The Week in Polls

What does the world really think? Today: Germans on socialism, Russians on gentility, and gay men on the British royals.

You’d think that pollsters would be so wrapped up in every twitch of the American electorate that they’d have no time left for any other investigation. Fear not. They’ve been hard at work, prying into our group mind on everything from Russian gentility to German socialism to the relative hotness of the British royals. Here’s the best of the week. A survey done for the National Retail Federation found that US consumers plan to spend $832.36 on holiday shopping this year, which is actually up from last year. Yes, it’s a scant 1.9 percent increase, but we know a lot of CEOs who’d do the dance of the renewed contract for that kind of stock performance. A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll found that 47 percent of Americans are concerned that McCain would not finish a four-year term in good health. A new Zogby poll finds that 42 percent of people want to revise the free-trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, and 17 percent want to withdraw from it altogether. Fifty-eight percent of us want to expand the fence on the Mexican border. Isolationalism is the new globalization. A BBC World Service poll of 26 countries found that 60 percent of people say that rising food and fuel costs has affected them “a great deal.” Nearly half have changed their diets. Bad news for incumbents everywhere: 70 percent of those surveyed are unhappy with how governments have responded. Over in East Germany, a poll found that 43 percent of people would prefer socialism over capitalism. The Reuters story that reported this also noted that sales of Das Kapital have tripled this year and have experienced a 100-fold increase since 1990. This longing for grimness actually has its own portmanteau word, ostalgie. In the at-least-you-have-a-job-don’t-whine department, a new survey about desk rage finds that 37 percent of workers are mistreated on the job, and 23 percent have been reduced to tears. After the French anthem was jeered by “second- and third-generation Tunisian immigrants” at a soccer game, President Sarkozy has ordered that if it happens again, the game must be canceled. Eighty percent of French voters were “shocked” at the display. A survey revealed that while 81 percent of wealthy hedge fund investors are looking to move their money, only 29 percent of those at smaller hedge funds are planning to bail. Ninety-nine percent of Russians will give up their seats to the elderly or “invalids”—in the politically incorrect language of the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti. Given that Russian life expectancy levels are among the world’s lowest, don’t expect to see a lot of people standing. A survey in the UK found that two-thirds of children “long for their dad to spend more time with them,” and 22 percent said their father is more interested in his hobbies than in them. A poll found that single gay men would prefer to go on a date with Prince Harry than Prince William. Harry received more than a third of the vote, while William checked in at 23 percent. Ten percent stated that they wanted a ménage-à-royale. Finally, in a kind of meta-poll from Canada, a national survey found that 49 percent of people are “sick of hearing about new poll results.”