WASHINGTON, D.C. -- From our unique vantage point, Gallup.Com reviews some of the most defining findings of the year that was 2008.
- After the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, a hypothetical match-up between John McCain and Barack Obama puts McCain ahead of Obama, 50% to 45% and more say they prefer a tested leader than say they prefer an inspiring one.
- In mid-January, almost two-thirds of Americans report giving "quite a lot" of thought to the upcoming presidential election, a Gallup high for January of an election year.
- Amid the United States' tough rhetoric toward Iran, Gallup Polls in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey confirm significant resistance among these Muslim nations to the idea of U.S. military action against Iran.
- The percentage of Americans who say it is a "bad time" to find a quality job surges to 71% from 60% in January, marking the biggest monthly jump since the immediate aftermath of 9/11.
- Bucking a trend evident since March 2004, the economy surpasses Iraq as what Americans perceive to be the most important problem facing the country.
- Despite neither candidate's having yet secured enough delegates to win the Democratic presidential nomination, 70% of Democrats and 82% of Republicans predict Obama will be the eventual winner.
- In a sharp turnaround from eight years ago, Americans no longer believe the United States is the world's leading economic power and instead bestow that mantle on China.
- Gallup Polls conducted worldwide provide new evidence that all along the national income scale, life satisfaction rises with average income level.
- A record 68% of Americans are dissatisfied with the United States' position in the world today -- the highest level Gallup has recorded.
- John McCain's favorable rating hits 67%, the highest of any of the three major presidential candidates and his highest since February 2000.
- More than a quarter of Hillary Clinton supporters (28%) say they would vote for John McCain if Barack Obama were the Democratic nominee.
- Gallup's key economic indicators hit new lows for the year, with 44% of Americans rating economic conditions as "poor" and 87% saying the economy is getting worse.
- The percentage of Americans identifying North Korea as the United States' greatest enemy falls to 9% from 18% in 2007, with Iran, Iraq, and China now leading the list.
- After the government steps in to keep Bear Stearns from going into bankruptcy, 6 in 10 Americans say they oppose the federal government's bailing out Wall Street investment firms.
- Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney top Republicans' wish list for John McCain's vice presidential running mate. Eventual running mate Sarah Palin is not on the list.
- As the protracted campaign for the Democratic nomination continues in high gear, Democrats are evenly split, 48% to 48%, on whether the race is hurting the party.
- Gallup Polls find U.S. citizens far more likely to approve of the leadership of other major nations than residents of these nations are to approve of U.S. leadership.
- Across the five countries that contribute more than half of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, Gallup Polls reveal that Americans and Japanese express the highest levels of environmental stewardship.
- Forty-two percent of Americans say rising gas prices at the pump are now a "crisis," more than say the same about any other economic issue.
- A majority of Democrats (60%) say that both Clinton and Obama should keep campaigning, though later, key Clinton constituencies begin moving toward Obama.
- Slightly more likely voters say McCain's association with President Bush makes them less likely to vote for McCain (38%), than say Obama's association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright diminishes their likelihood of voting for Obama (33%).
- The California Supreme Court's decision to overturn a state ban on gay marriage runs contrary to the viewpoint of the majority of Americans, 56% of whom oppose marriages between same-sex couples.
- For the first time in Gallup's 32-year history of asking the question, a majority of Americans (55%) say they are worse off financially than a year ago.
- As the final Democratic primary votes are cast, rank-and-file Democrats continue to prefer Obama (52%) to Clinton (43%) as the party's presidential nominee.
- Confidence in Congress reaches its lowest point ever, just 12%, and the lowest Gallup has ever measured for any institution.
- Gallup finds time spent with friends and family to be a key determinant of daily emotional well-being, largely explaining why weekends are consistently happier than weekdays.
- Coincident with his well-publicized trip abroad, Barack Obama enjoys his biggest lead yet over John McCain in Gallup Poll Daily tracking of registered voters, 49% to 40%.
- A new high 48% of Americans now say the U.S. troop surge in Iraq is making the situation there better, up from 40% in February.
- Gallup Polls around the world reveal that richer citizens are more likely than poorer citizens to want to migrate.
- Consumer confidence begins to edge up as gas prices go down.
- Initial reaction to both vice presidential running mate choices is similar -- with just under half of Americans rating the choices of Joe Biden and Sarah Palin as either excellent or good.
- As conflict erupts between Russia and Georgia, Gallup Polls reveal that majorities in both countries already perceived relations between the two countries to be breaking down.
- After the Democratic National Convention ends and the Republican National Convention begins, Obama enjoys the support of 50% of registered voters for the first time.
- After the candidates' respective national conventions, Gallup records a four-point bounce in support for Obama and a six-point bounce in support for McCain, with the latter moving McCain into the lead.
- After the end of the Republican National Convention, Republicans' enthusiasm about voting jumps substantially, to 60% from 42% in late August.
- As the U.S. economic crisis unfolds, Gallup measures a sharp increase in the percentage of Americans who are worried about money, from 34% to 44% in just a matter of days.
- A deep deterioration of consumer confidence measured since the start of the financial crisis levels off amid the possibility of an unprecedented U.S. government bailout of financial institutions.
- After a week of devastating losses on Wall Street, a mere 7% of Americans say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the United States, the lowest satisfaction reading in Gallup history.
- A record-high 82% of Americans say it is a "bad time" to find a quality job, the highest level since Gallup began asking this question in October 2001.
- President Bush's job approval rating hits a new administration low of 25%, only three percentage points above the lowest presidential approval rating in Gallup Poll history.
- Obama opens up a consistent lead over McCain amid concerns about the economy, and his advantage continues to hold in various likely voter scenarios.
- Across 73 countries, world citizens prefer Obama to McCain in the U.S. presidential election by a margin of more than 3 to 1.
- By month's end, 21% of registered voters have already cast ballots in the 2008 election, and blacks appear poised for historically high turnout.
- In Gallup's final pre-election poll estimate, 55% of likely voters prefer Obama and 44% prefer McCain.
- After Obama's election, 65% of Americans -- including nearly half of conservatives -- say they are confident in Obama's ability to be a good president.
- More than two-thirds of Americans see Obama's election as president as either the most important advance for blacks in the past 100 years, or among the two or three most important such advances.
- For the first time in 2008, as many employees say their companies are letting people go (26%) as say their companies are hiring (26%), marking a sharp contrast to earlier in the year.
- Americans are divided about the U.S. government's providing major financial assistance to Big Three U.S. automotive companies, with 47% favoring it and 49% opposing it.
- Americans project they will spend $616 on Christmas gifts this year, down from $866 last November, and the lowest estimate in Gallup's 10-year history of tracking this question.
- A Gallup Poll in India shows that before the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, a slim majority of Indians (55%) felt their government was doing enough to fight terrorism.
- Gallup's Net New Hiring measure correctly predicts that jobless claims will surge to a new high for the year.
- Slightly more Americans say the $700 billion bailout for U.S. financial institutions was a bad thing than say it was a good thing, 47% to 46%, marking a reversal from when the package was passed.
- Americans' collective level of happiness hits a 2008 low of 35% on Dec. 11, amid the jump in new jobless claims and the failure of an auto bailout bill. Happiness hits 65% on Christmas Day, tying Easter for the second happiest day of the year next to Thanksgiving at 67%.
- Despite news reports to the contrary, Gallup Poll Daily tracking finds no evidence that bad economic times are boosting church attendance in America.
- Obama earns the honor of being Americans' Most Admired Man of 2008 in a landslide. Clinton is named Most Admired Woman for the seventh consecutive year, while Palin debuts in a not-too-distant second.
Stay with Gallup.Com as we track reactions to the news as it happens in 2009.
Gallup surveys 1,000 national adults, aged 18 and older, every day and also conducts additional surveys. In most cases, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2-3 percentage points. For detailed survey methods on any results reported here, please visit the original story.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.