PhotoWhat's a penny worth? Silly question, right?

Apparently it's worth quite a bit. That's really the only way you can explain the results of a new Harris Poll showing that most people who were asked think the penny should be kept around.

It’s long been suggested in some circles that the penny be abolished and that the nickel be used as our lowest denomination coin. There are a variety of reasons, ranging from the unused pile of them collecting in your car’s cup holder to the fact that at last report, they cost nearly twice as much to make as they’re worth.

But while opposition to abolishing the penny is softening (51%, versus 56% in 2008) and support for the idea is on the rise (29%, compared with 24%), the “nay’s” appear to have it for the time being.

Support not uniform

While majorities oppose dropping the penny from circulation, some groups are more likely than others to support the idea:

  • Men are roughly twice as likely as women to favor abolishing the penny (39% vs. 20%).
  • Regionally, support for getting rid of the penny is highest in the East and the West (34% each, vs. 27% in the Midwest and 23% in the South)
  • Liberals (34%) and Moderates (30%) are more likely than Conservatives (23%) to favor the idea.
  • Additionally, those with higher annual household incomes (peaking at 44% of those in households earning $100k+) are far more likely than those with lower incomes to favor the idea (with support lowest among those in households earning under $35k per year, at 19%). Those in $100k+ households are also at least twice as likely as any other income segment to express a preference for a dollar coin (22% vs. 11% or less for all other cohorts).

Dollar bills at issue

There have also been several attempts to replace the $1 bill with a coin, but eight in ten Americans (80%, vs. 76%) prefer it in paper form. As with the penny proposal, the idea of a dollar coin sits better with some groups than with others:

  • Men are more than twice as likely as women to indicate they’d prefer a dollar in coin form (19% vs. 7%).
  • Westerners (18%) are most likely to support the idea of a $1 coin (vs. 12% in the Midwest, 11% in the East and 10% in the South).
  • Urbanites (17%) are more likely than their Suburban (12%) or Rural (11%) counterparts to prefer a coin.

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