Feb 9, 2016 10:57 am

Global opinion varies widely on use of torture against suspected terrorists

U.S. more likely to say torture can be justifiedAround the world, public opinion is divided about whether government-sponsored torture can ever be justified as part of efforts to prevent terrorist attacks, according to a spring 2015 Pew Research Center survey of 38 nations. A median of 45% across the countries polled said they did not believe use of torture by their governments against suspected terrorists to try to gain information about possible attacks in their country could be justified. A median of 40% thought the use of torture could be justified in such cases.

Looking at public opinion across major regions, the view that torture may be justified is most common in sub-Saharan Africa, where a median of 55% hold this view; it is least common in Latin America (a median of 25%).

The U.S. public is among the most likely to consider torture justifiable: 58% say this, while only 37% disagree. There are only five nations in the survey where larger shares of the public believe torture against suspected terrorists can be justified: Uganda (78%), Lebanon (72%), Israel (62%), Kenya (62%) and Nigeria (61%). Read More

Topics: International Governments and Institutions, Terrorism, Wars and International Conflicts

Feb 4, 2016 11:50 am

What Americans say it takes to be middle class

Secure job, ability to save seen as top requirements to be middle classWhat does it take to be considered part of the middle class these days? The vast majority of American adults agree that a secure job and the ability to save money for the future are essential. The public is more evenly split when it comes to owning a home and having the time and money to travel for vacation. But one thing is now less likely to be seen as a requirement: a college education.

While the economic gap between college graduates and those with a high school education or less has never been greater, the share of adults saying a college education is necessary to be middle class has actually fallen since 2012, from 37% to 30%, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Dec. 8-13, 2015. Read More

Topics: College, Economics and Personal Finances, Education, Educational Attainment, Middle Class, Socioeconomic Class

Feb 4, 2016 10:30 am

Contested presidential conventions, and why parties try to avoid them

Delegates crowd down the center aisle at the 1948 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia during a demonstration for Gov. Thomas E. Dewey. Dewey was the last Republican presidential candidate to be nominated in a multi-ballot contest; he won on the third ballot. Photo credit: AP photo
Delegates crowd down the center aisle at the 1948 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia during a demonstration for Gov. Thomas E. Dewey. Dewey was the last Republican presidential candidate to be nominated in a multi-ballot contest; he won on the third ballot. Photo credit: AP photo

Now that actual voting has started in the 2016 presidential campaign, there’s been more than the usual amount of chatter and speculation about whether this might be the year for a contested convention – particularly on the Republican side, given the large field of GOP candidates and the unpredictable nature of the contest so far.

Presidential candidates nominated after multiple ballots less likely to winA contested convention, for those who’ve never experienced one (which is to say, everyone under the age of 35 or 40), occurs when no candidate has amassed the majority of delegate votes needed to win his or her party’s nomination in advance of the convention. A candidate still might gather the delegates needed by the time balloting begins, in which case the nomination is settled on the first ballot. But should the first ballot not produce a nominee, most delegates become free to vote for whomever they wish, leading potentially to multiple ballots, horse-trading, smoke-filled rooms, favorite sons, dark horses and other colorful elements that have enlivened American political journalism, literature and theater.

Read More

Topics: Elections and Campaigns, U.S. Political Figures, U.S. Political Parties

Feb 3, 2016 2:00 pm

Homeland Security produces first estimate of foreign visitors to U.S. who overstay deadline to leave

Foreign visitor overstays by birth regionUnder pressure from Congress to improve tracking of foreign visitors, the Department of Homeland Security has produced its first partial estimate of those who overstay their permits to be in the U.S. Out of 45 million U.S. arrivals by air and sea whose tourist or business visas expired in fiscal 2015, the agency estimates that about 416,500 people were still in the country this year.

The government’s report was limited in scope and includes no reliable trend data that could shed light on whether overstays are growing or declining.  Read More

Topics: Federal Government, Immigration, Immigration Trends, Unauthorized Immigration

Feb 3, 2016 7:00 am

2016 electorate will be the most diverse in U.S. history

The U.S. electorate this year will be the country’s most racially and ethnically diverse ever. Nearly one-in-three eligible voters on Election Day (31%) will be Hispanic, black, Asian or another racial or ethnic minority, up from 29% in 2012. Much of this change is due to strong growth among Hispanic eligible voters, in particular U.S.-born youth.

An analysis of changes in the nation’s eligible voting population – U.S. citizens ages 18 and older – offers a preview of profound U.S. demographic shifts that are projected to continue for decades to come. While the nation’s 156 million non-Hispanic white eligible voters in 2016 far outnumber the 70 million eligible voters that are racial or ethnic minorities, their growth lags that of minority groups. As a result, the non-Hispanic white share of the electorate has fallen from 71% in 2012 to 69%.

Whites eligible to vote showed slowest growth in the electorate since 2012

There are 10.7 million more eligible voters today than there were in 2012. More than two-thirds of net growth in the U.S. electorate during this time has come from racial and ethnic minorities. Hispanics, blacks, Asians and other minorities had a net increase of 7.5 million eligible voters, compared with a net increase of 3.2 million among non-Hispanic white eligible voters. Read More

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

Jan 29, 2016 12:04 pm

More Americans using smartphones for getting directions, streaming TV

Americans increasingly use smartphones for more than voice calls, texting

Just as the internet has changed the way people communicate, work and learn, mobile technology has changed when, where and how consumers access information and entertainment. And smartphone use that goes beyond routine calls and text messages does not appear to be slowing, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted in July 2015. Read More

Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, Internet Activities, Mobile, Technology Adoption

Jan 28, 2016 3:51 pm

Contentious Republican debates lure many Democrats to tune in

Democrats much more likely to have watched debate of opposing partyWhile a majority of Americans have watched at least one of the debates for the 2016 presidential election, there are striking differences between parties when it comes to which side’s debates people are watching. Democratic debate watchers have in large numbers tuned in to the opposing party’s debates, something far less common among Republicans, according to new data from Pew Research Center.

Overall, Republicans are watching presidential debates at higher rates than both Democrats and independents (64%, compared with 53% of Democrats and 56% of independents). But among those who do watch debates, seven-in-ten Democrats who have seen at least one watched a Republican debate, compared with about half (49%) of Republicans who watched a Democratic debate.

Much of this cross-party viewing occurs among those who have watched multiple debates. Indeed, 89% of Democrats who watched more than one debate watched debates for both parties, much higher than the corresponding share of Republicans (59%). In contrast, about four-in-ten (41%) Republicans who viewed multiple debates only watched those for the Republican candidates, compared with a mere 8% of Democrats who watched only Democratic debates.

The interest of Democrats in the GOP debates may factor into which party’s contest is most-watched. Of the debates that have occurred thus far, the three most viewed debates were all debates for the Republican nomination.

This analysis is based on a representative survey of U.S. adults conducted Jan. 12-27, 2016, of 3,760 members of the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel, taken online by internet users and by mail among non-internet users. Margin of error is plus or minus 2.3%. Read the full methodology and topline results here.

Correction: A previous version of this post gave an incorrect start date for the survey cited. It was conducted Jan. 12-27, 2016.

Topics: 2016 Election, Election News, U.S. Political Parties

Jan 28, 2016 2:01 pm

Partisan divide grows over value of Washington experience

With the first 2016 nomination contests at hand, a new survey underscores the extent to which Republicans have come to place less value on a presidential candidate’s prior experience in office – especially experience as a Washington official.

More Republicans view lengthy Washington experience negativelyCurrently, 44% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they would be less likely to support a hypothetical presidential candidate who has been an elected official in Washington, D.C., for many years. Fewer than half as many Republicans (18%) say they would be more likely to support such a candidate, while 37% say extensive Washington experience would not matter.

By contrast, just 19% of Democrats and Democratic leaners view lengthy Washington experience as a negative trait for a candidate: 27% say they would be more likely to support such a candidate, and 53% say it would not be a factor. Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Elections and Campaigns, Political Attitudes and Values, U.S. Political Figures

Jan 28, 2016 9:55 am

Is Hillary Clinton religious? Republicans and Democrats have far different views

If Hillary Clinton ends up being the Democratic Party’s nominee for president, her politics won’t be the only thing many Republicans and Democrats disagree about during the coming campaign. The two parties have sharply different perspectives on whether Clinton is religious – as they do about Bernie Sanders and some of the Republican candidates. But what makes Clinton stand out is that views of her religiosity have changed significantly over the last nine years.

Democrats much more likely than Republicans to see Obama, Hillary Clinton as at least somewhat religiousAbout two-thirds (65%) of Americans who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party say they see Clinton as “very” or “somewhat” religious, compared with 27% who say she is “not too” or “not at all” religious. But among Republicans and Republican leaners, these figures are almost exactly reversed: 65% say she is not religious, while just 28% say she is at least somewhat religious, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Religion and U.S. Politics, U.S. Political Figures

Jan 28, 2016 7:00 am

Millions of young people in U.S. and EU are neither working nor learning

Teens and young adults were among the groups hit hardest by the global financial crisis. And while many young people have since regained their footing – as employees, students or both – there are still millions in the U.S. and abroad who are neither working nor in school. Though sometimes referred to as “disconnected” or “detached” youth, globally those young people often are called “NEETs” – because they are neither employed nor in education or training.

Although NEET rates rose both in the U.S. and the EU during and after the crisis, they jumped higher but have fallen faster in the U.S. By contrast, many EU countries’ NEET rates remain well above pre-crisis levels. (While similar, the U.S. and EU measures aren’t directly comparable – in part because the EU begins tracking young people’s labor-force participation at 15 rather than 16, and also because apprenticeships and other workplace-based training is more common in Europe than in the U.S.)

Labor economists are paying increasing attention to NEETs – especially when, as in much of Europe, NEET rates are persistently high. They fear that without assistance, economically inactive young people won’t gain critical job skills and will never fully integrate into the wider economy or achieve their full earning potential. Some observers also worry that large numbers of NEETs represent a potential source of social unrest.

Fewer NEET youth in U.S. as economy recoversIn 2015, there were nearly 10.2 million NEETS ages 16 to 29 in the U.S., or 16.9% of that age bracket’s total population, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That represents a modest decline over recent years: In 2013, there were just over 11 million NEETs in the U.S., representing 18.5% of the 16-to-29 population, according to our analysis.

Precisely corresponding data aren’t available for prior years, because the monthly Current Population Survey used by BLS only began collecting detailed school-enrollment data from Americans ages 25 and older in 2013.

However, longer-trend CPS data are available for 16- to 24-year-olds. Those numbers show that the NEET rate among that group generally follows the economic cycle. It fell between 1985 and 2000, from 19.5% to 14.3%, except for a bump during the early-1990s recession. The 16-to-24 NEET rate rose again following the early-2000s recession, fell back to 14.5% in 2007, then jumped during the Great Recession. The rate has ratcheted lower since peaking at 17.6% in 2010; last year it was 15.7%, a hair above what it was in 2008. Read More

Topics: Economic Recession, Teens and Youth, Work and Employment