12/27/2005 - Public opinion played a major role in the most important news stories of the year, from President Bush's battle with an increasingly restive opposition, to the public's mounting anxiety about the war in Iraq, to the sharp public rebuke of Congress for its intervention in the Terry Schiavo affair. Many of the strongest trends in public opinion in 2005 carried over from previous years. On some issues, notably presidential popularity and the Iraq war, attitudinal trends strengthened even as public attention to related news subsided from previous highs. In other cases, notably the disastrous Gulf Coast hurricanes, events evoked intense public interest while also feeding into an undercurrent of shifting opinion about national priorities.
In a couple of instances–congressional intervention in the Schiavo feeding tube controversy and President Bush's campaign for his Social Security initiative–the trend in public opinion ran strongly counter to the intended effect. And other strong opinion currents–growing isolationist sentiment, persistent economic anxiety and rising disillusionment with the federal government–were not tied to any single news event.
There were also notable non-trend news stories. These include such happenings as bird flu outbreaks and the international outcry over U.S. torture policies where, despite headline coverage, the public was unmoved.
Finally there are those stories that attracted the most public attention. Many of these–Katrina, gas prices, events in Iraq, for example–also make the top trends list. Others such as the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Vioxx recall, were more in the nature of one time happenings.
Read the full commentary Top Opinion Trends And News Interest Stories Of 2005 on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.