Dec 31, 2014 7:00 am

Post-election blues? Democrats’ expectations for 2015 take a dive

Americans, especially Democrats, less optimistic about 2015The public remains deeply dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country. Just 26% are satisfied with national conditions, while 71% are dissatisfied. And Americans have muted expectations for the year to come: 49% say they think 2015 will be a better year than 2014, while 42% think it will be worse, according to a survey conducted earlier this month. The current ratings are more pessimistic than in recent years, as the public generally takes an optimistic view of the year to come.

A year ago, 56% thought 2014 would be a better year than the last, compared with fewer (35%) who thought it would be worse. Read More

Topics: Political Party Affiliation, U.S. Political Parties

Dec 30, 2014 11:49 am

U.S. border apprehensions of Mexicans fall to historic lows

For the first time on record, more non-Mexicans than Mexicans were apprehended at U.S. borders in 2014 by the Border Patrol, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of more than 60 years of Border Patrol data. This shift is another sign that unauthorized immigrants from Mexico are crossing the U.S.-Mexico border significantly less often than they did before the Great Recession.

U.S. Border apprehensions of Mexicans fall to historic lowsAbout 229,000 Mexicans were apprehended by the Border Patrol in fiscal year 2014 compared with 257,000 non-Mexicans during the previous year, according to recently published Border Patrol data. Taken together, total apprehensions of Mexican and non-Mexican unauthorized immigrants (more than 486,000) were up 16% over the previous year.

These numbers are dramatically different than in 2007 when Mexican apprehensions totaled 809,000, compared with just 68,000 non-Mexicans. The number of Mexican immigrants apprehended at the border peaked at 1.6 million in 2000, the Pew Research analysis showed. The last time Mexican apprehensions were as low as they are now was in 1970 when 219,000 Mexicans were apprehended. In 1970, non-Mexican apprehensions totaled just 12,000.

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Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration, Mexico, Unauthorized Immigration

Dec 30, 2014 7:00 am

Who’s having a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ day around the world

Typical Days Common in Europe; Good Days in Africa, Latin America and U.S.How would you describe your day today? Has it been a typical day, a particularly good day, or a particularly bad day?

As part of the Pew Research Center’s annual Global Attitudes survey, this question is usually the first we pose to respondents in all the countries we survey. One reason we ask such a milquetoast question first is to help the respondents become more comfortable with the interviewer. The vast majority of the polls we conduct are done with face-to-face interviews in the respondent’s home, and asking about their day is one way to kick off the conversation.

Having said that, the question is not necessarily a throwaway. Looking at the responses we received this year from 48,643 people we surveyed in 44 countries provides a glimpse of the mood of individual nations and even regions of the world.

A median of nearly two-thirds (65%) across the countries surveyed in spring 2014 responded that they were having a typical day. Only around a quarter (27%) said their day was going particularly well, and not even one-in-ten (7%) admitted their day was going poorly.

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Topics: Research Methodology

Dec 29, 2014 11:42 am

Our favorite Pew Research Center data visualizations from 2014

The heart of our work at the Pew Research Center is data. And data visualizations that tell clear stories about our research — whether it be about American politics or our changing demographics — are just as important as the words we write in a report. So, what makes a successful data visual? We think it should present information clearly and concisely, engage the reader and allow them to explore that information (Hat-tip to Alberto Cairo’s Functional Art; we’re also big fans of Dona Wong’s Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics).

This year, the design staff looked back through our 2014 archive, and these graphics stood out as almost universal favorites. These visualizations presented a particular challenge and, for each of them, we talk about the approach we took in presenting the data. Read More

Topics: Research Methodology

Dec 29, 2014 7:00 am

In late spurt of activity, Congress avoids ‘least productive’ title

laws passed by recent congressesWith the 113th Congress now in the history books, we conducted a final tally of our nation’s legislative productivity — in terms of both total laws passed and of substance. Our calculation finds that the 113th just barely avoided the dubious title of “least productive Congress in modern history.” But that’s only because of an exceptionally active lame duck session.

In all, the expiring Congress enacted 296 laws, 13 more than the 2011-12 Congress. Of those, we categorized 212 as substantive by our deliberately generous criteria (that is, anything besides building renamings, commemorative-coin issuances and other purely ceremonial laws); that was four more than the previous Congress. Read More

Topics: Congress

Dec 23, 2014 3:04 pm

As Cuban American demographics change, so do views of Cuba

President Obama’s new policy on Cuba opens the door to establish ties with the country for the first time in a half century. But this change comes as the Cuban American population itself is changing—in its demographics, views of U.S.-Cuba policy, and its politics.

Cuban Immigration Waves, 1950 to 2013The nation’s Cuban American population numbers 2 million, up from 1.2 million in 2000. Much of that growth has come from Cuban Americans born in the U.S., leading to a decline in the share born in Cuba from 68% in 2000 down to 57% in 2013.

At the same time, a new, more recent wave of Cuban immigrants has arrived in the U.S. Since 1990, more than 500,000 Cuban immigrants have entered the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. That has altered the demographics of those born in Cuba as the older generation of Cuban exiles passes away. In 2013, more than half (56%) of Cuban immigrants had arrived since 1990, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.

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Topics: Barack Obama, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Hispanic/Latino Vote, Latin America

Dec 23, 2014 7:00 am

Market is still hot for buying up local TV stations

Broadcast Revenues at Major Local TV Media CompaniesThe rush to acquire local TV stations by media companies continued in 2014 and resulted in strong financial payoffs for them.

From January to November 2014, 171 stations changed hands, at cost of about $5 billion, according to consulting firm BIA/Kelsey. This follows a wave of consolidations that took place in 2013, when about 300 local TV stations were purchased, at a total value of more than $8 billion. This leaves 589 stations in the hands of just 12 companies – up from 304 a decade ago.

Ten of the 12 companies reported revenue growth through the third quarter of 2014 (January – September) compared with the same period a year earlier (21st Century Fox and Meredith operate on a fiscal year that ends June 30, therefore the revenues reported here for those two companies are for July 1 through  September 30, 2014). Media General sits at the top, with $458 million in revenue for the nine months ending in September 30, 2014, an 187% growth from the previous year. During this accounting period, Media General owned 32 local TV stations in 29 markets, including 13 that it acquired in a merger with Young Broadcasting in November 2013. In March 2014, Media General announced plans to expand further by purchasing LIN Media. The merger was completed in December  2014, bringing the Media General total to 71 stations in 48 markets.

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Topics: Media Ownership, Media Performance, Media Revenue Models, News Media Sectors, State of the News Media, Television

Dec 22, 2014 12:08 pm

Less than half of U.S. kids today live in a ‘traditional’ family

Less than half of U.S. kids today live in a ‘traditional’ family

Less than half (46%) of U.S. kids younger than 18 years of age are living in a home with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage. This is a marked change from 1960, when 73% of children fit this description, and 1980, when 61% did, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of recently-released American Community Survey (ACS) and Decennial Census data.

Less than half of U.S. kids today live in a ‘traditional’ family Rapid changes in American family structure have altered the image of who’s gathering for the holidays. While the old “ideal” involved couples marrying young, then starting a family, and staying married till “death do they part”, the family has become more complex, and less “traditional”.

Americans are delaying marriage, and more may be foregoing the institution altogether. At the same time, the share of children born outside of marriage now stands at 41%, up from just 5% in 1960. While debate continues as to whether divorce rates have been rising or falling in recent decades, it’s clear that in the longer term, the share of people who have been previously married is rising, as is remarriage.

According to our analysis, today 15% of children are living with two parents who are in a remarriage. It is difficult to accurately identify step-children in the ACS data, so we don’t know for sure if these kids are from another union, or were born within the remarriage. However, data from another Census source — the 2013 Current Population Survey (CPS) — indicates that 6% of all children are living with a step-parent.

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Topics: Demographics, Marriage and Divorce, Parenthood

Dec 22, 2014 7:00 am

14 striking findings from 2014

In 2014, Pew Research Center published more than 150 reports (not to mention, some 600 blog posts) covering a wide range of topics — including demographic change, media habits, technology adoption, religious affiliation, and public opinion in the U.S. and worldwide. Here are 14 facts we found particularly striking, as they illustrate some major shifts in our politics, society, habits or families.

1Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines – and partisan antipathy is deeper and more extensive – than at any point in the last two decades: 92% of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat; and, conversely, 94% of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican.

Political Polarization

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Topics: Demographics, News Sources, Polling, Religious Affiliation, Technology Adoption, World Economies

Dec 18, 2014 9:30 am

5 key takeaways about political engagement in emerging and developing nations

Beginning with the Arab Spring, high-profile protest movements erupted in several emerging and developing countries over the last few years, giving people around the world the opportunity to participate in politics in less traditional ways. Millions have demonstrated, and activists have pioneered new forms of online engagement, but who really participates and how?

Here are five takeaways from a new Pew Research Center survey on political engagement in emerging and developing countries.

Most people in developing and emerging nations view, but fewer participate politically in other ways1Most people vote, but they participate in relatively few other political activities. Whether they are required to by national law or they do so out of civic duty, most people in emerging and developing countries vote. A median of 78% say they have voted at some point, more than double the amount of any other political activity tested, including attending campaign events and protesting. Participation in online political activities is low – just 7% say they have posted links to political articles and 9% have posted online political comments.

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Topics: International Governments and Institutions, Political Attitudes and Values, World Elections