Jul 5, 2016 7:00 am

5 facts about America’s political independents

The share of independents in the United States stands at its highest point in more than 75 years of public opinion polling. However, a substantial majority of independents have not fully declared their independence from the two major parties. Most say they “lean” toward a party. As we found in our recent study on political animosity, partisan leaners don’t have especially positive views of the party they lean toward, yet they feel very negatively about the opposing party. Nevertheless, partisan leaners share many of the political values of – and tend to vote similarly to – members of party they lean toward.

Here are five facts about political independents.

1Share of political independents has continued to growIndependents outnumber either Democrats or Republicans. A Pew Research Center analysis that examined partisan affiliation from 1992 to 2014 found that, in 2014, 39% of the public identified as independents, which was larger than the shares calling themselves Democrats (32%) or Republicans (23%). In 2004, roughly equal shares identified as Democrats (33%), independents (30%) and Republicans (29%).

However, most independents express a partisan leaning: In 2014, 17% of the public leaned toward the Democratic Party while 16% leaned toward the GOP; just 6% declined to lean toward a party. When the partisan leanings of independents were taken into account, 48% either identified as Democrats or leaned Democratic; 39% identified as Republicans or leaned Republican. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Political Attitudes and Values, Political Party Affiliation, U.S. Political Parties

Jul 1, 2016 10:45 am

How the public views the secret to America’s success

Compared with many other countries in the world, Americans stand out for their patriotism. But surveys show that Americans disagree over what’s behind their country’s success.

Pew Research Center’s political values survey has consistently found that overwhelming majorities agree with the statement, “I am very patriotic.” In 2012, 89% agreed with this statement; the share agreeing had never fallen below 85% in the survey’s 25-year history.

Why has U.S. been successful? Younger adults point to its ‘ability to change’But when asked whether the U.S. owed its success more to its “ability to change” or its “reliance on long-standing principles,” 51% of Americans attributed its success to the ability to change, while 43% pointed to reliance on long-standing principles.

The question was one of many measures about the country and its future we examined for our 2015 survey on government performance. For most Millennials and Gen Xers, the country’s success was associated with its ability to change. About six-in-ten Millennials (62%), ages 18 to 34 in 2015, and 51% of Gen Xers (then ages 35 to 50) said the U.S. had been successful because of its ability to change. Read More

Topics: Baby Boomers, Generations and Age, Millennials, Political Party Affiliation, Political Typology

Jul 1, 2016 9:00 am

Racial, gender wage gaps persist in U.S. despite some progress

White men out-earn black and Hispanic men and all groups of women

Large racial and gender wage gaps in the U.S. remain, even as they have narrowed in some cases over the years. Among full- and part-time workers in the U.S., blacks in 2015 earned just 75% as much as whites in median hourly earnings and women earned 83% as much as men.

Looking at gender, race and ethnicity combined, all groups, with the exception of Asian men, lag behind white men in terms of median hourly earnings, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. White men are often used in comparisons such as this because they are the largest demographic group in the workforce – 33% in 2015.

White men had higher hourly earnings than all except Asian men in 2015In 2015, average hourly wages for black and Hispanic men were $15 and $14, respectively, compared with $21 for white men. Only the hourly earnings of Asian men ($24) outpaced those of white men.

Among women across all races and ethnicities, hourly earnings lag behind those of white men and men in their own racial or ethnic group. But the hourly earnings of Asian and white women ($18 and $17, respectively) are higher than those of black and Hispanic women ($13 and $12, respectively) – and also higher than those of black and Hispanic men.

While the hourly earnings of white men continue to outpace those of women, all groups of women have made progress in narrowing this wage gap since 1980, reflecting at least in part a significant increase in the education levels and workforce experience of women over time.  Read More

Topics: Gender, Income Inequality, Race and Ethnicity, Work and Employment

Jun 30, 2016 12:03 pm

Electorally competitive counties have grown scarcer in recent decades

Swing counties clustered in upper Midwest and on outskirts of urban areas

When it comes to presidential elections, there are fewer competitive counties, and more counties in which Democrats or Republicans hold overwhelming vote advantages, than at any time in the past three decades or so – on-the-ground evidence of the heightened partisan polarization that characterizes U.S. politics today.

Politically competitive counties have become even less commonIn the 2012 election, there were only 275 counties – less than 9% of all counties and county-equivalents in the nation – in which fewer than 5 percentage points separated Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of county-level voting data. That was the fewest closely contested counties since Ronald Reagan’s landslide re-election in 1984.

Closely contested counties aren’t, as you might expect, predominantly in the “swing states” that get the lion’s share of attention from presidential campaigns and the media covering them. While there were notable concentrations in 2012 in the upper Midwest and along the Pacific coast, closely contested counties were scattered across the country; they could be found in both strongly Democratic states (such as California and New York) and largely Republican ones (such as Texas and North Dakota).  Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Elections and Campaigns, Political Polarization

Jun 30, 2016 7:00 am

Sharing and on-demand services attract a small but active group of ‘super users’

Few Americans are 'super users' of shared and on-demand services

From ride-hailing apps to shopping services, the sharing and on-demand economy has grown in the U.S., yet a relatively small minority of the public is incorporating shared and on-demand services deeply into their day-to-day lives. Still, some Americans are “super users”: 7% have used six or more services (out of a total of 11), according to a Pew Research Center study.

Some of the services measured in our survey – though by no means all – are relatively new, and their users exhibit common characteristics of early adopters: Nearly six-in-ten are college graduates, and roughly half have an annual household income of $75,000 or more (with one-in-five earning more than $150,000 annually). Just over one-third of these intensive users are ages 18 to 29, and the median age of this group is just 34.  Read More

Topics: Internet Activities, Social Media, Technology Adoption

Jun 29, 2016 11:55 am

Roughly half of Hispanics have experienced discrimination

About half of Hispanics in the U.S. (52%) say they have experienced discrimination or have been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity, according to a newly released Pew Research Center survey on race in America.

Hispanics' experience with discriminationHispanics’ experience with discrimination or being treated unfairly varies greatly by age. Among Hispanics ages 18 to 29, 65% say they have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment because of their race or ethnicity. By comparison, only 35% of Hispanics 50 and older say the same – a 30-percentage-point gap.

In addition, Hispanics born in the U.S. (62%) are more likely than immigrants (41%) to say they have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment. There are also differences by race. For example, 56% of nonwhite Hispanics say this has happened at some point in their lives, a higher share than that among white Hispanics (41%).

Hispanics are significantly less likely than blacks (71%) to say they have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment due to their race or ethnicity at some point in their lives, a gap that extends across most demographic subgroups, including gender and education. However, there is no difference among those ages 18 to 29. Some 65% of blacks in this age group, and an equal share of young Hispanics, say they have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment. Read More

Topics: Discrimination and Prejudice, Hispanic/Latino Identity, Race and Ethnicity

Jun 29, 2016 9:50 am

Key takeaways on international image of the U.S., Obama and presidential candidates

In President Barack Obama’s last year in office, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that views of the United States remain strongly favorable in key European and Asian nations. Compared with China, the U.S. is viewed more favorably and seen more often as the world’s leading economic power. Obama continues to receive high confidence ratings, and across the 15 countries surveyed, his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, gets considerably higher marks than Donald Trump.

Here are key takeaways from the report.

1U.S. vs. China favorabilityViews of the U.S. remain positive, especially when compared with China. Half or more in almost every nation surveyed have a favorable opinion of the U.S. The highest marks for the U.S. are found in Poland, Italy and Japan. About half or more of Indians and Chinese also have a positive view of America. The only country surveyed in which views are negative is Greece, where only 38% have a positive opinion of the U.S.

China receives lower ratings than the U.S. in virtually every country surveyed. This includes positive ratings of just 11% from neighboring Japan, and 31% from India. European countries also see China negatively, with no country expressing majority support except Greece, where 57% have a positive view of China. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Barack Obama, U.S. Global Image and Anti-Americanism, U.S. Political Figures

Jun 28, 2016 11:31 am

Blacks have made gains in U.S. political leadership, but gaps remain

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., flanked from left by Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Senate Judiciary ranking member Pat Leahy, D-Vt., Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., speaks during a news conference on criminal justice reform legislation in October 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks during a news conference on criminal justice reform legislation in October 2015. Booker and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., at far right, are the first two black U.S. senators to serve simultaneously. From left are Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking member Pat Leahy, D-Vt.; and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Barack Obama’s election to the highest political office in the land in 2008 was a proud moment for many Americans. It represented another advance in the slow but steady progress blacks have made in recent decades in gaining a greater foothold in political leadership, particularly in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the Cabinets of recent presidents. But they have lagged in the Senate and in governorships.

Many blacks view political representation as a potential catalyst for increased racial equality, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Roughly four-in-ten black adults (38%) say that working to get more black people elected to office would be a very effective tactic for groups striving to help blacks achieve equality. Whites are less likely to view this as an effective way to bring about increased racial equality (24% say it would be very effective).

Data from the past 50 years reveal the upward yet uneven trajectory of black political leadership in America. In 1965, there were no blacks in the U.S. Senate, nor were there any black governors. And only six members of the House of Representatives were black. By 2015, there was greater representation in some areas (44 House members were black) but little change in others (there were two black senators and one black governor). The share of blacks who have served in a presidential Cabinet, however, has been generally high – even above parity with the population – under administrations in the past two decades.

Read More

Topics: African Americans, Congress, State and Local Government, U.S. Political Figures

Jun 28, 2016 7:00 am

Religious restrictions among the world’s most populous countries

Levels of religious restrictions and hostilities among the world’s 25 most populous countries — where more than 5 billion of the globe’s roughly 7.5 billion people live — vary tremendously, from some of the lowest in the world (Japan) to among the very highest (Egypt).

Religious Restrictions Worldwide 2007-2014In addition to Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey had some of the highest levels of religious restrictions, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center that uses 2014 data (the most recent year for which data were available). In these countries, both the government and society at large imposed numerous limits on religious beliefs and practices.

In Egypt, for example, there were several sectarian attacks during 2014. In March of that year, a Christian woman was attacked by a group of Muslim Brotherhood supporters when they saw a crucifix in her car. According to reports, the woman was pulled by her hair into the street, beaten and killed. And in Russia, the government passed a new law limiting activity at houses of worship. The law imposes strict new reporting requirements for religious groups seeking to organize events and ceremonies in public spaces, according to the U.S. Department of State’s annual International Religious Freedom report. Read More

Topics: Religion and Government, Religion and Society, Restrictions on Religion

Jun 27, 2016 11:00 am

5 key takeaways about views of race and inequality in America

A new Pew Research Center survey finds profound differences between black and white Americans in how they view the current state of race relations and racial equality and in the ways they experience day-to-day life.

Here are five key takeaways from the new report on race in America:

1Black and white Americans differ widely in views on race relationsWhites and blacks are split over the current state of race relations and what progress Obama has made on the issue. About six-in-ten blacks (61%) say race relations are generally bad, while about equal shares of whites say race relations are good as say they’re bad. Overall views on race relations are more positive now than they were a year ago, following the unrest in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died while in police custody. Even so, the public’s views of race relations are more negative now than they have been for much of the 2000s.

Following the election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first black president in 2008, many voters were optimistic that his election would lead to better race relations. Today, about a third of Americans (34%) say Obama has made progress on improving race relations, while about three-in-ten (28%) say he has tried but failed to make progress. A quarter say the president has made race relations worse and 8% say he has not addressed race relations. Blacks are far more likely than whites or Hispanics to say Obama has made progress on race relations (51% vs. 28% and 38%, respectively). Among whites, Republicans are particularly likely to say the president has made race relations worse: 63% of white Republicans say this is the case. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: African Americans, Race and Ethnicity, Socioeconomic Class