While Americans want the U.S. to focus its attention more on challenges at home, the public does put importance on a number of long-term foreign policy goals that range from strengthening the security of the U.S. to issues that bear strongly on domestic concerns.
Protecting the U.S. from terrorist attacks and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction are overwhelming public priorities, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Oct. 30-Nov. 6.
But many other international priorities – jobs, energy security, drugs, immigration — that are intimately linked to domestic concerns also rank high on the list. These foreign policy aims of the American public have remained largely consistent since the late 1990s – a period covering three presidencies, two major wars and the worst terrorist attack in the nation’s history. Read More →
Topics: Foreign Affairs and Policy
More than half of Russians say Islamic extremist groups are a major threat to their country.
Security is being tightened across Russia in the wake of two suicide bombings in as many days in the southern city of Volgograd that have killed over 30 people and injured dozens. With the Olympic Games set to commence in less than six weeks in Sochi, a city located just a few hundred miles from the site of the attacks, this most recent stint of violence is causing added anxiety.
High profile suicide bombings throughout Russia in recent years have heightened concern about such violent extremism among the Russian public.
When asked about eight potential threats to their country, Russians said that Islamic extremist groups pose the biggest danger according to a Spring 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center. More than half (53%) claimed such groups were a major threat, trumping other potential dangers such as international financial instability (46%) and global climate change (46%). Women (57%) were more likely than men (49%) to consider such extremism a major threat.
Category: Daily Number
The trend among the U.S. public increasingly has been to turn away from international issues and focus on the home front. But while Americans have long been accused of lacking interest in the rest of the world, they have never lacked strong opinions about other countries.
As 2013 wanes, a Pew Research Center survey conducted Oct. 30-Nov. 6 found that Americans have strongly favorable views of some allies and negative opinions about a range of others. Some of this is driven by U.S. partisan politics. And history suggests all such opinions are subject to change.
Topping Americans’ most favored nations list are Canada (81%) and Great Britain (79%), long-time allies. Notably, they also see commercial competitor Japan (70%) in a positive light.
Congress finished up this year’s session without taking action to extend unemployment insurance, meaning that an estimated 1.3 million out-of-work Americans will lose their benefits effective Saturday. The program had begun under former President Bush in 2008 when the financial crisis began and pushed the economy into a deep recession, and it had been extended regularly until now.
A new extension of the benefits was not included in the budget compromise approved by the Republican-controlled House in mid-December. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised to hold a vote in that chamber in early January on a bipartisan plan to extend the benefits by three months.
Category: Chart of the Week
At year’s end, some of many lists to ponder involve “best podcasts.” While they vary according to taste, what’s apparent is that podcasting still has a significant place in online life. Indeed, 2013 was the year that Apple announced one billionth podcast subscription had been logged on the iTunes store.
Pew Research Center polling shows that the podcast user base continues to expand. A May 2013 survey found 27% of internet users ages 18 and older download or listen to podcasts, up from 21% three years ago in May 2010 and 7% of internet users in 2006.
Those downloading podcasts still tilt towards users who have the profile of “early adopters.” Among internet users, the groups most likely to consume podcasts include:
- Male internet users (30%), compared with women (24%)
- Younger internet users, particularly those ages 18-29 (33%), compared with older adults
- Online adults living in households earning at least $75,000 per year (35%), compared with those in lower income brackets
- College graduates (37%), compared with most adults with lower levels of education
- Internet users living in urban areas (30%), compared with those living in rural areas (24%)
Topics: Internet Activities
Here’s another possible explanation why there are so few cracks in the corporate glass ceiling: Men seem far more willing than women to sacrifice their ethical values in exchange for money or success on the job.
Or at least that’s the claim of two researchers who conducted a series of experiments that found women were less inclined than men to sell out their values in order to win bonuses and promotions, keep down workplace rivals, curry favor with superiors or otherwise advance their own careers. “We propose that women, more than men, find ethical compromises unacceptable,” wrote researchers Jessica A. Kennedy of the University of Pennsylvania and Laura J. Kray of the University of California, Berkeley, in the latest issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
There are other theories as to why only about 4% of senior executives in investment banking are women, as are 4.2% of chief executive officers at Fortune 500 companies (that percentage will tick up on January 15 when Mary Barra takes over as General Motors’ new CEO). Read More →
Category: Social Studies
When the Obama administration announced the official U.S. delegation to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia last week, several prominent gay and lesbian athletes were named among its members. Although the administration did not mention the anti-gay laws enacted in Russia over the summer when naming the delegation, President Obama made clear at an end-of-the-year press conference that he was sending a message to Russia about American values.
Obama described the delegation — which includes tennis legend Billie Jean King, Olympic hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow and Olympic figure skating gold medalist Brian Boitano — as “outstanding Americans, outstanding athletes, people who will represent us extraordinarily well” and stated “that when it comes to the Olympics and athletic performance, we do not make distinctions on the basis of sexual orientation.”
If 2013 is any guide, 2014 will continue to bring global policy challenges for the U.S. and the world on a range of issues, from managing tensions with Iran and China to navigating the internal conflict in Syria to developing policies on topics such as drone warfare, privacy and inequality. The policy debates will unfold against a backdrop of strong and shifting public opinion. Here are some data points that measure how the public in the U.S. and around the world see the challenges ahead for 2014:
1 Iran: Seven nations signed an accord to freeze the Iranian nuclear program and have given themselves the first six months of 2014 to negotiate a final deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Only about a third of Americans approve of the interim nuclear deal, according to a Pew Research Center survey. And nearly four-in-ten approve of President Obama’s handling of U.S. dealings with Tehran. If efforts to reach a final agreement with Iran should fail, publics in the countries involved in the negotiation are divided about what should be done. Among those who oppose Tehran acquiring nuclear weapons, nearly two-thirds of Americans support preventing the Iranians from developing nuclear arms, even if it means taking military action; as do roughly six-in-ten French, half the Germans and nearly half the British, according to a Pew Research poll. But only about a third of the Chinese and roughly three-in-ten Russians would support a military intervention. Read More →
Topics: Foreign Affairs and Policy
Most U.S. adults believe Jesus was born of a virgin, including one-third of Americans with no specific religious affiliation.
For most Americans, the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth still has real meaning. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of adults say they believe Jesus was born of a virgin, according to a new Pew Research survey on how Americans celebrate Christmas.
Majorities in the largest Christian religious groups believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, but the survey finds some variation. For example, fewer white mainline Protestants (70%) share this view than white evangelical Protestants (97%).
Even among Americans who have no specific religious affiliation, the story of Christ’s birth resonates with many. One-third (32%) of this group say they believe in the virgin birth. This might seem surprising, but according to a 2012 Pew Research poll, about one in five (18%) of those who have no religious affiliation describe themselves as religious, while nearly four-in-ten (37%) say they are spiritual but not religious; another four-in-ten (42%) say they are neither religious nor spiritual.
The new Christmas poll found an age gap on the question of Jesus’ birth. Two-thirds of adults under age 30 say they believe Jesus was born of a virgin, compared with three-quarters (76%) of those age 30 and older.
Differences also exist along racial lines. Nine-in-ten African-Americans (90%) believe in the virgin birth, as do nearly eight-in-ten Hispanics (78%) and seven-in-ten whites (71%). Women are more likely to believe in the virgin birth than men (78% vs. 69%).
According to the new poll, roughly half of Americans (51%) see Christmas mostly as a religious holiday, while one-third (32%) view it as more of a cultural holiday. About half (54%) say they plan to attend religious services on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day this year.
Category: Daily Number
Topics: Christians and Christianity
One-in-five adults who don’t have kids that believe in Santa still plan on a visit from Santa this year.
A new Pew Research survey makes one thing clear: Santa is not just for children. A significant share of Americans will pretend that Santa Claus visits their home on Christmas Eve, even some who don’t have kids. Seven-in-ten parents (69%) with at least one child under age 18 say they plan to pretend that Old St. Nick visits their house on Christmas Eve this year.
But even among parents whose children don’t believe in Santa, or adults who are not parents, about one-in-five plan on a visit from him. About one-third of U.S. adults say Santa Claus will drop in on them Christmas Eve, including 23% of those ages 65 and older. Even 11% of people who say they do not celebrate Christmas say they plan to get a visit from Kris Kringle.
Some young adults who are not parents may go through the Santa routine for the benefit of siblings that still believe, and older adults may do so for grandchildren and other young family members. Holiday traditions and nostalgia are also possible reasons Santa remains a part of people’s Christmas routine. Among U.S. adults overall, 72% say they typically got a visit from Santa Claus on Christmas Eve when they were children.
Category: Daily Number
Topics: Religious Beliefs and Practices