Feb 27, 2014 11:02 am

Strong support for Israel in U.S. cuts across religious lines

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which holds its annual policy conference in Washington, D.C., beginning Sunday, is sometimes referred to as the “Jewish lobby.” But its mission is as an Israel lobby, and when it comes to public backing for that country in the U.S., evangelical Christians are even more supportive of Israel than American Jews by some measures.

U.S. support for Israel by religionAIPAC itself has taken note of that fact, making clear that its work is not limited to Jews. Its website refers to activists across all religions and says that “the evangelical Christian community plays an increasingly vital role.

Pew Research surveys find that similar shares of Christians (29%) and Jews (31%) say the U.S. is not supportive enough of Israel. Among white evangelical Protestants, nearly half (46%) say that the U.S. is not providing enough support for Israel.

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Topics: Evangelical Protestants and Evangelicalism, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Middle East and North Africa, Religion and Politics

Feb 27, 2014 10:40 am

Americans increasingly view the internet, cellphones as essential

How hard would it be to give up your cellphone, the internet, your television or your landline telephone? When the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project posed that question to Americans, they found that internet users were the most attached to their communication platform — and that landline users are now much less attached than they were just eight years ago.

More Americans say giving up the internet and cellphones would be very hard or impossible.The survey asked Americans about a total of six different communication technologies: the internet, cellphones, television, email, landlines and social media. Over half of internet users now say the internet would be “very hard” to give up. And among this devoted group, 61% said the internet was essential to them, either for work or other reasons. Translated to the whole population, 39% of all Americans feel they absolutely need to have internet access.

And while cellphone owners were pretty attached to their phones in 2006 (43% said they would be very hard to give up), that attachment has since grown: 49% would now have a very hard time giving them up.

These findings contrast with a declining attachment to televisions and landline telephones. Only 35% of Americans say they’d have a very hard time giving up their television, down from 44% in 2006. And only 28% of landline telephone owners would find it difficult to cut the cord, a sharp drop from the 48% who said this in 2006.

This may not be surprising. Americans have been ditching their landlines for years, as more households rely solely on cellphones. And our digital devices are offering us more and more ways to consume content beyond the televisions parked in our living rooms.

What may come as a surprise, however, especially considering that a majority of Facebook users check in on the site on a daily basis, is the low level of attachment to social media. Only 11% of internet users say social media would be very hard to give up, while 40% said it wouldn’t be difficult at all.

Topics: Internet Activities, Social Media, Television

Feb 26, 2014 11:04 am

Data Feed: Democrats want Clinton, young children now less obese, California’s driest year on record

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Most Democrats want Clinton to run in 2016, topline, New York Times/CBS News
Boehner’s favorability returns to pre-shutdown levels, Gallup
57% of Americans say UN is doing a poor job, Gallup
Pa. voters give governor low grades on their top priority – economy/jobs, Quinnipiac

Real average hourly earnings rose 0.4% in January, same as December, BLS
Federal revenues to increase significantly over next two years, then remain steady, CBO
How to read Obama’s new budget, Brookings
Value of natural gas net imports has declined dramatically in recent years, EIA

Health & Society
2013 is now California’s driest year on record, Public Policy Institute of California
Potential health-exchange customers lean toward narrower, low-cost plans, Fact Tank
More from Kaiser’s February health tracking poll, Kaiser Family Foundation
Obesity rate for young children plummets 43% in a decade, CDC via New York Times
1.3 million nonfatal violent crimes against disabled people in 2012, BJS
Male minorities struggle to succeed in community college, Chronicle of Higher Ed.
Mapping the battle over same-sex marriage, National Journal
Americans turn sharply favorable on gay issues, Religion News Service
Average age of U.S. farmers, 58.3 in 2012, continues three-decade rise, USDA
When one spouse has an affair, who is more likely to leave? Demographic Research

Ahead of elections, Indians want political change, Pew Research Center
Has the Venezuelan government helped or hurt the country’s poor? The Washington Post
Countries’ top trading partners are often their neighbors, Quartz
Map: Cocaine use and seizures around the world, The Economist
Which EU countries’ enterprises have greatest access to fast internet? Destatis
35.2% of Canadians live in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, Statistics Canada

Got new data to share? Send it to us via email facttank@pewresearch.org or Tweet us @FactTank.

Category: Data Feed

Feb 26, 2014 9:00 am

The U.S. Hispanic population has increased sixfold since 1970


The U.S. Hispanic population in 2012 was 53,027,708, nearly six times the population in 1970.

The Hispanic population grew to 53 million in 2012, a 50% increase since 2000 and nearly six times the population in 1970, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data. Meanwhile, the overall U.S. population increased by only 12% from 2000 to 2012. Hispanic population growth accounted for more than half of the country’s growth in this time period.

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Category: Daily Number

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics

Feb 26, 2014 7:00 am

Kaiser: Potential customers of health exchanges lean towards low-cost, narrower plans

Over half (54%) of the Americans who are most likely to sign up for health coverage through the  new health care exchanges —the uninsured and those who buy their own coverage — would opt for a plan that costs less even if the coverage is narrower, according to a new Kaiser Health Tracking poll released today. Broader plans at a higher cost would be the choice of 34%. The public, taken as a whole, leans the other way, with 51% saying they prefer a plan that costs more money but provides a broader network of providers while 37% would choose a lower-cost option with less choice. Americans who have employer-provided coverage prefer higher-cost/broader network plans by an even larger margin: 55% to 34%. Kaiser Health Tracking poll insurance coverage Read More

Topics: Health Care

Feb 25, 2014 1:51 pm

House set to lose six centuries of experience as Dingell, other long-serving members retire

Chart showing number of House and Senate retirements since 1930Monday’s retirement announcement by Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in history, brings to 40 the number of sitting House members (or 9.2%) who, for various reasons, aren’t seeking reelection this fall. That level is in line with historic levels of House turnover, but the impending retirements of several other long-serving members will collectively subtract more than 600 years of legislative experience from the chamber. Read More

Topics: Congress

Feb 25, 2014 1:25 pm

Arizona bill sparks debate about religious objections to gay marriage

Same-sex marriage is not legal in Arizona, but the state has quickly become the center of a national debate surrounding the issue after its legislature passed a “religious freedom” bill last week. The measure, which Gov. Jan Brewer must decide by Friday whether to sign into law, would allow business owners to cite religious beliefs as a reason for denying services – including to same-sex couples – without fear of legal retribution.

Arizona is not alone. Several other states – including Kansas, Tennessee, Oregon, Idaho and South Dakota – have considered similar measures recently, with some bills mentioning marriage specifically. For instance, South Dakota’s bill – since rejected – said businesses would not be required to provide services “related to the…celebration of any marriage…if such action would cause any such person or personal business to violate the person’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”

None of those states currently allow same-sex marriage, but legislators’ efforts may be preemptive. A growing percentage of Americans (72%, according to a May 2013 Pew Research survey) see legal recognition of same-sex marriage as “inevitable.”

Majorities in Most Religious Groups Say Same-Sex Marriage Would Violate Religious Beliefs

More than half of Americans (56%) say same-sex marriage would go against their religious beliefs, according to a survey we conducted in March 2013. But about half of those who say that same-sex marriage goes against their beliefs also say that gay couples should have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples.

States that have legalized same-sex marriage often have included exemptions for religious groups and clergy who oppose it, and courts have interpreted the U.S. Constitution to include broad protections that allow religious groups not to participate in same-sex marriages. But, so far, exemptions have not been granted to businesses and religious business owners, some of which have faced lawsuits alleging discrimination.

One of these cases involves a New Mexico photographer, Elaine Huguenin, who for religious reasons refused a request by a lesbian couple to photograph their commitment ceremony. The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled last year that Huguenin violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws and either had to start serving same-sex couples or close down; she has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review her case and is awaiting their answer. So far, courts in similar cases in other states also have sided with same-sex couples and against businesses.

Nearly a quarter of LGBT Americans (23%) say they have received poor service in a restaurant, hotel or other place of business because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Feb 25, 2014 12:46 pm

Venezuelans gloomy about their standard of living, nation’s economy


Just a third of Venezuelans say their standard of living is improving, a record low.

The massive protests sweeping Venezuela come at a time when many in that country have an increasingly dark view of both their own standard of living and the direction of the nation’s economy.

A record low 33% of Venezuelans said their standard of living was improving, according to a Gallup poll conducted last fall and released Tuesday. Just a year earlier, 54% had said their standard of living was improving.

Pessimism about the economy also runs high. About six-in-ten (62%) Venezuelans said the economy was getting worse, a huge increase compared with the 22% who held that view in 2012.

Beyond the economy, fear of crime contributes to Venezuelans’ unhappiness. In the Gallup poll, eight-in-ten said they did not feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where they lived, while those saying they did feel safe dropped from 34% in 2011 to 19%.

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Latin America

Feb 25, 2014 11:37 am

Data Feed: Cheating on taxes, consumer confidence, foreign languages in U.S. cities

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

NY voters split on Common Core, support moratorium; crosstabs, Siena
Americans’ views of Romney little changed since 2012 election, Gallup
Christie approval down 15 points since bridge scandal broke, Monmouth Univ.
Confidence in Congress, presidency has plummeted in past decade, Fox News

Consumer confidence index declines moderately, The Conference Board
Home prices up 11.3% in 2013, but fell 0.3% in Q4, S&P/Case-Shiller
Economists align on monetary policy but not fiscal issues, NABE
The ups and downs of U.S. military spending, The New Republic
U.S. net oil imports at lowest level since 2009, Energy Information Administration
Business leaders say knowledge trumps college pedigree, Gallup
State hiring credits have mixed record in spurring job growth, San Francisco Fed
Legalizing unauthorized immigrants would boost job market for natives, NBER
Volunteer rate declines to 25.4% in year ending September 2013, BLS

Read More

Category: Data Feed

Feb 24, 2014 2:40 pm

Plurality of Americans support current level of defense spending


A plurality of Americans say defense spending should be kept at current levels.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s plans to cut back the size of America’s army to pre-World War II levels are likely to run into political opposition on Capitol Hill. The cuts are also at odds with the views of Americans who say spending should be kept as it is, or increased.

Almost half (47%) of the public said military spending should be kept about the same, according to a survey conducted Oct. 30-Nov. 6, 2013. An additional 23% said it should be increased while 28% favored reductions. The findings reflect roughly the same sentiment found in a survey conducted a year ago.

FT_Defense_SpendingAlmost equal numbers of Republicans (50%) and Democrats (47%) favored keeping military spending the same, but they differed sharply when it came to those who wanted to see increases or decreases. Nearly four-in-ten Democrats (39%) would cut the Pentagon budget compared with only 10% of Republicans, while 37% of Republicans would increase defense spending compared with 12% of Democrats.

As a backdrop to the public’s views on military spending, the October-November survey found that 56% of Americans said the U.S. should ensure that it keeps its position as the only military superpower, a view that was virtually unchanged since 2009.

Opinion was more mixed on the question of whether the U.S. relies too much on military strength. About four-in-ten (43%) said American use of its military power was about right while 38% said it was too much and 15% said it was too little.

However, when the military spending question was put into the context of a specific choice — whether reducing the deficit was more important than funding the Pentagon at current levels — Americans said by a 51% to 40% margin that deficit reduction was more important, according to a December 2013 survey.

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Government Spending and the Deficit