When the entire world latches on to a cause via social media…anything is possible.
All across social media, celebrities and regular citizens seem to be dumping ice water on their heads to raise money for and awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In fact, the vast majority of Americans have avoided the ice bucket challenge so far, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows, though they’re willing to suggest other individuals get wet.
Sixty percent of Americans said they had “heard a lot” about the challenge. Far fewer said they had actually participated: Just 4 percent said they had donated money, and a mere 3 percent said they had dumped ice water on their heads. Another 2 percent said they’d done both.
Knowledge about ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, remains limited as well. Only 21 percent of Americans said they are “very familiar” with ALS, while another 49 percent said they’re “somewhat familiar.” Twenty percent were “not very familiar” with the disease, and 10 percent were “not at all familiar.”
According to the ALS Association, as many as 30,000 Americans have the progressive neurodegenerative disease at any given time. New cases are diagnosed at a rate of about 15 a day.
Recently, the ice bucket challenge has been criticized by some observers as frivolous if the real point is to raise money for research. After all, by the terms of the challenge, dumping cold water on your head is a way out of donating.
But the survey shows most Americans aren’t buying the bad rap. Sixty-one percent said the ice bucket challenge is “a fun and effective way to raise money and awareness of ALS,” while only 28 percent said that “it’s silly and it would be better if people just donated money.”
Many public figures have posted videos of their cold showers already. Others face limits on their participation. Members of the House of Representatives and the military have been warned that government rules prohibit the use of official resources to promote or references to current military service in ice bucket videos. High-profile State Department diplomats have been barred from participating.
Those rules don’t bar us, however, from asking Americans which politicians they’d most like to see doused with ice cold water.
Asked to pick from a list of potential 2016 presidential candidates who they’d most like to see take the ice bucket challenge, Americans made former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the runaway winner, with 51 percent choosing her. Sixteen percent opted for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), 15 percent for Vice President Joe Biden, 8 percent for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), 6 percent for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), and 5 percent for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Support for Clinton didn’t vary much along party lines, though the motives may have differed widely. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 46 percent of Democrats chose Clinton as the potential candidate they’d most like to see dump freezing water over her head.
Asked separately to pick a world leader for an international edition of the challenge, a 35 percent plurality of Americans rallied behind President Barack Obama, including 34 percent of both Democrats and Republicans. Unfortunately for them, Obama hasalready declined to dump ice water on his head, opting instead to give money.
Second and third place went to the leaders of countries with which the U.S. already suffers icy relations: North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, with 24 percent, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, with 19 percent. Queen Elizabeth II was fourth with 17 percent, narrowly missing a challenge from America, since three nominations are the usual limit. (Both Putin and the queen have been challenged by others, though neither has responded.)
Germany’s Angela Merkel and Cuba’s Raul Castro took just 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively, in the HuffPost poll.