Americans attracted to, and want more, films and TV shows focused on social issues and causes

January 24, 2019 --- In a new survey conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights for Tirota, 80% of American movie and TV viewers say they are attracted to movies and documentaries addressing important social issues or causes, and 80% also feel that the entertainment industry should produce more movies and TV series exploring such issues.

Pollara conducted the online survey among a randomly-selected national sample of N=1,000 adult Americans who had seen at least one recently released movie or viewed a current episodic TV show over the past 12 months. The survey was conducted between November 28 and December 3, 2018.

Among the 53% who reported going to the movies at least once per month, 40% had seen three or more social issue-focussed films over the past 12 months.

Nine-in-ten (90%) feel that movies can play an important role in informing people about social issues, and 77% feel that movies and TV shows with this focus are all the more important given the current political climate.

“The survey evidences a strong preference for purpose-driven content across key demographics, including age, gender, ethnicity, education level and even political outlook," said Pollara President Craig Worden. “Americans don’t always agree on the substance of an issue, but there is a clear desire for substantive content and engagement.”

Notably, social issue-focussed films and TV shows are on an equal footing with the news media in the eyes of movie and TV watchers. When asked who they trust most to truthfully and fairly represent social issues, equal proportions of Americans choose filmmakers (27%) and the news media (27%). Just 4% trust politicians, and 43% trust none of the above.

For further details, see article in the Hollywood Reporter or survey releases at Tirota and Tiller.

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Public Approval for USMCA Declines Slightly after GM Oshawa Plant Closure

January 17, 2019 --- After GM announced the closing of their Oshawa plant, many pundits assumed that public approval for the newly re-negotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) - also known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) - would plummet. However, our latest survey on this issue reveals that is not the case.

Compared to October 2018, we now see a slight decline in public approval for USMCA and the Trudeau Government’s handling of the negotiations – with disapproval largely holding steady and uncertainty increasing more than disapproval.

  • Canadians who hold an opinion on the matter are split – as about half approve of the USMCA deal (48%) and the Trudeau Government’s handling of the negotiations (50%).
  • Consistent with our previous waves of research on free trade deals and foreign policy matters, about 20-25% of the public tends to answer Don't Know/Unsure to these questions, likely reflecting a lower level of public engagement or comfort with such subject matter.

A slightly slimmer plurality (35%; -4) of Canadians – 45% of those with an opinion – feel that the Trudeau Government got the best possible deal, but the proportion who feel they should have continued negotiating for a better deal (31%) remains unchanged.

  • Instead, there are slight increases in the proportions who are opposed to any free trade agreement (12%; +2) or express uncertainty in their opinion on the matter (22%; +2).

Regionally speaking, it is notable that Ontarians - residents of the province that is home to the shuttered GM plant - continue to provide among the highest approval levels throughout the survey.

See the full details in our report and associated data tables.

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Economic Outlook 2019: Canadians in Psychological Recession

January 13, 2019 --- The results are in for the 24th annual edition of Pollara Strategic Insights’ Economic Outlook Study – Canada’s longest-running study of the public’s perceptions and expectations of the economy and their personal financial situation. And, it reveals that the public mood has turned anxious and negative.

Although the Great Recession has long been in Canada’s rear-view mirror, Canadians did not actually feel that the economy was out of recession until last year. However, the positive outlook of a year ago has proven short-lived, as Canadians are once again in a psychological recession as they head into 2019. Similar to the 2017 edition of this study, half (56%, +21) feel the economy is in recession, with just a third (32%; -18) correctly perceiving it to be in a period of growth.

  • These negative perceptions of the economy are found across all provinces/regions.
  • Far more Canadians feel the country is experiencing a mild (48%) than a severe (9%) recession.
  • And, among those who believe Canada is in a recession, most (48%) expect it to be of a relatively short duration – either 6-12 months (25%) or 13-18 months (23%).  This is a more positive expectation than in previous years, when Canadians who believed the economy was in recession tended to expect a long period of economic difficulty.

Most Canadians hold a neutral-negative outlook for 2019, expecting the Canadian economy and employment levels to remain unchanged or to worsen. Less than two-in-ten expect improvements.

  • Contextually, the public holds somewhat more negative expectations for the U.S. and global economies.

These negative views of the economy are consistent with the public's assessment of their personal financial situation, where perceptions and expectations have turned negative since last year.

  • Overall, half continue to hold their own, but more are now losing ground (31%; +7) than getting ahead (13%; -8).
  • When considering how their household income will perform vis-à-vis the cost of living in 2019, Canadians are notably less optimistic than last year: 44% (+6) expect to fall behind compared to 42% (-4) who expect to keep pace.

See the full details in our report and associated data tables, as well as further perspective via John Geddes' article in Maclean's.

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