Nov 7, 2016 1:32 pm

America’s political divisions in 5 charts

A presidential campaign season that began early last year reaches its finale on Tuesday, as tens of millions of Americans go to their polling places to vote. As Election Day unfolds, here are five charts that highlight how politically polarized the nation has become — and how most Americans expect it to remain that way, regardless of who wins.

1Even before the current campaign began, the American public had grown more ideologically polarized along partisan lines, as Pew Research Center documented in a major study. As of 2015, 53% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents had political values that were mostly or consistently conservative, up from 31% in 2004. While Republicans have shifted to the right, Democrats have shifted to the left: In 2015, 60% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents had values that were mostly or consistently liberal, compared with 49% in 2004 and just 30% in 1994. In addition to ideological polarization, partisan animosity also increased substantially during this period.

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Category: 5 Facts

Topics: 2016 Election, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Party Affiliation, Political Polarization, U.S. Political Parties

Nov 7, 2016 7:01 am

Social media causes some users to rethink their views on an issue

Politics on social media – as in real life – isn’t always pretty. In an election season marked by partisan animosity, a recent Pew Research Center report found that many social media users describe their political encounters online as stressful and frustrating, and nearly four-in-ten have taken steps to block or minimize the political content they see from other users.

But despite the downsides, exposure to the range of new ideas and viewpoints that many social media users encounter can occasionally cause people to change their minds about political issues or candidates.

Liberal Democrats more likely to say they've modified views on an issue because of social mediaOverall, 20% of social media users say they’ve modified their stance on a social or political issue because of material they saw on social media, and 17% say social media has helped to change their views about a specific political candidate. Among social media users, Democrats – and liberal Democrats in particular – are a bit more likely than Republicans to say they have ever modified their views on a social or political issue, or on a particular political candidate, because of something they saw on social media. (Democrats and Republicans include independents and nonpartisans who “lean” toward these parties.)

In addition to asking whether they had changed their minds in this way due to social media content, our survey also asked respondents to tell us – in their own words – about a recent time this happened to them. And when we coded their answers, we found a number of distinct themes that emerged in the issues that came to mind.  Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Issue Priorities, Social Media

Nov 5, 2016 8:28 am

A gender gap in views of Hillary Clinton, even among her supporters

Hillary Clinton is hoping to make history on Tuesday by being elected the nation’s first woman president. While the impact of Clinton’s gender on her candidacy is viewed very differently by her supporters and voters who back Donald Trump, there also is a gender gap among Clinton’s supporters.

Half of Clinton supporters think she is being held to a higher standard than past presidential candidates because she is a woman; just 11% of Trump supporters say the same, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Oct. 20-25.

But women who back Clinton are far more likely than her male supporters to say she is being held to a higher standard. A majority of women who back Clinton (57%) express this view, compared with 34% who say her gender is not a factor.

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Topics: 2016 Election, Gender, Generations and Age, Political Attitudes and Values, U.S. Political Figures, Voting Issues

Nov 4, 2016 12:03 pm

Majorities of women, men say Trump has no respect for women

As the 2016 election enters its final days, there are substantial differences in the level of respect voters think Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have for different groups in American society, and some of the widest gaps are on women, blacks and Hispanics.

About three-quarters of registered voters (76%) say Clinton has a great deal or fair amount of respect for women, while just half as many (38%) say this about Trump, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Oct. 20-25. A majority of voters (60%) say Trump has little or no respect for women, including 36% who say he has no respect at all for women.

Roughly equal shares of women (62%) and men (58%) say Trump has little or no respect for women, but women are far more likely to say he has no respect at all: 43% say this, compared with 29% of men. There are no significant gender differences in perceptions of Clinton’s respect for women.

Both Clinton and Trump are seen by majorities of voters as having a great deal or fair amount of respect for men, but larger shares say this about Trump (82% for Trump, 65% for Clinton).  Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Demographics, Race and Ethnicity, Voter Demographics, Voting Issues

Nov 4, 2016 10:29 am

The most and least educated U.S. religious groups

Attainment of a four-year college degree in the United States, often regarded as a key asset for economic success, varies by race and gender. But the share of people completing a college education also differs by religion, with members of some faith groups much more educated, on average, than others.

By far, Hindus and Unitarian Universalists have among the largest share of those with a college degree – 77% and 67% respectively. Roughly six-in-ten Jews (59%) have college degrees, as do similar shares in both the Anglican church (59%) and the Episcopal Church (56%).

These groups are among the top of a list of 30 U.S. religious groups ranked by educational attainment based on data from our 2014 Religious Landscape StudyRead More

Topics: College, Education, Income, Religious Affiliation

Nov 3, 2016 2:31 pm

Women drive increase in Democratic support for legal abortion

Public support for legal abortion, while little changed from earlier this year, is as high as it has been in two decades. And the share of Democrats saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases has risen since earlier this year – primarily driven by a striking rise in support among Democratic women.

A majority of the public says abortion should be legal in all or most cases (59%), while 37% say abortion should be illegal in at least most cases, according to a Pew Research Center survey released last week. Support for legal abortion has fluctuated in recent years, but is at its highest level since 1995.

Most Republicans continue to be opposed to legal abortion, and their views have remained relatively stable in recent years. Currently, 62% of Republicans say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, while 34% think it should be legal in at least most cases.

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Topics: Abortion, Gender, Political Issue Priorities, Political Party Affiliation, Political Polarization, U.S. Political Parties

Nov 3, 2016 2:15 pm

5 facts about illegal immigration in the U.S.

The number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. has stabilized in recent years after decades of rapid growth. But the origin countries of unauthorized immigrants have shifted, with the number from Mexico declining since 2009 and the number from elsewhere rising, according to the latest Pew Research Center estimates.

Here are five facts about the unauthorized immigrant population in the U.S.

1There were 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2014, a total unchanged from 2009 and accounting for 3.5% of the nation’s population. The number of unauthorized immigrants peaked in 2007 at 12.2 million, when this group was 4% of the U.S. population.

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Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration, Immigration Trends, Migration, Unauthorized Immigration

Nov 2, 2016 3:45 pm

Italy on track to surpass Greece in refugee arrivals for 2016

With nearly 160,000 arrivals so far in 2016, Italy has received almost the same number of refugees as Greece this year, and by year’s end it may surpass Greece as Europe’s new focal point for refugee flows, according to recent statistics from the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees.

Italy only needs to receive about 10,000 more refugees by Dec. 31 to overtake Greece in number of refugee arrivals in 2016. Already, Italy has received more refugees than it did in all of 2015 (153,842) and is quickly approaching its 2014 refugee total (170,100).

In contrast with Italy, Europe’s overall refugee flows are declining. More than 1 million refugees arrived on Europe’s shores via Mediterranean routes in 2015. Thus far, about 334,000 refugees, or a third of 2015’s number, have arrived in 2016.  Read More

Topics: Europe, International Organizations, Middle East and North Africa, Migration, Syria, Wars and International Conflicts

Nov 2, 2016 2:06 pm

Just how does the general election exit poll work, anyway?

Terry and Mary Ann Williams fill out exit polls conducted by Edison Research after voting at the Bayleaf Volunteer Fire Department on November 6, 2012 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images
Terry and Mary Ann Williams fill out exit polls conducted by Edison Research after voting at the Bayleaf Volunteer Fire Department on Nov. 6, 2012, in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo: Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

As millions of Americans watch election results roll in on Tuesday, they’ll learn a lot more than whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will become the 45th president. They’ll be told such things as how college-educated Republican women in Florida voted, what issues drove voters to the polls in Ohio, and how many of Utah’s Mormons cast their ballots for independent candidate Evan McMullin.

The source for those sorts of detailed analyses of the electorate is Edison Research. The Somerville, New Jersey-based firm has conducted exit polls for the National Election Pool (a consortium of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox and The Associated Press) since 2003 – originally in conjunction with Mitofsky International, and since 2006 on its own. But just how does Edison do it?

Joe Lenski, Edison’s co-founder and executive vice president, said the firm will interview voters as they leave the polls at nearly 1,000 locations (a random stratified probability sample of the more than 110,000 physical polling places across the country). And since Edison expects between 35% and 40% of the vote to be cast before Election Day, it also is conducting a phone survey of early and absentee/mail voters, a process that began earlier this week.  Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Polling, Research Methods, Voter Participation

Nov 2, 2016 7:00 am

How Republicans see the GOP on the eve of the 2016 election

The 2016 campaign has raised major questions among Republican lawmakers and senior party officials about the future of the GOP. But how do Republican voters feel about their party? Most Republicans acknowledge the GOP is divided heading into next week’s presidential election, but more view their party favorably than did so as recently as six months ago.

Here are five facts about how Republicans feel about the GOP:

170% of Republicans think their party is divided. In a survey released last week, Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say their party is “mostly divided in its views on issues and plans for the future.” Just 27% say it is mostly united.

The belief that the GOP is divided spans all groups of Republican voters. However, those who supported Donald Trump in the GOP primaries (61%) are less likely to view the party as divided than voters who backed other Republican candidates (76%).

By contrast, 67% of Democrats said their party was mostly united, while just 31% said it was mostly divided.  Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Political Party Affiliation, Political Polarization, Presidential Approval, U.S. Political Parties