older people to say global warming will worsen in 2007.
The telephone poll of 1,000 adults was conducted Dec. 12-14 by Ipsos, an international polling firm. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.