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Release Date: Dec 26, 2013

Poll Finds That Americans Think Most Important News Story of 2013
is the Implementation of the Health Care Overhaul

Birth of Prince George Rates as Most Memorable Pop Culture Moment Of 2013

New York, N.Y. - The Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment, co-organizers of Times Square New Year’s Eve, along with the Associated Press, today unveiled the results of the first-ever AP-Times Square New Year’s Eve poll. The poll highlighted the public’s expectations for the New Year and captured their opinions about the most important news stories and most memorable pop culture moments of 2013.

The poll showed that many Americans are optimistic that 2014 will be a better year for them, personally, than 2013. 49 percent of the participants responded that 2014 will be a better year than 2013, compared with only 14 percent who responded that 2014 will be a worse year than 2013. 34 percent of the participants responded that there won’t be much difference between 2013 and 2014.

On New Year's Eve, more than 150 million Americans - 57 percent, according to the poll - will watch the Times Square New Year's Eve Celebration.  73 percent of Americans will enjoy celebrating the New Year with family and friends at a private home.

The survey also highlighted the public’s take on the most important news stories of the year, including the healthcare overhaul, death of Nelson Mandela, federal government budget troubles, national debate over gun laws, bombings at the Boston Marathon, general politics, natural disasters, revelations about the NSA and more. When asked to rate the importance of 10 top news stories individually, 60 percent of Americans said that the government’s inability to pass a budget was a "very" or “extremely important” one. The 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. The Boston Marathon bombing and the national debate over gun control laws were not far behind at 52 percent and 47 percent, respectively.

When asked separately to name the most important story of 2013, 26 percent of participants named the implementation of the 2010 health care overhaul. Rounding out the top three issues cited were the death of Nelson Mandela, whose death was announced as the poll began fielding, and the federal government’s budget troubles - including sequestration, the fiscal cliff and the government shutdown - which were each chosen by 8 percent of respondents as the most important news story of 2013.

On a lighter note, Americans viewed the birth of Britain’s Prince George, son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as the most memorable pop culture moment of 2013.   Placing second and third respectively were Lance Armstrong’s confession of performance enhancing drug use and the city of San Francisco transforming itself into Gotham for the Batkid.

“New Year’s Eve is a time to reflect on the past year and take stock of all that we have accomplished - and all that we have endured,” said Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance. “Now for the very first time, thanks to our collaboration with AP we can see what people across the United States thought were the most important and memorable moments in 2013.”

"The million revelers in Times Square will be joined by over 150 million Americans across the country and over one billion viewers around the world as we countdown in unison the final seconds of 2013," said Jeffrey Straus, President of Countdown Entertainment. "I am thrilled to be part of this global celebration ringing in a New Year full of hope for a wonderful 2014." 

Poll respondents were also asked to rate ten of the top pop culture events of 2013, from “very memorable” to “very forgettable.” Based on the aggregate of those who responded either “very” or “somewhat memorable,” results are ranked below from most to least memorable (with percentages in parentheses):

  1. The birth of Prince George, son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (38 percent)
  2. Lance Armstrong admits to using performance enhancing drugs (27 percent)
  3. The city of San Francisco transforms itself into Gotham for the Batkid (23 percent)
  4. Paula Deen apologizes for using racially offensive language (19 percent)
  5. Miley Cyrus’s performance at the MTV Video Music Awards (17 percent)
  6. Online streaming services Netflix, Amazon and Hulu release original programs (17 percent)
  7. The final season of Breaking Bad (14 percent)
  8. 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)
  9. The revelation that the dead girlfriend of Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o was a hoax (8 percent)
  10. The popularity of the Harlem Shake (6 percent)

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • 54 percent of participants will celebrate New Year’s Eve at home, 19 percent at a friend of family member’s home, 18 percent will not celebrate and 8 percent will celebrate at a bar, restaurant or organized event.
  • 32 percent said 2013 was a better year than 2012 for themselves personally, while only 20 percent said 2013 was worse than 2012. 46 percent of participants said there wasn’t much difference between 2012 and 2013.
  • People were evenly divided on their opinions of how the year went for the United States, with 25 percent saying 2013 was a better year for the country than 2012, 25 percent saying 2013 was  worse than 2012 and 47 percent saying there wasn’t much difference between 2012 and 2013.
  • Young people are most apt to be optimistic about the coming year, 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.
  • 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, about three in 10 say they’ll be celebrating at someone else’s house (22 percent) or at a bar, restaurant or organized event (9 percent).

The AP-Times Square New Year’s Eve Poll was conducted from December 5 to December 9, 2013 by GfK Public Affairs & Corporate Communications. The poll is based on a nationally-representative probability sample of 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.

To see the complete list of survey findings, please visit: surveys.ap.org.

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About AP
The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP. On the Web: www.ap.org.
About Times Square New Year’s Eve
The Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment are the organizers of Times Square New Year’s Eve. The Times Square Alliance works to improve and promote Times Square—cultivating the creativity, energy and edge that have made the area an icon of entertainment, culture and urban life for over a century. Countdown Entertainment represents the owners of One Times Square and the New Year’s Eve Ball.

For more information about Times Square New Year’s Eve, visit www.TimesSquareNYC.org.
To join the Times Square New Year’s Eve conversation on Twitter, follow #BallDrop.

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Rubenstein Communications, Inc.

Alison Hendrie, 212-843-8029, AHendrie@Rubenstein.com
Jennifer Pastrich, 212-843-8096, JPastrich@Rubenstein.com

Times Square Alliance
Gia Storms, (212) 452-5205, GStorms@TimesSquareNYC.org