Barack Obama ended his presidency having granted clemency to more people convicted of federal crimes than any chief executive in 64 years. But he also received far more requests for clemency than any U.S. president on record, largely as a result of an initiative set up by his administration to shorten prison terms for nonviolent federal inmates convicted of drug crimes.
Overall, Obama granted clemency to 1,927 individuals, a figure that includes 1,715 commutations and 212 pardons. That’s the highest total for any president since Harry S. Truman, who granted clemency 2,044 times – including 1,913 pardons, 118 commutations and 13 remissions – during his nearly eight years in office, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Department of Justice statistics.
The U.S. Constitution famously prohibits any religious test or requirement for public office. Still, almost all of the nation’s presidents have been Christians and many have been Episcopalians or Presbyterians, with most of the rest belonging to other prominent Protestant denominations.
The nation’s new president, Donald Trump, certainly fits this pattern. Trump is the nation’s ninth chief executive to be affiliated with a Presbyterian church. Presbyterianism has its roots in England and Scotland and has been active in North America since the 17th century. Read More →
Nearly 26,000 refugees entered the U.S. from October to December 2016, close to the quarterly average number of refugees needed to meet the Obama administration’s target of 110,000 refugee admissions in fiscal year 2017, according to data from the U.S. State Department’s Refugee Processing Center.
The 2017 annual ceiling – the highest since 1995 – is significantly higher than last year’s ceiling of 85,000 refugee admissions. Administration officials said they wanted to increase refugee admissions to the U.S. due to the growing number of people displaced by conflicts around the world. In the first quarter of fiscal 2017 (October to December 2016), almost twice as many refugees have entered the U.S. as in the first quarter of the year before, when nearly 14,000 refugees entered the country. Read More →
It has been a tumultuous 10 weeks since Donald Trump won his stunning election victory, and on Friday he will be inaugurated as the nation’s 45th president. Here are six important findings from our U.S. political surveys since the election.
1Trump remains historically unpopular. Trump ended the 2016 campaign with the worst favorability ratings in history, according to Gallup. Today, public views of how he has handled his transition to the White House are the lowest for any president dating back to George H.W. Bush.
Just 39% approve of the job Trump has done in explaining his plans and policies, while 41% approve of his high-level appointments, according to a Pew Research Center national survey, conducted Jan. 4-9 among 1,502 adults. These opinions have changed little since December.
In January 2009, just before Barack Obama’s inauguration, 70% approved of the job he had done explaining his plans and policies for the future and 66% said they approved of his Cabinet selections. Read More →
The trappings of religion have long been part of U.S. presidential inaugurations. Amid the secular pomp that heralds the start of a presidency are prayer services, an invocation and benediction, and a traditional (if extraconstitutional) mention of God in the presidential oath of office.
As the country prepares for the inauguration of its 45th president, Donald Trump, here are six facts about faith and Inauguration Day events:
1Trump, a Presbyterian, plans to attend a private pre-inaugural prayer service with his family at St. John’s Episcopal Church, located a block from the White House. The pre-inaugural morning service is a tradition of sorts for St. John’s, which hosted similar events before the swearings-in of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The church, founded in 1815, claims that every sitting president since James Madison (who served from 1809 to 1817 as the fourth president) has attended a service there. Read More →
Five of the 15 people Trump has nominated to be Cabinet secretaries have spent all or nearly all their careers in the business world, with no significant public office or senior military service on their résumés. That would be more businesspeople with no public-sector experience than have ever served in the Cabinet at any one time, according to a review and analysis by the Pew Research Center.
Before Trump, Ronald Reagan set the mark for bringing the most career businesspeople into the Cabinet. Four of Reagan’s initial 13 department heads in his first term were corporate executives. Read More →
The principle of gender equality is one that has taken root in many nations around the world. In a 2015 survey of 38 nations, majorities in all but one country (Burkina Faso) said it is somewhat or very important that women have the same rights as men in their society. And a median of 65% worldwide said these equal rights are very important.
This sentiment was strongest in North America, Europe and Latin America. In 2015, roughly nine-in-ten or more in the U.S. (91%) and Canada (94%) said gender equality was very important. A median of 86% in Europe and 80% in Latin America held the same view. Read More →
Some world leaders begin their tenures with high favorability ratings – only to see their popularity fall over time. But, in the U.S., Pope Francis remains as popular as ever, with seven-in-ten Americans saying their opinion of the pontiff is “very” or “mostly” favorable, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
When Francis began his papacy in March of 2013, 57% of Americans held a favorable view of him, while 14% held an unfavorable view and 29% couldn’t give him a rating. Now, seven-in-ten Americans express a favorable view of Francis, while 19% express an unfavorable opinion and just 11% say they don’t know enough to be able to rate the pontiff. Read More →
Interest in Trump’s inaugural is lower than for Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, when two-thirds of Americans (67%) said they were planning to watch. It is also lower than for Bill Clinton’s first inaugural in 1993, when 57% said they intended to watch. (The question was not asked when George W. Bush took office in 2001.)
There is a wide partisan gap over plans to watch the inauguration, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, conducted Jan. 4-9 among 1,502 adults. About seven-in-ten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (69%) say they will watch the event, compared with just 30% of Democrats and Democratic leaners.
In his first address to a joint session of Congress in February 2009, President Barack Obama said that, by 2020, America should “once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.” The White House and U.S. Department of Education indicated that the president’s goal would be met if 60% of 25- to 34-year-olds had completed at least an associate degree by 2020.
Based on the conventional statistics used to gauge educational attainment, the nation has made some progress toward this 2020 goal during the Obama years. In March 2009, 41% of 25- to 34-year-olds had completed at least an associate degree. By March 2016, 48% of young adults had done so.
Still, as Obama’s time in office nears its end, the U.S. remains 12 percentage points short of the goal. More progress will need to be made over the next four years than has been made over the past seven if the 2020 goal is to be reached. Read More →