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

Nov 1, 2016 10:02 am

It’s harder for Clinton supporters to respect Trump backers than vice versa

Given the rancorous tone and often highly personal nature of this year’s presidential campaign, supporters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump might be expected to hold similarly negative views of one another. But a new Pew Research Center survey finds that Clinton backers – particularly highly educated ones – have more difficulty respecting Trump supporters than the other way around.

Nearly six-in-ten registered voters who back Clinton (58%) say they have a “hard time” respecting someone who supports Trump for president; 40% say they have “no trouble” with it. Nearly the opposite is true among Trump supporters, with 56% saying they have no trouble respecting someone who backs Clinton and 40% saying they do have trouble with it. Read More

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

Nov 1, 2016 7:00 am

Child marriage is rare in the U.S., though this varies by state

About 57,800 minors in the U.S. ages 15 to 17 were married as of 2014. That might sound like a lot of people (and it is), but it’s also just five of every 1,000 in that age group, a Pew Research Center analysis of 2014 data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey finds.

By contrast, 18 of every 1,000 of those ages 18 to 19 were married, and among those ages 20 to 24, the number rose to 107 out of every 1,000.

The rate of child marriage varies widely by state. It is most common in West Virginia and Texas, where about seven of every 1,000 15- to 17-year-olds were married in 2014. Several other states in the South and the West, including Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Nevada and California, also have above-average rates of child marriage.  Read More

Topics: Marriage and Divorce, Population Geography, Population Trends, State and Local Government, Teens and Youth

Oct 31, 2016 10:34 am

Clinton, Trump supporters deeply divided over use of fossil fuel energy sources

Supporters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump disagree on whether to support or oppose expanding the production of a range of fossil fuel energy sources, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis. Most Trump supporters favor increased production from coal mining, fracking or offshore oil and gas drilling, while most Clinton supporters oppose expanding the use of these sources.

There was only one question posed on issues related to climate and energy in this year’s three presidential debates and the vice presidential debate. But just as Trump and Clinton have stark differences on energy policy, so too do their supporters.

The largest difference between Clinton and Trump supporters is over expanding coal mining. About seven-in-ten (69%) of Trump supporters favor more coal mining, while 30% oppose it. In contrast, only 22% of Clinton supporters favor expanding coal mining, a difference of 47 percentage points between the two groups of voters. Roughly three-quarters (76%) of Clinton supporters oppose more coal mining. Trump supporters are also far more likely than Clinton supporters to favor more offshore oil and gas drilling (66% vs. 28%) and hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas (58% vs. 28%).

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Topics: 2016 Election, Energy and Environment, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Issue Priorities, Political Polarization, Science and Innovation, U.S. Political Parties

Oct 31, 2016 7:00 am

U.S. electoral system ranks high – but not highest – in global comparisons

As the long presidential campaign winds down, GOP nominee Donald Trump’s claims that the process is “rigged” against him – and suggestions that he might not accept the result as legitimate if he loses – seem to have struck a chord with his supporters. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 56% of Trump voters said they have little or no confidence that the election will be “open and fair,” compared with 11% of Hillary Clinton backers. Among those who say they strongly back Trump, nearly two-thirds (63%) say they have little or no confidence that the election will be fair.

Given that level of skepticism, it’s worth noting that the U.S. generally ranks highly on the overall freedom and fairness of its elections when compared with other countries, though not without some caveats.

Freedom House, a nongovernmental organization (though it receives funding from the U.S. government), has ranked nations on political and civil rights for more than 40 years. In its most recent report, Freedom House gave the U.S. electoral process 11 out of 12 possible points on its “electoral process” scale – the same rating the nation has had since 2007 (when its score was raised from a 10).

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Topics: 2016 Election, Democracy, Elections and Campaigns

Oct 28, 2016 1:00 pm

Obama job approval higher, but views of him are still the most polarized in recent history

As the campaign to elect the next president enters its final days, approval of Barack Obama’s job performance is as high as it has been at any point over the past four years.

Yet Obama’s approval ratings, on average, continue to be more politically polarized than any president’s dating back to Dwight Eisenhower.

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that 54% of the public approves of Obama’s job performance, while 42% disapprove. Obama’s job rating has not been this positive since December 2012, a month after his re-election, when it stood at 55%.

Since the start of the year, the share of Americans who approve of Obama’s job performance has increased 8 percentage points, while the share that disapproves has fallen 6 points. The rise in overall ratings is due to improving views among Democrats and independents; there has been little change in Republicans’ ratings of the president.

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

Oct 28, 2016 11:15 am

American public, foreign policy experts sharply disagree over involvement in global economy

Many Americans are skeptical that the advantages of economic globalization outweigh the disadvantages: 49% of the public said in an April survey that U.S. involvement in the global economy is bad because it lowers wages and costs jobs. That compares with 44% who said that global economic engagement is good because it opens new markets and creates opportunities for growth. The U.S. public’s divided worldview sharply contrasts with the overwhelming opinion among international relations (IR) scholars that America’s involvement in the world economy is good for the nation.

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Topics: Economic Policy, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Globalization and Trade

Oct 27, 2016 2:23 pm

Views of health care law break sharply along partisan lines

Democrats and Republicans remain extraordinarily divided in their views of the Affordable Care Act – and over what Congress should do about it – at a time when the law has become a major issue in the closing stages of the race for the White House.

About eight-in-ten Democrats (82%) approve of the law while 91% of Republicans disapprove of it, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Independents are more evenly split on the question, with 41% approving and 54% disapproving. But among independents who lean to the Democratic Party, 64% approve of the law, while 85% of independents who lean Republican disapprove of it.

Partisans have long been sharply divided over the health care overhaul itself, but they are growing farther apart in their views over what should be done about the law. About two-thirds of Democrats (68%) now say Congress should expand the law, up from 50% in March 2012. Just 18% of Democrats now say Congress should keep the law as is, down from 31% four years ago. Among Republicans, 85% favor repeal, up from 74% in March 2012, while the share that supports keeping the law as is has declined from 10% then to 5% now.

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Topics: 2016 Election, Health Care, Political Issue Priorities, Political Polarization

Oct 27, 2016 10:06 am

Shared religious beliefs in marriage important to some, but not all, married Americans

At a time when American society has become less religious, many people still say shared religious beliefs are an important ingredient for marital success. But married adults point to other factors, such as shared interests and even sharing household chores, as bigger keys to a successful marriage.

Nearly half of all married adults (47%) say sharing religious beliefs with one’s spouse is “very important” for a successful marriage, according to the newest report from Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study. Perhaps not surprisingly, nearly two-thirds of those married to someone from the same religious tradition (64%) take this view, compared with just 24% of those married to someone who is affiliated with different religions and only 17% of those in marriages between one religiously affiliated spouse and one who is unaffiliated.

But, overall, larger percentages of Americans rank other factors higher as key ingredients to a successful marriage. We asked respondents how important each of seven factors (including sharing religion) is to marital success. Topping the list as important for adults overall is having shared interests, a satisfying sexual relationship and sharing household chores.

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Topics: Family and Relationships, Marriage and Divorce, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Social Values