|arts & leisure|
Poll: Americans Are Nervous
By Declan McCullagh
March 17, 1999
Polling the public is fast becoming the media's favorite way of keeping tabs on that scary thing called Y2K.
A recent ABC News poll found that nearly a third of all Americans have been infected with Y2K jitters. They're going to stockpile food, water, money, and personal financial records. A Time Magazine/CNN poll early this year learned a full one-quarter of Americans won't fly during New Year's Eve.
A January 1999 poll by the Freedom Forum, on the other hand, found that Americans are sick and tired of lurid tales of survivalists stockpiling creamed corn. Instead, readers want to know how prepared local hospitals and power plants will be.
Now the US National Science Foundation is trying its hand. For an undisclosed amount of our tax dollars, the government has reported back with... well, pretty much what we knew already.
Here's how the agency described its poll: Specifically, we are seeking input and comments from all interested persons on their views of the value of computer technology in their lives, and their familiarity with and level of comfort when using computers and their familiarity with problems that may result from year 2000 computer conversion issues.
In an effort to obtain the public's input and useful information, the National Science Foundation has developed the questions that follow. Responses from the public will be used only in the aggregate, and only to help NSF in its efforts to better explain itself and its activities to the American public.
The unsurprising result? The NSF found, in the poll jointly conducted with USA Today, that people are more likely than ever before to say they're stockpiling food and water. They also believe corporations are better prepared than government agencies -- probably a safe bet. The details follow.
RESULTS ARE BASED ON TELEPHONE INTERVIEWS WITH -- 1,021 -- NATIONAL ADULTS, AGED 18+, CONDUCTED MARCH 5-7, 1999.
FOR RESULTS BASED ON THE TOTAL SAMPLE OF NATIONAL ADULTS, ONE CAN SAY WITH 95% CONFIDENCE THAT THE MARGIN OF SAMPLING ERROR IS +or- 3 PERCENTAGE POINTS.
1. As you may know, most computer systems around the world have to be reprogrammed so that they can accurately recognize the date once we reach the Year 2000. Do you think that computer mistakes due to the Year-2000 issue will cause major problems, minor problems, or no problems at all?
2. Do you think that computer mistakes due to the Year-2000 issue will cause major problems, minor problems or no problems at all for you personally?
3. How much have you seen or heard about the Year 2000 computer bug problem, sometimes called the Millennium Bug or the Y-2-K bug, before now -- a great deal, some, not much, or nothing at all?
4. To the extent Y2K computer problems occur, how long do you think they will last -- [ROTATE 1-4/4-1]?
5. Do you or your household plan to take any steps to prepare or protect yourself from problems that might result from the Y2K computer problem? IF YES: What specific actions or precautions are you planning to take as January 1, 2000 approaches?
BASED ON FORM A: N = 516; MARGIN OF SAMPLING ERROR = +/- 5 PCT. PTS.
BASED ON FORM B: N = 505; MARGIN OF SAMPLING ERROR = +/- 5 PCT. PTS.
7. Next I'm going to read some specific problems. As I read each one, please say whether you think it likely or unlikely to occur as a result of Y2K.First, ... Next, ... ROTATE A-F:
8. As you may know, efforts are currently underway throughout the country to upgrade computer systems in order to correct the Y2K computer problem. We'd like to know whether you are generally confident or NOT confident that each of the following levels government and business will have upgraded their computer systems before any Y2K problems can occur. ROTATE A-G
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