Attitudes about marijuana have undergone a rapid shift in public opinion, paralleled by few other trends in the U.S. Our recent data, along with historical figures from Gallup and the General Social Survey, reveal how views have shifted about the drug over time. Earlier this year, our survey found that many more Americans now favor shifting the focus of the nation’s overall drug policy. Here are six key facts about public opinion and marijuana:
1Support for marijuana legalization is rapidly outpacing oppostion. A slim majority (52%) of Americans say the drug should be made legal, compared with 45% who want it to be illegal. Opinions have changed drastically since 1969, when Gallup first asked the question and found that just 12% favored legalizing marijuana use. Much of the change in opinion has occurred over the past few years — support rose 11 points between 2010 and 2013 (although it has remained unchanged in the past year). Separately, 76% in our February survey said people convicted of minor possession should not serve time in jail. Read More →
Category: 5 Facts
Americans and Europeans both have been dealing with disappointing recoveries for a while, but their attitudes, like their economies, now are moving in different directions. U.S. consumers’ expectations have risen over the past few months, after being more or less flat since late 2012. But European attitudes, which had grown steadily more optimistic since mid-2013, reversed this summer — perhaps a reflection of dimming prospects for the European economy.
These disparities are potentially significant since, after all, the U.S. and European economies don’t operate on separate planets. Indeed, some economists worry that overseas weakness could derail the five-year economic expansion in the U.S. As Wells Fargo senior economist Eugenio Aleman told The Wall Street Journal: “The U.S. for now is growing on its own, but it cannot grow on its own in the medium to long term. We will need some help from the rest of the world.”
Topics: World Economies
But a new Pew Research Center report on political polarization and media habits finds that a significant number of web-using adults get at least some of their news about government and politics from sources that they distrust – a concept that may seem puzzling.
Nearly two-in-ten (19%) respondents from our survey said they get news from a source (be it a cable news network, a news magazine or a news website) that they distrust. This figure, though, is more pronounced among conservatives. About a quarter of both those with consistently conservative (26%) and mostly conservative (25%) political views consume at least one source that they distrust, compared with just 14% of those with consistently liberal political views and 16% of those with mostly liberal views. Still, most respondents (78%) get news only from outlets they trust or ones they neither trust nor distrust. (Ideological consistency in this analysis is based on responses to 10 questions about a range of political values.) Read More →
Whether it’s to cover up a scandal or score a business contract, acts of bribery are common throughout the world.
We recently asked people in 44 countries how important certain attributes are for getting ahead in life (with 0 meaning “not important at all” and 10 meaning “very important”). While “giving bribes” ranks at the bottom compared with other factors (“having a good education” tops the list), several countries stand out for their scores when it comes to greasing the palm.
The countries where people are most likely to say bribes are important are China (with a 5.5 average rating on the 10-point scale), Jordan (5.0) and Russia (4.5); and those least likely to do so are Brazil (0.8), El Salvador (1.4) and Colombia (1.5). (The U.S. is near the low end of the scale with a 2.5 rating.) Read More →
Who will turn out to vote in November? A look at likely voters through the lens of the Political Typology
Earlier this year, we released our 6th political typology, which sorts American voters into eight distinct groups based on questions we ask the public about their shared values. Now that the midterm elections are nearly here, we were curious: How will these typology groups vote on Nov. 4 – or will they vote at all?
Our analysis found that three of the eight groups are far more likely to show up to vote than the rest. These groups are also those who are the most ideological, highly politically engaged and overwhelmingly partisan – two groups are on the right and one on the left.
This week marks Diwali, the annual Hindu festival of lights. In India and elsewhere, the joyous holiday – a major event that coincides with the new year on some calendars – is often marked by gifts of dried fruit and nuts and the lighting of fireworks, lamps and other lights.
In the U.S., seven-in-ten Indian Americans say they celebrate Diwali, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey of Asian Americans. This includes most Indian-American Hindus (95%) and nearly half of those who are not Hindus (45%).
That survey found that about half of Indian Americans (51%) identify as Hindus, while 5% identify as Sikhs and 2% as Jains (two other religious groups that also observe Diwali). Most of the rest are Christians (18%), Muslims (10%) or people unaffiliated with any religion (10%). Read More →
Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman with terminal brain cancer, has gone public with her plans to take her own life soon after Oct. 26, her husband’s birthday; she is using her story to make the case for more widespread laws allowing doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. Maynard moved to Oregon, one of five states that allow the practice, in order to obtain medication for the purpose of ending her life.
A report issued by the Institute of Medicine (part of the National Academy of Sciences) last month called for an overhaul of end-of-life care nationwide, including, for example, a greater emphasis on advance care planning and Medicare funding for home health services. A chairman of the committee that conducted the study told The New York Times that “the current system is geared towards doing more, more, more, and that system by definition is not necessarily consistent with what patients want.”
A Pew Research Center survey conducted last year found that two-thirds of Americans say there are circumstances in which a patient should be allowed to die, as opposed to doctors and nurses always doing everything possible to save the life of a patient. But U.S. adults are more divided about laws that allow doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, with 47% in favor of such laws and 49% opposed. Views on doctor-assisted suicide are little changed since 2005.
While there are sizable differences in opinion on this issue by racial and ethnic group, religious group and political ideology, there are, at most, modest differences among different age groups. Maynard’s generation is no more supportive of such laws than are older Americans: 45% of those ages 18-29 approve of assisted-suicide laws, while 54% oppose them.
As news about Ebola dominates the airwaves and permeates midterm campaigns, Americans are following the ongoing story at historically high rates. About half of U.S. adults (49%) followed Ebola news very closely last week, elevating the story to our list of most-followed events since 2010.
News interest in Ebola has grown substantially from when we first asked about the outbreak in early August. About one-in-four (26%) then said they were closely following news about the Ebola virus, which was limited to cases in Africa at the time.
In the past two years, the only news stories to exceed this level of attention were the Boston Marathon bombing (63%), the 2012 election (60%), the Newtown shooting (57%) and Hurricane Sandy (53%).
Looking at other dominant stories this year, 39% very closely followed news about missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March and 37% closely followed the beginning of airstrikes against ISIS in late September.
Topics: News Interest
Evidence of political polarization can be found in many aspects of American life. It’s not just about the public’s views on issues, but the way they use media (including social media) and talk about politics with other people, according to a new Pew Research Center data analysis drawn from a representative sample of online adults. While the most consistent liberals and conservatives both tend to drive broader political discussion, they do so with news and analyses drawn from very different segments of the media landscape.
Here are five key takeaways on polarization, media use and political conversation: Read More →
America’s widening ideological divisions are showing up in more and more aspects of American life — from how likely people are to vote to where they want to live and what they want their children taught. And, as the latest report in the Pew Research Center’s year-long series on polarization makes clear, politics heavily influences people’s media habits as well: Americans on either end of the ideological spectrum get their news from very different sources.
We asked Amy Mitchell, the center’s Director of Journalism Research, to discuss how the new report was put together. Read More →