Dec 1, 2016 12:40 pm

Will Trump’s backing revive moribund term-limits movement?

Donald Trump’s proposal for a constitutional amendment imposing term limits on members of Congress has drawn new attention to an issue that, after a burst of popularity in the early and mid-1990s, had been mostly dormant for nearly two decades.

By spring of 1995, 23 states had enacted laws or amended their state constitutions (in all but two cases by citizen initiative) to limit the terms of their federal senators and representatives, and congressional term limits enjoyed wide popular support.

But two events that year took most of the steam out of the term-limits movement. In March, the House of Representatives turned down a term-limits constitutional amendment, coming nowhere close to the two-thirds vote needed. And in May, the Supreme Court ruled that such an amendment was the only way to impose term limits, voiding all those state measures insofar as they applied to Congress. (Another term-limits amendment barely cleared a majority in a 1997 House vote, and the issue hasn’t been acted upon since.)

However, the Supreme Court’s ruling did not touch limits on state legislators that were enacted alongside the congressional ones. Today, 15 states limit how many terms their lawmakers can serve: Six impose lifetime limits of varying lengths, while nine require lawmakers to sit out after a given number of terms before they can run again. (In four other states, voter-imposed limits have been thrown out by state supreme courts on various substantive and procedural grounds; in Utah and Idaho, legislatures repealed term-limits laws directly.) Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Congress, State and Local Government

Dec 1, 2016 10:01 am

Divides over food science tied to personal concerns about eating, health

The American food landscape has seen major changes over the past 20 years. Genetically modified crops now account for a significant share of the food supply and, at the same time, the public’s growing appetite for organic foods has helped them find a place in mainstream supermarkets. Meanwhile, an array of new food processing techniques have been introduced to make goods more marketable.

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that divides in public opinion over food are encapsulated by how people assess the health effects of two kinds of food: organic and genetically modified (GM) foods. Americans’ beliefs about food connect with their personal concerns about the role of food choices in their long term health and well-being.

Here are six key takeaways from the report:

1More than half (55%) of U.S. adults believe organically grown produce is healthier than conventionally grown varieties, while 41% say there is no difference between organics and conventionally grown produce. Four-in-ten Americans (40%) say that most (6%) or some (34%) of the food they eat is organic.

Meanwhile, 39% of Americans consider GM foods to be worse for a person’s health than other foods. This compares with 48% who say GM foods are no different from non-GM foods and 10% who say GM foods are better for health.  Read More

Topics: Health, Public Knowledge, Science and Innovation, Trust in Government

Nov 30, 2016 3:30 pm

Sharing chores a key to good marriage, say majority of married adults

Sharing household chores is an important part of marriage for a majority of married adults. But among those who have children, there are notable differences in perceptions of who actually does more of the work around the house.

More than half of married U.S. adults (56%) – both with and without children – say sharing household chores is “very important” to a successful marriage, according to the most recent report from Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study. That ranks behind having shared interests (64%) and a satisfying sexual relationship (61%), but ahead of having children (43%) and having adequate income (42%).

Among married adults, men are slightly more likely than women to say sharing household chores is very important to a successful marriage (63% vs. 58%). And those ages 18 to 29 (67%) and ages 30 to 49 (63%) are more likely to say sharing chores is very important, compared with 57% of those ages 50 to 64 and 56% of those 65 and older.  Read More

Topics: Family and Relationships, Household and Family Structure, Marriage and Divorce, Parenthood, Social Values

Nov 29, 2016 3:23 pm

Hillary Clinton won Latino vote but fell below 2012 support for Obama

Hillary Clinton won 66% of Latino voters on Election Day, according to updated National Election Pool exit poll data, a level of Democratic support similar to 2008, when 67% of Hispanics backed Barack Obama. However, Clinton’s share of the Latino vote was lower than in 2012, when 71% of Latinos voted to re-elect Obama.

While Clinton underperformed among Latinos compared with 2012, Republican Donald Trump won 28% of the Latino vote, a similar share to 2012, when Mitt Romney won 27%, and to 2008, when John McCain won 31%, according to exit polls. (It is important to note that the national exit poll is a survey with an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for the national result.)

On immigration issues, 68% of Hispanic voters opposed building a wall along the entire U.S. border with Mexico, compared with 46% of whites and 82% of blacks, according to NBC News exit polls. When asked about unauthorized immigrants, 78% of Hispanic voters said they should be offered a chance to apply for legal status, compared with 67% of whites and 82% of blacks. Overall, 46% of Hispanics cited the economy as the most important issue facing the country, followed by terrorism (20%), immigration (19%) and foreign policy (11%). Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Hispanic/Latino Vote, U.S. Political Parties, Voter Demographics, Voter Participation, Voting Issues

Nov 29, 2016 1:30 pm

Trump voters want to build the wall, but are more divided on other immigration questions

Voters who supported Donald Trump in the presidential election view illegal immigration as a serious problem in the U.S. and strongly favor his proposal to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico. But they are more divided on other questions, including whether to deport some or all of the nation’s estimated 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants.

About eight-in-ten Trump supporters who cast ballots or were planning to in the days leading up to the election (79%) said illegal immigration was a “very big” problem in the U.S., according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted just before Election Day. Even more (86%) said the immigration situation in the U.S. has “gotten worse” since 2008.  Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Immigration, Immigration Attitudes, Migration, National Economy, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Issue Priorities, Unauthorized Immigration, Work and Employment

Nov 23, 2016 6:57 am

Who doesn’t read books in America?

Credit: iStock by Getty Images
Credit: iStock by Getty Images

About a quarter of American adults (26%) say they haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, electronic or audio form. So who, exactly, are these non-book readers?

Several demographic traits correlate with non-book reading, Pew Research Center surveys have found. For instance, adults with a high school degree or less are about three times as likely as college graduates (40% vs. 13%) to report not reading books in any format in the past year. A 2015 Pew Research Center survey shows that these less-educated adults are also the least likely to own smartphones or tablets, two devices that have seen a substantial increase in usage for reading e-books since 2011. (College-educated adults are more likely to own these devices and use them to read e-books.)

Adults with an annual household income of less than $30,000 are about twice as likely as the most affluent adults to be non-book readers (33% vs. 17%). Hispanic adults are also about twice as likely as whites (40% vs. 23%) to report not having read a book in the past 12 months.

Older Americans are a bit more likely than their younger counterparts not to have read a book. Some 29% of adults ages 50 and older have not read a book in the past year, compared with 23% of adults under 50. In addition, men are less likely than women to have read a book, as are adults in rural areas compared with those in urban areas.  Read More

Topics: Demographics, E-reading, Education, Internet Activities, Leisure Activities, Libraries

Nov 22, 2016 4:06 pm

Most say their churches remained above the electoral fray this year

The tumultuous presidential campaign may have dominated conversation in other walks of life this year, but there was little explicit discussion about the election or the candidates in America’s houses of worship, according to new Pew Research Center survey data.

Among voters who report attending religious services at least once a month, relatively few say information on political parties or candidates was made available to them in their places of worship (14%), and even fewer say they were encouraged to vote in a particular way by their clergy (5%). Similarly, very few voters overall say they were contacted by religious organizations about the election (6%).  Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Religion and Society, Religion and U.S. Politics

Nov 22, 2016 6:58 am

Among democracies, U.S. stands out in how it chooses its head of state

Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election this month – in particular, his winning a clear majority of the Electoral College vote despite receiving nearly 1.3 million fewer popular votes than Hillary Clinton – prompted readers of another Pew Research Center Fact Tank post to wonder how the U.S. system compares with the way other countries elect their leaders.

The short answer: No other democratic nation fills its top job quite the way the U.S. does, and only a handful are even similar.

Besides the U.S, the only other democracies that indirectly elect a leader who combines the roles of head of state and head of government (as the U.S. president does) are Botswana, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, South Africa and Suriname. (The Swiss collective presidency also is elected indirectly, by that country’s parliament.) Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Elections and Campaigns, Non-U.S. Political Leaders, World Elections

Nov 21, 2016 3:30 pm

Many voters, especially blacks, expect race relations to worsen following Trump’s election

Voters are far more pessimistic about progress in race relations under Donald Trump than they were after Barack Obama’s election eight years ago, and the shift has been particularly striking among blacks.

Nearly half of U.S. voters (46%) expect Trump’s election to lead to worse race relations, while just 25% say they will improve (26% say there will be no difference). By contrast, after Obama’s election eight years ago, 52% of voters expected race relations to improve, while just 9% said they would be worse; roughly a third (36%) said there would be little change.

A Pew Research Center survey of voters after Election Day finds that roughly three-quarters of blacks (74%) expect race relations to worsen following Trump’s election as president, while just 5% expect them to improve (17% expect little change). In 2008, these views were almost the reverse: 75% of black voters said Obama’s election would lead to better race relations, while about a quarter (24%) expected no difference in relations (less than 1% said race relations would worsen).

Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, African Americans, Race and Ethnicity

Nov 21, 2016 2:16 pm

Anti-Muslim assaults reach 9/11-era levels, FBI data show

The number of physical assaults against Muslims in the United States reached 9/11-era levels last year, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new hate crimes statistics from the FBI. There were 91 reported aggravated or simple assaults motivated by anti-Muslim bias in 2015, just two shy of the 93 reported in 2001.

Separately, the number of anti-Muslim intimidation crimes – defined as threatening bodily harm — also rose in 2015, with 120 reported to the FBI. Again, this was the most anti-Muslim intimidation crimes reported in any year since 2001, when there were 296.

Overall, the FBI reported 257 incidents of anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2015, a 67% increase from the previous year. These incidents included 301 individual crimes, 71% of which were crimes against people, as opposed to property. (Incidents can encompass more than one crime.) By contrast, crimes perpetrated against other religious groups more often involved property offenses, such as vandalism or theft. For example, 64% of anti-Jewish and 51% of anti-Catholic offenses in 2015 involved vandalism, compared with just 23% of anti-Muslim offenses.

Read More

Topics: Criminal Justice, Discrimination and Prejudice, Muslim Americans, Muslims and Islam, Religion and Society, Restrictions on Religion