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How much support does cent really have?

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I just saw the latest Harris poll asking online respondents their opinion as to whether the cent should be abolished, making the nickel the lowest denomination in circulation.

It is no surprise that a majority is opposed. I was surprised by how small that majority has become: just 56 percent. Favoring abolition were 24 percent. Not sure came in at 20 percent.

These numbers seem to open the door to the possibility that the American public is persuadable on the issue of eliminating the cent. Perhaps the suggestion that the coin might become steel has gotten people to think about their attachment to the denomination and whether in the long run preserving it in circulation is worth it.

Now, before those who are opposed to abolishing the cent wonder how I can interpret numbers that seem to indicate rock solid support for the coin in the way that I have, I will try to explain myself.

Perhaps it is simply the political environment we are in today. I have seen polls this year of how states were going to vote in various primaries only to see actual results vastly different. They also changed day to day.

Can the same phenomenon be at work in ?save the cent polls?? Sure, this can cut both ways. Perhaps 90 percent of the public are adamant about keeping the cent, but somehow this opposition wasn?t registered by Harris when the poll was taken.

However, if the Harris numbers can be presumed to be a genuine reflection of public opinion during a time when there is no serious case being presented to abolish the denomination, then opposition to abolition must be remarkably weak.

The cracks in cent support are already showing. Thirty-four percent of men favor abolition of the denomination. A large number, but a minority, 49 percent, favor its retention.

Women are stronger for retention. Only 14 percent favor abolition while 62 percent oppose it. Is this a men are from Mars, women are from Venus thing?

People with higher incomes also seem more likely to favor the elimination of the cent. Some 32 percent of those earning $75,000 or more want the denomination terminated. For those earning $35,000 or less only 16 percent want to see the cent go.

So, if a serious proposal to abolish the cent were made, which side would prove to be the more persuadable? People with high incomes and men seem most receptive to the idea of eliminating the cent.That?s a good opportunity to throw the question out to readers, because nearly all of you are men.

Send me an e-mail. Do you favor elminating the cent or retaining it? Explain why. Other readers would like to know. Also, if you oppose elminating the cent, is there a case that can be made that would persuade you to change your mind?

My interpretation of the data may be incorrect, or perhaps I have been hanging around my sales department too much lately (you know: a potential client saying no is only the beginning of the effort to make the sale).

Send me that e-mail at david.harper@fwpubs.com, or write me at 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990.

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