What was the most memorable news story of 2013? If you think it was Obamacare, the death of Nelson Mandela, the US government shutdown or the national debate over gun laws, you would be wrong. According to a national poll by Associated Press and the organizers of the annual Times Square New Year’s Eve countdown, the most memorable news story of 2013 was the birth of Prince George heir to the British throne.
The poll also shows that many Americans are optimistic that 2014 will be a better year for them, personally, than 2013. A shade under half, or 49 percent, of those polled participants responded that 2014 will be a better year than 2013, and just 14 percent said 2014 will be a worse year than 2013. The rest, 34 percent, believe there won’t be much difference between 2013 and 2014.
The poll was a two-fer, with one part for real news and another for pop culture news. Let’s review the real news first, and get to Prince George and the rest of the pop culture news later.
Most important news stories of 2013 – While the birth of the future king of England was rated the most memorable story of the year, it was not rated at most important news story of 2013. That was implementation of the 2010 health care overhaul, better known as Obamacare. Just over one-querter, or 26 percent, of participants named this the top news story of the year. Rounding out the top three were the federal government’s budget troubles – including sequestration, the fiscal cliff and the government shutdown – and the death of Nelson Mandela.
US budget crisis – When asked to rate the importance of 10 top news stories individually, 60 percent of Americans said that inability of Congress to pass a budget was a “very” or “extremely important” one.
Obamacare – Implementation of the 2010 health care overhaul ranked nearly as high, with 58 percent of people naming it as a “very” or “extremely” important story.
Gun laws and Boston Marathon bombings – The Boston Marathon bombing and the national debate over gun control laws were not far behind at 52 percent and 47 percent, respectively.
Now let’s get to rating pop culture news – and what was most popular, perhaps even most important –
Poll respondents were also asked to rate ten of the top pop culture events of 2013, from “very memorable” to “very forgettable.” Here’s the results in order of popularity, with with percentages in parentheses:
- The birth of Prince George, son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (38 percent)
- Lance Armstrong admits to using performance enhancing drugs (27 percent)
- The city of San Francisco transforms itself into Gotham for the Batkid (23 percent)
- Paula Deen apologizes for using racially offensive language (19 percent)
- Miley Cyrus’s performance at the MTV Video Music Awards (17 percent)
- Online streaming services Netflix, Amazon and Hulu release original programs (17 percent)
- The final season of Breaking Bad (14 percent)
- Books and essays sparking debate on women’s work-life balance, such as Lean In, Wonder Woman and Why Women Can’t Have It All (9 percent)
- The revelation that the dead girlfriend of Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o was a hoax (8 percent)
- The popularity of the Harlem Shake (6 percent)
Other key findings from the survey include:
- 2013 vs. 2012 – 32 percent said 2013 was a better year than 2012 for themselves personally, while only 20 percent said 2013 was worse than 2012, and just under half of participants said there wasn’t much difference between 2012 and 2013. People were evenly divided on how the year went for the United States, with half saying there wasn’t much difference between 2012 and 2013, and the rest divided evenly between saying 2013 was a better year for the country than 2012, or worse.
- Optimistic vs. pessimistic – No surprise that younger people are more optimistic about the future. 61 percent of those under 30 said they expected a better year in 2014 than 2013, compared with just 32 percent of those age 65 or older.
- Where we are celebrating New Year’s Eve – at home, 54 percent; at a friend of family member’s home, 19 percent; 18 percent will not celebrate and 8 percent will celebrate at a bar, restaurant or organized event. And wherever we are, more than half of us will be watching the Times Square New Year’s Eve Celebration on TV or livestream.
- Who is celebrating New Year’s Eve – 60 percent of married people say they’ll ring in the New Year at home, compared with 46 percent of unmarried Americans. Among the unmarried, just under one-quarter say they’ll be celebrating at someone else’s house or at a bar, restaurant or organized event.
The AP-Times Square New Year’s Eve Poll was conducted between Dec. 5 and Dec. 9, sampling 1,367 general population adults age 18 or older. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points at the 95 confidence level. See the complete survey findings at surveys.ap.org.
See NYC on the Cheap for a complete rundown of Times Square New Year’s Eve events and performers.