It may seem at first glance like a political riddle: How can President Obama’s job approval rating be above 50% when only about a third of the public is satisfied with the way things are going in the country?
In a survey last month by Pew Research Center, 53% approved of Obama’s job performance while 42% disapproved. In three of four surveys since March, Obama’s job approval has been in positive territory – the first time this has occurred in more than three years.
But just 31% said they were satisfied with the way things were going in the U.S., while more than twice as many (66%) were dissatisfied. Public satisfaction with the state of the nation has been very low for many years. In fact, it has not consistently reached 50% since late in Bill Clinton’s administration.
National satisfaction and presidential job approval are both important measures of the public’s mood, but they measure different things. And when it comes to which presidential candidate people plan to vote for in November, presidential approval is a much stronger indicator than satisfaction with the state of the nation. This also was the case in 2008 and 2000, the last elections with no incumbent. Read More →
The way Pew Research Center calculates the estimated number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. is the product of decades of work by Jeffrey S. Passel, senior demographer, along with former colleagues at the U.S. Census Bureau and the Urban Institute. Passel has written numerous studies on the demography of immigration and on immigration issues. We talked with him about the research techniques used to derive the unauthorized immigrant population estimate – 11.1 million in 2014 – and what we know about the unauthorized immigrant population living in the U.S. in the context of the current immigration debate. (For a detailed estimate and analysis, see our report “Overall Number of U.S. Unauthorized Immigrants Holds Steady Since 2009.”)
What were the challenges in developing the estimate of unauthorized immigrants?
I’ve been working on this problem since roughly 1979. So, it’s not a new one. When we started, there really wasn’t very good information at all. The numbers available were speculative, with a very broad range. People were talking about maybe 6 million, maybe 12 million – all of which turned out to be too high. I was working at the Census Bureau and it was important to get some sound, empirical information on this population. We needed the numbers for a lot of different purposes at the time. The challenge was finding data sources that included unauthorized immigrants. We weren’t sure they were showing up in the census and our surveys but as we looked into the issue, it became apparent that our standard data sources did include unauthorized immigrants. That discovery led us to a variation of the methodology we’re still using.
The 71st General Assembly of the United Nations kicked off last week in New York at a time when the institution receives generally positive ratings from a diverse group of its constituent countries, according to our spring 2016 Global Attitudes Survey.
Overall, majorities or pluralities have a positive view of the UN in 17 of the 19 countries surveyed. Positive opinions range from a high of 82% in Sweden to 40% in India (where 43% of the public has no opinion of the UN).
Greece is the only country surveyed that has, on balance, a negative view of the international organization (53% unfavorable). But significant numbers – though minorities – of the Spanish (37%) and Japanese (34%) also hold unfavorable views of the UN in 2016.
Pew Research Center has been asking about global views of the UN for roughly a decade. In that time, there has been some year-to-year variation in each country on their respective views of the worldwide body, but not much overall movement. Read More →
Two years into his term as prime minister, Indians’ fervor for Narendra Modi continues and optimism about India’s direction and economy is on the rise.
When Indians look outside of their borders, they see their country playing a larger role in the world. And as both the U.S. and China try to strengthen their ties with India, Indians view the U.S. with warmth and China with suspicion. Here are some of the key findings from a new Pew Research Center report:
1Modi remains astoundingly popular, but there are growing partisan divides on his performance. Prime Minister Modi is seen favorably by about eight-in-ten (81%) of his countrymen, down just 6 percentage points since 2015. But approval for his performance on domestic issues such as handling of corruption and unemployment has plummeted among supporters of the opposition Indian National Congress party.
2Indians are extremely happy with their country and economy. Eight-in-ten say that the economic situation in India is good, reflecting the nation’s ranking as the fastest growing major economy in the world. A large majority (65%) believe India is headed in the right direction, and roughly seven-in-ten (72%) believe that today’s children will be better off financially than their parents.
More than 750 new low-power FM (LPFM) community radio stations have been licensed to join the FM airwaves since 2014, according to the Federal Communications Commission. This has nearly doubled the total number to more than 1,500 LPFM stations across the U.S. and its territories.
This surge is in part the result of a new window for applications that the FCC opened from Oct. 15 to Nov. 14, 2013. Thousands of applications poured in during that period. The window follows the passage of new legislation signed in 2011 that opened up opportunities for LPFM stations to operate in larger markets and urban areas. (The initial FCC order restricted LPFM stations to smaller markets and less densely populated areas.)
LPFM stations are spread across all 50 states. Twenty-two states have a moderate number of stations (20-39), though three have more than 100 stations each: Florida (121), Texas (114) and California (102). Additionally, a combined total of 11 LPFM stations are operating in the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The LPFM stations serve both rural and urban communities, but with an operating range of 100 watts or less, most have a broadcast reach of just a few miles and cater to intensely local and niche audiences. The FCC created its Low Power FM service in 2000 in an effort to better serve local communities following a wave of consolidation in the industry and combat the proliferation of unlicensed, primarily low-power “pirate” radio stations.
The United Nations is hosting a high-level summit on Sept. 19 to address the issue of refugees and migrants in hopes of coming up with a more coordinated approach to dealing with the large-scale movement of displaced people. The following day, President Barack Obama will host a Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in an effort to find significant new pledges from governments to help manage the crisis.
The topic of refugees is especially pertinent to Europe, where a record 1.3 million migrants, mostly from the war-torn nations of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, sought asylum in 2015. To understand public opinion on this issue, here are five charts that help explain European views of refugees based on our spring survey of 10 European countries.
1Many Europeans are concerned that the influx of refugees will increase the likelihood of terrorism and impose a burden on their countries. A median of 59% across 10 EU countries voice concern about the prospect of increased terrorism. This includes 76% who say this in Hungary and 71% in Poland. Around six-in-ten in Germany (61%), the Netherlands (61%) and Italy (60%) also think refugees will increase terrorism in their country. (The survey was conducted prior to terrorist attacks in France and Germany that occurred over the summer.)
Additionally, many Europeans believe refugees are a burden to society because they take jobs and social benefits that would otherwise be available to citizens of each nation. Overall, a median of 50% across the 10 countries surveyed says this. Only in Sweden and Germany do majorities say the opposite – that refugees make their country stronger because of their hard work and talents.
On a more positive note, only a relatively small share of Europeans (a median of 30% across nine countries where this question was asked) say that refugees are more to blame than other groups for crime in their countries.
The number of legal permanent residents applying for U.S. citizenship in the nine months starting last October is at its highest level in four years, and it is up 8% from the same period before the 2012 elections. Although some organizers of naturalization and voter registration drives have suggested the increase is a reaction to Donald Trump’s candidacy, a Pew Research Center analysis of naturalization data shows there have been much larger percentage increases in past years, with jumps not always coming during election years.
So far this fiscal year – from October 2015 to June 2016 – 718,430 immigrants have applied for naturalization, a 26% increase over the same time period a year before, according to data released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. By comparison, the number of naturalization applications increased by 19% in fiscal 2012 over the previous year.
But application numbers don’t always increase during presidential election years. In fact, many past spikes have occurred for more practical reasons, such as a pending fee increase.
National Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins Sept. 15, celebrates U.S. Latinos, their culture and their history. Started in 1968 by Congress as Hispanic Heritage Week, it was expanded to a month in 1988. The celebration begins in the middle rather than the start of September because it coincides with national independence days in several Latin American countries: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica celebrate theirs on Sept. 15, followed by Mexico on Sept. 16, Chile on Sept. 18 and Belize on Sept 21.
Here are some key facts about the nation’s Latino population by age, geography and origin groups.
1The U.S. Hispanic population now stands at 57 million, making Hispanics the nation’s second-fastest-growing racial or ethnic group after Asians. Today Hispanics make up 18% of the U.S. population, up from 5% in 1970.
2A record 27.3 million Latinos are eligible to vote in 2016, up from 23.3 million in 2012. But during the last presidential election, Latinos (48.0%) lagged behind blacks (66.6%) and whites (64.1%) in their voter turnout rate. Read More →
Category: 5 Facts
The contest for president between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is marked by an educational divide that is far wider than in past elections.
In Pew Research Center’s August survey, registered voters with a college degree or more education favor Clinton over Trump by 23 percentage points (52% Clinton vs. 29% Trump) in a four-way contest that included Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson (supported by 11% of voters with at least a college degree) and Green Party candidate Jill Stein (4%).
By contrast, voters who do not have a college degree were more divided in their preferences: 41% backed Trump, 36% Clinton, 9% Johnson and 5% Stein.
If the gap between Clinton and Trump holds in November, it will be the widest educational divide in any election in the last several decades. And the current gap is particularly pronounced among white voters.
In most presidential elections going back to 1992, college graduates and those without college degrees have differed little in their vote choices: In 2012, Barack Obama narrowly won more votes than Mitt Romney among those with a college degree or more (50% to 48%), as well as those with less education (51% to 47%), according to exit polls.
The share of Americans who do not identify with a religious group is surely growing: While nationwide surveys in the 1970s and ’80s found that fewer than one-in-ten U.S. adults said they had no religious affiliation, fully 23% now describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular.”
But there are differing ideas about the factors driving this trend – and its implications for society. While it appears the U.S. is becoming less religious, some contend that’s not necessarily the case. Instead, they say, the growth of the “nones” may simply indicate that people who are not religious are becoming more forthright and willing to say they have no religious affiliation, perhaps because being a “none” has become more socially acceptable.
Do survey data support this notion? The answer is yes – but only partly. Two, or even three, closely related things seem to be going on. Americans who are not religiously active and who don’t hold strong religious beliefs are more likely now than similar people were in the past to say they have no religion. But that’s not the whole story, because the share of Americans with low levels of religious commitment (on a scale combining four common measures) also has been growing.