Nov 15, 2018 7:00 am

How Americans view some of the voting policies approved at the ballot box

Early voters cast their ballots on Oct. 25 at a community center in Potomac, Maryland. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

There was more at stake in this year’s elections than U.S. congressional seats or governorships. In many states, Americans had a chance to weigh in on ballot measures about the voting process itself, including same-day and automatic voter registration, requiring photo IDs to vote, restoring convicted felons’ voting rights and voting absentee without needing a reason. Broadly, majorities of Americans supported the idea of several of these initiatives in a Pew Research Center survey conducted about a month before the election, although there were notable partisan divides on many of them.

Here is what our survey found about Americans’ opinions on the ideas behind some of the voting-related policies that voters approved during midterm elections last week.

Voter registration

Maryland midterm voters approved a measure allowing same-day voter registration in the future. As of March this year, 17 states plus the District of Columbia already had same-day registration policies in place, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). (In the past, Maryland had allowed same-day registration for early voting periods.)

Overall, about two-thirds (64%) of Americans strongly or somewhat favored the idea of same-day voter registration in our pre-election survey, but partisans were divided. Roughly eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (78%) favored allowing people to register on Election Day, compared with 49% of Republicans and Republican leaners.

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Topics: Voter Participation, Elections and Campaigns, Democracy, Voter Preferences, 2018 Election

Nov 14, 2018 3:31 pm

America’s polarized views of Trump follow years of growing political partisanship

From the very start of Donald Trump’s presidency, Americans have been divided along partisan lines in their views of him. But partisan divisions in U.S. politics are certainly nothing new.

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Topics: Political Polarization, U.S. Political Figures, U.S. Political Parties, Donald Trump

Nov 13, 2018 3:00 pm

Despite recent violence, Chicago is far from the U.S. ‘murder capital’

No major American city has come close to Chicago’s soaring murder total in the past few years. The Windy City recorded nearly 1,900 homicides between 2015 and 2017, a period during which the next-closest city, Baltimore, registered around 1,000.

However, when adjusting for its large population, Chicago is by no means the nation’s “murder capital.” For decades, in fact, it has had fewer murders per capita than many other U.S. cities with smaller populations, according to FBI data going back to 1985.

Among big U.S. cities, St. Louis has had the nation's highest murder rate since 2014St. Louis led the nation with 66.1 murders per 100,000 people in 2017, according to the FBI’s most recent yearly statistics, released in September. It was followed by Baltimore (55.8 per 100,000), Detroit (39.8 per 100,000), New Orleans (39.5 per 100,000) and Baton Rouge, Louisiana (38.3 per 100,000).

For its part, Chicago ranked 14th among cities with at least 100,000 people in 2017. Its 653 murders, measured against a population of more than 2.7 million, translated to a murder rate of 24.1 homicides per 100,000. That was less than half the rate in St. Louis and Baltimore and below the rates of cities including Cleveland; Memphis, Tennessee; and Newark, New Jersey.

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Topics: Criminal Justice, Violence and Society, North America

Nov 12, 2018 6:52 am

Russians, Indians, Germans especially likely to say their countries are more globally important

The perception of which countries wield the most influence on the international stage can be in the eye of the beholder. People around the world largely agree that China has become more important over the past 10 years and are more mixed about the roles that Russia, India, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States play. But people in Russia, India and Germany stand out for being much more likely to say their country is playing a bigger role in world affairs than are people in other countries, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

Russians, Indians and Germans see their country playing a more important role than people in other countriesFor example, 72% of Russians say their country is playing a more important role in the world today than it did a decade ago. This compares with a median of 41% across the 25 other countries surveyed. Indians and Germans are similarly rosy-eyed about their own countries, while global evaluations are much more circumscribed.

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Topics: Western Europe, Russia, Global Balance of Power, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Country Image

Nov 9, 2018 3:33 pm

Key takeaways about Latino voters in the 2018 midterm elections

Destiny Martinez, 18, voted for the first time on Oct. 24 at an early voting event for students in Norwalk, California. (Mindy Schauer/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

Latinos make up an increasing share of the U.S. electorate. A record 29 million Latinos were eligible to vote in this year’s midterm elections, accounting for 12.8% of all eligible voters, a new high. While it’s too soon to know how many voted and their turnout rate, Latinos made up an estimated 11% of all voters nationwide on Election Day, nearly matching their share of the U.S. eligible voter population (U.S. citizens ages 18 and older). Here are key takeaways about Latino voters and the 2018 elections.

1Many more Latinos voted for Democrats than Republicans in 2018 U.S. congressional racesIn U.S. congressional races nationwide, an estimated 69% of Latinos voted for the Democratic candidate and 29% backed the Republican candidate, a more than two-to-one advantage for Democrats, according to National Election Pool exit poll data. These results largely reflect the party affiliation of Latinos. In a Pew Research Center pre-election survey, 62% of Latinos said they identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party compared with 27% who affiliated with the Republican Party. Among other racial and ethnic groups, a lower share of whites (44%) voted for Democrats in congressional races compared with blacks (90%) and Asians (77%). (Exit polls offer the first look at who voted in an election, a portrait that will be refined over time as more data, such as state voter files, become available.)

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Topics: Hispanic/Latino Vote, Voter Demographics, Voter Participation, Elections and Campaigns, Voter Preferences, 2018 Election

Nov 8, 2018 2:36 pm

Adult caregiving often seen as very meaningful by those who do it

Alantris Muhammad leaves her home in Chicago Heights, Illinois, with her mother, Dorris West. Muhammad has taken care of West since she was injured in a car accident, leaving her unable to walk or eat on her own. (Alyssa Schukar for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

About one-in-seven U.S. adults (15%) provide unpaid care of some kind to another adult, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And caregiving is often seen as a very meaningful activity for those providing care.

On a typical day, more than an hour of caregiving for adult caregiversAdult caregivers are people who report providing any adult care on the prior day, as measured by the BLS’s American Time Use Survey, which tracks how Americans spend their time in a given day. Caregiving includes providing hands-on assistance with tasks such as dressing, eating and bathing, or even medical care, as well as providing transportation to appointments or helping to maintain the homes or finances of those who receive care. Caregiving can be provided to any adult who needs it – be it a relative, friend or neighbor – either due to age-related limitations or special cognitive or medical needs. (See additional tables for a detailed list of caregiving activities included in this analysis.)

On average, adult caregivers in the United States spend almost an hour and 20 minutes a day providing unpaid assistance, but there is wide variation. About one-in-five caregivers (22%) spend less than 20 minutes a day on caregiving, while at the other end of the spectrum, 11% spend three hours or more a day providing care.

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Topics: Family Roles, Family and Relationships, Household and Family Structure

Nov 8, 2018 10:01 am

The 2018 midterm vote: Divisions by race, gender, education

Voters at Franklin Elementary School in Kent, Ohio, on Nov. 6. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

The stark demographic and educational divisions that have come to define American politics were clearly evident in voting preferences in the 2018 congressional elections.

In 2018 vote, sizable gender, race and education dividesThere were wide differences in voting preferences between men and women, whites and nonwhites, as well as people with more and less educational attainment.

Nationally, voters favored Democratic candidates for Congress over Republican candidates by a margin of about 7 percentage points, according to a preliminary estimate by The New York Times. (With votes still being tabulated in some states, this margin may change.) Democrats won a majority in the House of Representatives for the first time since 2010, while Republicans appear to have added to their majority in the Senate.

The gender gap in voting preference is not new, but it is at least as wide as at any point over the past two decades, according to exit polls by the National Election Pool, as reported by CNN. Women favored the Democratic candidate in their district by 19 percentage points (59% to 40%) while men voted for the Republican 51% to 47%. (The exit polls offer the first look at the electorate; the portrait will be refined over time as additional data, such as state voter files, become available).

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Topics: Voter Demographics, Voter Participation, Elections and Campaigns, Voter Preferences, 2018 Election

Nov 7, 2018 2:01 pm

How religious groups voted in the midterm elections

Voters in North Carolina cast their ballots. (Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images)

A preliminary analysis of the 2018 midterm elections finds considerable continuity in the voting patterns of several key religious groups. White evangelical or born-again Christians backed Republican candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives at about the same rate they did in 2014. Meanwhile, religiously unaffiliated voters (also known as religious “nones”) and Jewish voters once again backed Democratic candidates by large margins.

Three-quarters (75%) of white voters who describe themselves as evangelical or born-again Christians (a group that includes Protestants, Catholics and members of other faiths) voted for Republican House candidates in 2018, according to National Election Pool (NEP) exit poll data reported by NBC News. That is on par with the share who did so in midterm elections in 2014 (78%) and 2010 (77%).

In 2018 midterms, most white evangelical Christians continued to support Republican candidates; most religious 'nones' continued to back DemocratsAt the other end of the spectrum, seven-in-ten religious “nones” voted for the Democratic candidate in their congressional district, which is virtually identical to the share of religious “nones” who voted for Democratic candidates in 2014 and 2010. Roughly eight-in-ten Jewish voters (79%) cast their ballots for the Democrats, higher than the share who did so in 2014, but somewhat shy of 2006 levels. (Data on Jewish voters were not available in 2010.)

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Topics: Voter Participation, Elections and Campaigns, U.S. Political Parties, Religion and U.S. Politics, 2018 Election

Nov 7, 2018 12:30 pm

In 2016, emergency laws restricted religious freedoms of Muslims more than other groups

French police officers stand guard during an anti-terrorist operation in July 2016 in Argenteuil, in the northwestern suburbs of Paris. (Matthieu Alexandre/Getty Images)

Emergency laws entail the temporary suspension of normal judicial procedures and constitutional rights, typically in response to a national security threat. Depending on the circumstances, initial decrees can evolve into extended “states of emergency,” permitting governments to dramatically alter the protections normally extended to individuals and groups, including those defined by religion.

In 2016, seven countries – Turkey, Brunei, Ethiopia, France, Hungary, Niger and Tunisia – used emergency laws that restricted religion within their borders. While the official justifications for these measures varied, Pew Research Center’s latest annual religious restrictions study finds that across the seven countries, Muslims, more than any other religious group, were specifically targeted by law enforcement and security services acting in accordance with emergency laws. This fact, along with others, helped place five of these seven countries among the 105 nations, globally, where government restrictions on religion rose in 2016.

Religious restrictions, here, are defined in accordance with the Center’s annual Government Restrictions Index. The index is based on 20 indicators and uses a 10-point scale to rate countries as low, moderate, high or very high with regard to the overall level of religious restrictions.

Overall, government restrictions rose in 105 of the 198 countries the report examined, including in five of the seven countries that declared states of emergency. Additionally, the number of countries with “high” or “very high” levels of restrictions rose to 28% of the total in 2016, up from 25% in 2015.  Read More

Topics: Muslims and Islam, Religious Affiliation, Religion and Government, Restrictions on Religion

Nov 6, 2018 2:00 pm

Weekday elections set the U.S. apart from many other advanced democracies

A rally on Nov. 5 to get out the vote in St. Louis. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Many of the millions of Americans voting in Tuesday’s midterm elections will have to do so while working around the demands of their jobs – hitting their polling places before work, taking an extra-long lunch break or going afterward and hoping to make it before the polls close. As they stand in line, many of them may wonder why it is that the United States votes on a Tuesday, of all days. (To be fair, more than 38 million Americans already have voted early in person, by mail or by absentee ballot, according to a tally maintained by University of Florida political scientist Michael McDonald.)

The first law designating Election Day as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November was passed back in 1845. At the time, every state except South Carolina was choosing its presidential electors by popular vote, and had considerable flexibility in deciding when to hold its elections. But as transportation and communications links between the states improved, concern grew that later-voting states could be influenced by the results in earlier-voting ones. (As the Congressional Globe wrote, paraphrasing one congressman’s remarks, “The object of this bill was to guard against frauds in the elections of President and Vice President, by declaring that they shall all be held on the same day.”)

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Topics: Voter Participation, Elections and Campaigns, Voting Issues, Democracy, 2018 Election