Mar 8, 2016 1:30 pm

So far, turnout in this year’s primaries rivals 2008 record

This year’s presidential nominating season has upended conventional political wisdom in any number of ways – from the dominance of Donald Trump on the GOP side to the surprisingly tough battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side. The keenly contested races also are driving record turnout among Republicans and higher than usual turnout among Democrats.

After long decline, primary turnout reboundsThrough the first 12 primaries of 2016, combined Republican turnout has been 17.3% of eligible voters – the highest of any year since at least 1980. Democratic turnout so far is 11.7% – the highest since 1992, with the notable exception of the extraordinarily high turnout in 2008. (Those figures may change, of course, depending on how the rest of the campaign plays out; history suggests that once one party’s nomination is locked up, turnout in subsequent contests tends to fall off.)

Turnout in presidential primaries varies considerably among states, and typically is lower in years when an incumbent faces no serious challenge for renomination. But looking at overall turnout rates since 1980, certain trends were clear: Combined major-party turnout fell from 25.7% in 1980 to 14.7% in 2004, before rebounding in 2008. Much of that was due to declining turnout in Democratic primaries; GOP turnout, by contrast, was relatively stable from 1980 through 2012, averaging about 10% in years with contested nominations and dipping to 7% or lower in uncontested years.

But even in relatively high-turnout years such as 2008 – and, so far, 2016 – primaries attract far fewer voters than general elections, even though (barring a contested convention) they determine whom voters get to choose from come November. In 2012, for instance, 129.1 million Americans, or 53.6% of the estimated voting-age population, cast ballots in the presidential election, versus fewer than 28 million in that year’s primaries. In 2008, 131.4 million people (56.9% of the estimated voting-age population) voted for president in the general election, more than twice the “record” number of primary voters that year. Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Elections and Campaigns

Mar 8, 2016 12:58 pm

In Israel, Jews are united by homeland but divided into very different groups

Few communities, even small ones, are culturally or socially monolithic. That is the case with Israeli Jews: There are only about 6 million Jews living in Israel, but there are major religious, social and political chasms that divide Jews within the borders of this small nation.

Breakdown of Jews in IsraelA new Pew Research Center survey finds that nearly all Israeli Jews self-identify with one of four subgroups: Haredi (“ultra-Orthodox”), Dati (“religious”), Masorti (“traditional”) and Hiloni (“secular”). Beyond differences in religious belief and practice, these groups inhabit largely distinct social worlds characterized by their own lifestyles and politics. Following is a short profile of each of these four major religious groups, based on the ways Israeli Jews in the new survey describe themselves:

Haredim are the most religiously devout group in Israel, with 96% saying religion is very important in their lives, compared with 30% of all Israeli Jews. The word “Haredi” literally translates to “trembling” or “fearing God,” and most Haredim live their lives secluded from the rest of society. They have few close friends outside their own group, and they generally oppose intermarriage with other Jewish subgroups. Haredim tend to dress more conservatively, often including large black kippas and shtreimel or fedora hats for men and wigs or other head coverings for women. Haredi men are much more likely to attend religious educational institutions (yeshivas), which also has traditionally exempted them from the mandatory military requirements that other Israeli citizens face – something that has been a recent topic of controversy in Israeli politics. Fully 83% of Haredim favor keeping these exemptions, but less than half of all other Jewish subgroups agree. Haredim are more ambivalent about the state of Israel than other Jews in some ways, because some have long felt there should not have been the establishment of a formal Jewish state before the arrival of the Messiah. For example, Haredim are far less likely than other Israeli Jews to identify as Zionists.  Read More

Topics: Jews and Judaism, Middle East and North Africa, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Mar 8, 2016 12:00 pm

Strong global support for gender equality, especially among women

Globally, religious freedom, gender equality get highest supportToday, on International Women’s Day, people around the world are celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Gender equality and women’s empowerment is one of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. And gender equality is among the most widely accepted democratic principles around the world, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey.

Majorities in 37 of the 38 countries surveyed say that gender equality is at least somewhat important (Burkina Faso is the exception). And a global median of 65% believe it is very important that women have the same rights as men, ranking second only to support for religious freedom among the six democratic values tested. Gender equality ranks above support for the democratic principles of competitive elections, free speech, a free press and internet freedom. Read More

Topics: Gender

Mar 8, 2016 6:00 am

7 key findings about religion and politics in Israel

For a small country, Israel holds a place of great importance for three of the world’s major religious groups. The modern Jewish state is not only the “Promised Land” for Jews, but the only country in the world where they form a majority of the population. For Christians, Israel is the “Holy Land,” because it is the place where Jesus’ life and death unfolded. And, for Muslims, Jerusalem is the place where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

Although Israel’s religious significance dates to ancient times, the country still receives frequent international attention due in large part to near-constant religious, ethnic and political conflicts. As part of its effort to better understand religion around the world, Pew Research Center has conducted a comprehensive study of religion in Israel, where there are major divisions not only between Jews and Arabs, but also among the major subgroups of Israeli Jews.

Here are several of the key findings from that report, which is based on an extensive survey of more than 5,000 Israelis, conducted in late 2014 and early 2015: Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Jews and Judaism, Middle East and North Africa, Muslims and Islam, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Mar 4, 2016 11:46 am

Half of those who aren’t learning about the election feel their vote doesn’t matter

Those not learning about the presidential election have less confidence in the impact of their voteAbout one-in-ten Americans (9%) did not learn about this year’s presidential election in a given week from any of 11 types of sources asked about in a January Pew Research Center survey. One striking trait of this group is their lack of faith in the impact of voting.

Half of this group thinks that their vote doesn’t really affect how the government runs things, notably higher than the 36% of those who learned about the election from at least one type of source.  Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Election News, Political Attitudes and Values

Mar 2, 2016 9:55 am

Women relatively rare in top positions of religious leadership

While many large religious organizations in the United States allow women to be ordained – and to hold leadership positions within the organization – few women have actually served at the very top.

Women in religious leadershipWe looked at nine major religious organizations in the U.S. that both ordain women and allow them to hold top leadership slots. Of those organizations, four have had a woman in the top leadership position. And, so far, each of these four has had only one woman in the top position.

Currently, the American Baptist Churches USA and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are the only groups in our analysis with women in their top leadership positions. Susan Gillies is interim general secretary of the Baptist churches and Elizabeth Eaton is the presiding bishop of the Lutheran group. Read More

Topics: Gender, Religion and Society, Religious Leaders

Mar 2, 2016 7:00 am

UN peacekeeping at new highs after post-Cold War surge and decline

The rise of UN peacekeeping forces

The number of United Nations peacekeeping forces around the world has peaked in recent months, after falling off in the late 1990s. Today, more than 100,000 uniformed peacekeepers are deployed under 16 different missions – with the highest numbers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and South Sudan.

The first historical mission with a sizable military force was the UN Operation in the Congo (ONUC) in the early 1960s, which sought to restore order in the former Belgian colony that had fallen into violence. About 20,000 peacekeepers took part in the mission, during which then Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld died in a plane crash while flying into the region for diplomatic talks.

Peacekeeping activities were relatively infrequent for the next 25 years, but they spiked under the leadership of Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who died in mid-February. During Boutros-Ghali’s January 1992 to December 1996 tenure, the number of ongoing missions rose from 10 to 18 – including high-profile operations in the former Yugoslavia, Somalia and Rwanda – while the number of peacekeeping forces reached a then high of nearly 79,000 in 1994, according to data from the UN, the Stimson Center and the International Peace Institute.

Read More

Topics: International Governments and Institutions, International Organizations, International Threats and Allies, Wars and International Conflicts

Mar 1, 2016 10:55 am

Afro-Latino: A deeply rooted identity among U.S. Hispanics

Identity for U.S. Hispanics is multidimensional and multifaceted. For example, many Hispanics tie their identity to their ancestral countries of origin – Mexico, Cuba, Peru or the Dominican Republic. They may also look to their indigenous roots. Among the many ways Hispanics see their identity is their racial background.

A quarter of U.S. Hispanics identify as Afro-LatinoAfro-Latinos are one of these Latino identity groups. They are characterized by their diverse views of racial identity, reflecting the complex and varied nature of race and identity among Latinos. A Pew Research Center survey of Latino adults shows that one-quarter of all U.S. Latinos self-identify as Afro-Latino, Afro-Caribbean or of African descent with roots in Latin America. This is the first time a nationally representative survey in the U.S. has asked the Latino population directly whether they considered themselves Afro-Latino.

In the U.S., Latinos with Caribbean roots are more likely to identify as Afro-Latino or Afro-Caribbean than those with roots elsewhere (34% versus 22%, respectively). Those who identify as Afro-Latino are more concentrated on the East Coast and in the South than other Latinos (65% of Afro-Latinos live in these regions vs. 48% of other Latinos). They are also more likely than other Latinos to be foreign born (70% vs. 52%), less likely to have some college education (24% vs. 37%), and more likely to have lower family incomes. About six-in-ten Afro-Latinos reported family incomes below $30,000 in 2013, compared with about half of those who did not identify as Afro-Latino (62% vs. 47%). Read More

Topics: African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Hispanic/Latino Identity, Latin America, Race and Ethnicity

Mar 1, 2016 9:37 am

A divide between college, non-college Republicans

There also are clear differences between college-educated Republicans and those without college in their views on immigration, racial issues, politics and government, and business.
A supporter holds a sign as GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a Feb. 19 rally in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

The 2016 presidential campaign has exposed class and education differences among Republicans. In several primary contests to date, billionaire Donald Trump has fared better among white Republican voters who have not completed college than among white GOP college graduates.

A review of Pew Research Center surveys over the past several months finds that white Republican college graduates and white Republicans who do not have a degree generally agree on many political and policy issues. But there also are clear differences in their views on immigration, racial issues, politics and government, and business.

Based on political surveys in 2015, white non-Hispanics made up a large majority (80%) of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents; white non-Hispanics made up a smaller share (65%) of the public overall.

Among Republicans and Republican leaners, about a quarter (23%) are white college graduates. Nearly six-in-ten (57%) are whites who either have attended college but have not obtained a degree, or have not attended college.

Views of immigration, nation’s growing racial and ethnic diversity

Read More

Topics: Educational Attainment, Political Attitudes and Values, Race and Ethnicity, U.S. Political Parties

Feb 29, 2016 10:55 am

Super Tuesday showcases electorate’s growing racial, ethnic diversity

Race and ethnicity of Super Tuesday states

The U.S. electorate this year will be the country’s most diverse ever, and that is evident in several Super Tuesday states holding primaries or caucuses on March 1 in which blacks could have a significant impact.

In five of 12 Super Tuesday states, blacks account for at least 15% of the electorate, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of 2014 census data. Black eligible voters have the largest footprint in Georgia (31%) and Alabama (26%), while Virginia, Tennessee and Arkansas also have sizable black electorates. Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Demographics, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Hispanic/Latino Vote, Race and Ethnicity, Voter Demographics