Mar 4, 2015 7:00 am

Opinions on Obamacare remain divided along party lines as Supreme Court hears new challenge

Views of Health Care Law, 2010-2015After clearing a major legal hurdle with the Supreme Court three years ago, the Affordable Care Act faces another high court battle this week that could deal a major blow to the law. This time, the question is whether four words – “established by the state” – are enough to invalidate a vital part of the health care law.

About five years after President Barack Obama’s signature health care law passed, more than 11 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through the program. And public opinion has remained steady: A greater share disapproves (53%) than approves (45%) of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Feb. 18-22. As was the case even before the original bill came up for a vote in Congress, public opinion regarding the program continues to fall along party lines, with nearly nine-in-ten Republicans (87%) against the 2010 health care law and roughly eight-in-ten Democrats (78%) in support of it. Independents disapprove of the ACA by a margin of 58%-39%. Read More

Topics: Barack Obama, Health Care, U.S. Political Parties

Mar 3, 2015 1:00 pm

Opinions on expanding access to experimental drugs differ by race, income

A majority of Americans support greater access to experimental drugs before clinical trials have been completed, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. But there are notable differences in opinion on this issue by income, education and race.

Generally, adults from higher-income households and college degree earners are more likely than others to favor greater availability of investigative medical treatments. And, when it comes to different racial groups, African-Americans are significantly less supportive of the idea than whites and Hispanics.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced a more streamlined process for doctors to obtain experimental drugs for seriously ill patients. The proposed changes are expected to speed up the application process and get investigative treatments to patients more quickly and efficiently.

The new FDA guidelines come after five states – Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan and Missouri – passed legislation in 2014 that would give terminally ill patients greater access to medical treatments that have not been fully evaluated by the FDA. At least 25 other states have filed similar “right to try” laws in the past year, and just last week, Virginia lawmakers unanimously passed legislation seeking to expand patients’ access to investigative experimental drugs. Read More

Topics: Health Care, Income, Race and Ethnicity, Science and Innovation

Mar 3, 2015 7:00 am

Religious restrictions among the world’s most populous countries

Changes in Restrictions on ReligionLevels of religious restrictions and hostilities among the world’s 25 most populous countries — where more than 5 billion people live — vary tremendously, from some of the lowest in the world (South Africa) to among the very highest (Indonesia).

Burma (Myanmar), Egypt, Pakistan and Russia also had some of the highest levels of religious restrictions, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center, using 2013 data (the most recent year analyzed). In these countries, both the government and society at large impose numerous limits on religious beliefs and practices.

In Burma, for example, Buddhist residents in Kyawpadaung Township tried to prevent Muslims from living in the area, displaying signs that said the town had been “purified” of Muslims. And in Pakistan, the government continued to enforce laws designed to marginalize the minority Ahmadiyya community, including laws that make it difficult for members of the community to vote or obtain passports and other legal documents if they do not renounce their faith. Ahmadis see themselves as a Muslim sect, but many Pakistanis do not view them as Muslims. Read More

Topics: Restrictions on Religion

Mar 2, 2015 12:42 pm

Ahead of redistricting, Democrats seek to reverse statehouse declines

Partisan Composition of State Legislatures

Late last month, a Democratic National Committee “victory task force” released its preliminary report on what the party needs to do to avoid a repeat of the pasting it received in November’s midterms. One of its main recommendations: The party needs to take control of more state legislatures in time for the redistricting that will follow the 2020 census.

Though they tend not to get much attention from Beltway insiders, state legislatures are key players in redrawing congressional-district boundaries. In most states, it’s the state legislature that takes the lead role in drawing new district maps, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. (Commissions do this job in 13 states and have advisory or backup roles in seven others, although the Supreme Court is currently weighing the legality of the commissions’ task.) Given the inherently political nature of redistricting, which party controls the legislature can be crucial to a state’s final maps and thus, control of Congress.

Read More

Topics: State and Local Government, U.S. Political Parties

Feb 27, 2015 4:04 pm

63% of Republican Millennials favor marijuana legalization

Support for legalizing marijuana has rapidly outpaced opposition, with a slim majority (52%) favoring its legal use as of October 2014. That trend is driven largely by the Millennial generation, who support marijuana at much higher rates than their elders.

Support for Marijuana Largely a Generational StoryBut when looking more closely at the opinions of young and old, the age gap is starkest among Republicans and those who lean Republican – a strikingly similar trend to what we’ve seen within the party when it comes to same-sex marriage.

Six-in-ten (63%) GOP Millennials say the use of marijuana should be made legal, while 35% say it should be illegal, according to our February 2014 survey. That level of support is higher than among Republican Generation Xers (47%) and Baby Boomers (38%), and much higher than among GOP members of the Silent generation (17%). (When we asked the question again in October, overall opinion was only slightly changed.) Read More

Topics: Drugs, Generations and Age, Millennials, Political Party Affiliation

Feb 27, 2015 1:45 pm

Hispanics more likely than whites to say global warming is caused by humans

Hispanics are significantly more likely than whites to say the Earth is warming because of human activities and that the U.S. should do whatever it takes to protect the environment, a new Pew Research Center analysis finds.

Hispanics More Likely than Whites to Say Humans Have Warmed the PlanetOur analysis finds that Hispanics, who make up an increasing share of the U.S. voting population in presidential elections, stand out when it comes to their views of the environment. Recent surveys from other organizations have had similar results. Democrats, the party most Hispanics identify with, have been pushing for more government action on issues such as climate change.

Read More

Topics: Energy and Environment, Hispanic/Latino Demographics

Feb 27, 2015 7:00 am

5 facts about religious hostilities in Europe

Religious Hostilities in Europe

While Europe is not the region with the highest level of religious hostilities – that remains the Middle East-North Africa region – harassment and attacks against religious minorities continue in many European countries. Indeed, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center, hostilities against Jews in particular have been spreading. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Europe, Jews and Judaism, Muslims and Islam, Restrictions on Religion

Feb 26, 2015 10:55 am

5 key findings about global restrictions on religion

Pew Research Center has been tracking data on religious restrictions in nearly 200 countries and territories since 2007, producing a series of reports that analyze religion-related social hostilities and government restrictions on religion.

Here are key findings from the latest report, which updates the data through 2013:

1After a consistent rise in recent years, social hostilities – those perpetrated by individuals or groups in society – declined somewhat between 2012 and 2013. A little more than a quarter of the world’s countries (27%) experienced high or very high levels of religion-related hostilities by individuals or social groups in 2013, down from 33% in 2012. Meanwhile, restrictions on religion imposed by governments were relatively stable between 2012 (when 29% of countries had high or very high restrictions) and 2013 (27%). (For more on the index used to determine these measures, see the full report.) Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Jews and Judaism, Muslims and Islam, Restrictions on Religion

Feb 26, 2015 10:55 am

Q/A: How Pew Research measures global restrictions on religion

Recently, the Pew Research Center released its sixth annual report examining global restrictions on religion. The report is a huge undertaking, detailing both government restrictions on religion and social hostilities toward religious groups in nearly 200 countries and territories.

Fact Tank sat down with Peter Henne, the study’s lead researcher, to learn more about the complex process of measuring religious restrictions.

Why do you measure global restrictions on religion rather than “religious freedom”?

We look for evidence of restrictions on religious belief and practice because they can be easier to measure in a transparent and objective manner. For example, we can find information on government policies that restrict certain types of religious practice – like conversion – but it is less likely that there will be information indicating whether individuals in a particular country feel free to convert from one religion to another. Read More

Topics: Religion and Government, Religion and Society, Research Methodology, Restrictions on Religion

Feb 26, 2015 9:19 am

As 2016 election looms, MSNBC shakes up its programming strategy

MSNBC has long relied on a roster of opinion-heavy shows with a liberal bent to carve out its place in the cable news world. But having struggled to keep pace with its competitors, the network has made moves suggesting that it is turning more to straight news in an effort to rebound.

Last week, MSNBC canceled two of its daytime opinion shows: “Ronan Farrow Daily” and “The Reid Report.” The move follows network president Phil Griffin’s end-of-2014 memo, which said that in 2015 “investing in original reporting” would be the channel’s focus.

On MSNBC, Opinion Dominates ReportingThis turn to reporting – and away from opinion – would be a significant change for the network. A 2012 Pew Research Center analysis found that MSNBC’s programming was 85% commentary/opinion and 15% factual reporting. By contrast, both CNN and Fox News Channel had a relatively even balance: 46% opinion vs. 54% reporting for CNN, and 55% opinion vs. 45% reporting for Fox News. Read More

Topics: Media Economics, Television