Apr 1, 2016 1:00 pm

Republicans skeptical their party would unite behind Trump

Amid a contentious 2016 primary season, a majority of Republican voters currently express uncertainty about whether the Republican Party would solidly unite behind Donald Trump if he were to become the party’s general election candidate. At the same time, roughly half of Ted Cruz’s and John Kasich’s supporters say that Trump would make a “poor” or “terrible” president.

For Republicans, Trump is most divisive frontrunner in at least 20 years A majority (56%) of Republican registered voters say that disagreements within the GOP will keep many from supporting Trump as the party’s nominee, while just 38% say the party will solidly unite behind him, according to a new Pew Research Center report. This is the most skeptical either party’s electorate has been of their party’s ability to unite behind a frontrunner in at least 20 years.

The Republican race stands in contrast to that of the Democrats in this regard. The survey finds little evidence of similar unease among Democratic voters about their party’s ability to unite behind Hillary Clinton if she were to become the nominee, with 64% saying the party will do so. This is on par with the shares of Democratic voters saying the party would ultimately unite behind either Barack Obama or Clinton herself in March of 2008.

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Topics: 2016 Election, Election News, Elections and Campaigns, Political Attitudes and Values, U.S. Political Figures, U.S. Political Parties, Voter Preferences

Apr 1, 2016 9:21 am

Americans’ views of job availability among most positive in last 15 years

Americans are now more positive about the job opportunities available to them than they have been since the economic meltdown, when views of the job market took a nosedive. Today’s more upbeat views rank among some of the best assessments of the job market in Pew Research Center surveys dating back 15 years.

Views of local job availabilityIn a new Pew Research Center survey on issues and the state of the 2016 campaign, 44% say there are plenty of jobs available in their community, while slightly more (51%) say jobs are difficult to find. That’s much more optimistic than March 2010 ratings, when evaluations of job availability bottomed out, with 85% saying jobs in their community were difficult to find. Back then, just 10% said there were plenty of jobs available. As recently as last January, the share who said jobs were hard to find outweighed the share who said there were plenty available by a 57%-36% margin.

These findings come as the Bureau of Labor Statistics report for March showed that employers had added 215,000 jobs. The unemployment rate stood at 5%.

The rebound in ratings of the job market puts them back around where they were in November 2007, just before the start of the recession, when 41% said plenty of jobs were available and 48% said they were difficult to find. The only time in the past 15 years when ratings of the job situation were more positive than they are now was in June 2001, when the unemployment rate stood at 4.5%. At that time, about as many said jobs were plentiful in their community (42%) as said they were difficult to find (44%). (Pew Research Center trends do not reach back to the late 1990s, a period of economic expansion and wage growth.) Read More

Topics: Economic and Business News, Economic Recession, Economics and Personal Finances

Mar 31, 2016 1:16 pm

Republicans, especially Trump supporters, see free trade deals as bad for U.S.

Trade and free trade agreements have had rough goings in both the Republican and Democratic 2016 presidential campaign debates. All of the remaining candidates from both parties have criticized the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a recently negotiated trade deal between the U.S. and 11 Asia-Pacific nations.

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that criticism of trade deals in general is particularly strong among Republican and Republican-leaning supporters of GOP presidential contender Donald Trump who are registered voters. Americans ages 65 and older and men, especially white men, stand out among this group. Although Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders have both come out against TPP, majorities of their supporters believe trade agreements have been good for the country.

Americans continue to favor free trade agreementsAmericans’ positive view of free trade deals has ebbed in recent years: 51% say such trade agreements between the U.S. and other countries have been a good thing for the country, while 39% believe they have been a bad thing. Favorable views of free trade accords peaked in 2014 (59%), and current positive assessments are similar to those measured in March 2011. Read More

Topics: Foreign Affairs and Policy, Globalization and Trade, U.S. Political Figures, U.S. Political Parties

Mar 31, 2016 7:00 am

10 demographic trends that are shaping the U.S. and the world

At its core, demography is the act of counting people. But it’s also important to study the forces that are driving population change, and measure how these changes have an impact on people’s lives. For example, how does immigration affect U.S. population growth? Do Americans feel that children are better off with a parent at home, in an era when most women work? How is the rise of the young-adult Millennial generation contributing to the rise of Americans with no stated religion? For this year’s Population Association of America (PAA) annual meeting, here is a roundup of some of Pew Research Center’s recent demography-related findings that tell us how America and the world are changing.

1Americans are more racially and ethnically diverse than in the past, and the U.S. is projected to be even more diverse in the coming decades. By 2055, the U.S. will not have a single racial or ethnic majority. Much of this change has been (and will be) driven by immigration. Nearly 59 million immigrants have arrived in the U.S. in the past 50 years, mostly from Latin America and Asia. Today, a near-record 14% of the country’s population is foreign born compared with just 5% in 1965. Over the next five decades, the majority of U.S. population growth is projected to be linked to new Asian and Hispanic immigration. American attitudes about immigration and diversity are supportive of these changes for the most part. More Americans say immigrants strengthen the country than say they burden it, and most say the U.S.’s increasing ethnic diversity makes it a better place to live. Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, African Americans, Demographics, Economics and Personal Finances, Family and Relationships, Family Roles, Generations and Age, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration, Immigration Trends, Income, Parenthood, Population Projections, Population Trends, Race and Ethnicity, Religious Affiliation, Voter Demographics

Mar 30, 2016 2:00 pm

Prior to Lahore bombing, Pakistanis were critical of Taliban and other extremist groups

Photo credit: AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary
Pakistani women mourn for their family member who was killed in a suicide bombing. (Photo by AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

The bombing that took place on Easter Sunday in Lahore, Pakistan, was a devastating reminder that the scourge of terrorism is not confined to the recent headlines from the Middle East and Europe. Pakistan has dealt with multiple extremist insurgencies over the last couple of decades, with a variety of groups operating in the area, including the Taliban, Tehrik-i-Taliban (Pakistani Taliban or TTP) and most notoriously, al Qaeda and its former leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. special forces in Abbottabad in 2011.

Pakistanis critical of extremist groups, although many offer no opinionA Pew Research Center spring 2015 survey found that Pakistanis were extremely critical of these terrorist organizations and supported government action to fight extremists. And they were also much more confident in the ability of the Pakistani government, led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to tackle extremist groups than they were in 2014.

Overall, Pakistanis had a very negative view of the Taliban and the TTP. (The Lahore bombings were carried out by a TTP splinter group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, and the TTP were also perpetrators of a horrendous massacre in a public army school in Peshawar in late 2014.) In the survey last April, 72% had an unfavorable view of the Taliban umbrella group, while six-in-ten had negative opinions of TTP specifically. About half (53%) of Pakistanis viewed the Afghan Taliban negatively and 47% voiced dislike for al Qaeda. Read More

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Foreign News, International Governments and Institutions, International Threats and Allies, Terrorism

Mar 30, 2016 11:15 am

6 facts about how Americans and Chinese see each other

Barack Obama and Xi Jinping
U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a press conference on Nov. 12, 2014, in Beijing. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting Washington this week to participate in a major global summit on nuclear issues. Xi will also meet on Thursday afternoon with President Obama. The meeting comes at a time of ongoing tensions between the two countries. The U.S. and its Asian allies continue to express concerns about Beijing’s aggressive posture in the South China Sea. Washington would like to see Beijing put more pressure on North Korea to halt the development of its nuclear program. Xi’s crackdown on domestic dissent is drawing increasingly harsh criticism from many in the U.S. And Donald Trump and his competitors have made the economic challenge from China a major issue in the Republican presidential primary contest.

As Pew Research Center surveys have shown, many of these tensions are reflected in American public opinion. Meanwhile, the Chinese public has its own complaints about the U.S. – in particular, most believe the U.S. is trying to contain a rising China.

Here are six key findings about American public opinion toward China, and Chinese public opinion about the U.S.

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Topics: China, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Global Balance of Power, International Governments and Institutions, International Threats and Allies, U.S. Global Image and Anti-Americanism

Mar 30, 2016 10:00 am

Israeli Jews from the former Soviet Union are more secular, less religiously observant

Strong majority among former Soviet Union Jews oppose religious involvement in public lifeAfter the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Israel’s largest wave of Jewish immigrants arrived from Russia and other former Soviet republics. These immigrants, who have far outnumbered those from other countries since Israel achieved statehood, were able to come because of Israel’s Law of Return, which allows all Jews around the world to immigrate and receive immediate citizenship. Israeli Jews support this right virtually unanimously.

There have been several points in Israel’s modern history when waves of immigrants arrived from particular countries or regions. For example, the first wave – largely from Russia and Romania – arrived in the late 19th century, while another took place in the period leading up to World War II (1929-1939) and was mostly made up of German Jews escaping the Nazis. After the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, rising tensions in the region spurred increased immigration by Sephardi Jews from the Middle East and North Africa. And in the 1980s and early 1990s, Israel airlifted thousands of Jews out of war-torn Ethiopia. Read More

Topics: Eastern Europe, Jews and Judaism, Middle East and North Africa, Religion and Government, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Russia

Mar 28, 2016 2:00 pm

Changing a social media profile picture is one way to express support or solidarity

In the wake of attacks in Brussels and in Lahore, Pakistan, some social media users are changing their profile pictures to express solidarity with victims and the people of these countries. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become a common way for Americans to get news, but they also can provide a way for users to respond to it.

Paris attacks, LGBT rights are the most common reasons social media users changed their profile picturesA new Pew Research Center survey conducted in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation finds that 18% of U.S. social media users say they have changed their profile pictures to draw attention to an issue or event. Of those who changed their pictures, 42% did so because of the attacks in Paris, many of them applying a filter displaying the colors of the French flag. The survey was conducted Jan. 12 to Feb. 8, before the latest attacks in Belgium and Pakistan.

The other prominent example of social media users seeking to make a statement with their profile picture was over the LGBT rights issue, for which a rainbow-color filter was commonly used; 21% of those who changed their picture did so for this issue. Overall, 7% of all social media users changed their picture in the case of Paris and 4% for LGBT rights. In these two specific instances, Facebook provided a one-click tool to enable users to overlay the French flag and the rainbow filters over their profile pictures.

These two instances far outpaced any other single instance. The category “other social or policy issues” – abortion or gun control, for instance – was named by a combined 16% among those who changed their picture. All others registered in the single digits, such as disease awareness and research, other terrorist attacks or terrorism generally, elections, and other tragedies.  Read More

Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Middle East and North Africa, News Interest, Political Attitudes and Values, Social Media, Terrorism, Western Europe

Mar 28, 2016 10:30 am

Views of NATO and its role are mixed in U.S., other member nations

Foreign policy and national security have been key elements of the debate for both the Republican and Democratic parties in this year’s U.S. presidential campaign. GOP front-runner Donald Trump recently added a twist when he suggested in a Washington Post interview that, while NATO is “a good thing to have,” changes are needed because the U.S. is doing “all of the lifting” and its allies need to do more. He cited in particular the handling of the face-off with Russia over Ukraine. In a subsequent interview with The New York Times, he called NATO “obsolete.”

FT_16.03.28_NATO_supportJust 49% of Americans had a favorable view of NATO in a Pew Research Center survey conducted in spring 2015, and those views have not changed much from previous years. Support includes 56% of Democrats but just 43% of the GOP. Notably, U.S. backing for the security alliance is the second lowest among eight NATO nations surveyed.

The NATO alliance commits each member to come to the collective defense of a member if it is attacked. During the confrontation with Russia over Ukraine last year, a majority of Americans (56%) were willing to fulfill this security commitment if Russia got into a serious military conflict with a NATO ally. But that finding masked a partisan divide: Nearly seven-in-ten Republicans (69%), but only 47% of Democrats, supported using force to aid a NATO ally attacked by Russia.  Read More

Topics: Europe, Foreign Affairs and Policy, National Security, Russia, U.S. Political Figures, U.S. Political Parties, Wars and International Conflicts

Mar 24, 2016 11:00 am

Historic population losses continue across Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico's population decline has become widespread in recent years

Population losses in Puerto Rico have accelerated in recent years, affecting every corner of the island and continuing the largest outmigration in more than 50 years, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly released county-level Census Bureau data.

Puerto Rico's population has shrunk since 2000Among Puerto Rico’s counties that saw the largest population losses between 2010 and 2015 was San Juan, home to the island’s capital city and largest metro area. That county’s population declined by 40,000 people (-10%) to 355,000, by far the largest numeric drop of any county. Nine other counties saw population declines of at least 10% during this time.

Only one of the island’s counties, or municipios, saw a significant population increase between 2010 and 2015: Gurabo, in eastern Puerto Rico, grew by 1,900 people (4%) to 47,000.

Overall, the island’s population was an estimated 3.47 million in 2015, down 334,000 from 2000 – a 9% decline. Three-quarters of this population loss has taken place since 2010. Puerto Rico’s population declined by 7% from 2010 to 2015, compared with a 2% loss from 2000 to 2010.  Read More

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Latin America, Population Trends, U.S. Census