Mar 10, 2016 7:00 am

Many Americans say they voted, but did they?

“Did you happen to vote in the election this November, or did things come up that kept you from voting?”

One-in-six Americans who say they voted in the 2014 election have no record of votingIt’s a straightforward question, but the answers yielded some interesting results. One-in-six (16%) of those who say they “definitely voted” in the 2014 midterm election have no record of voting in commercially available national voter files, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.

So did they vote, or didn’t they? It’s important to know, because this is one of the means by which pollsters gauge the accuracy of their likely-voter predictions for future elections.

Determining who actually went to the polls and who did not is a challenge because, while the presence of a record of voting almost certainly means that a person voted, the absence of a record doesn’t necessarily mean they did not.

To examine the phenomenon of voting mismatches, we matched members of our American Trends Panel to a consumer database that includes official state turnout records as well as other other information on voters’ turnout history. We then compared the official records with respondents’ survey answers. A more detailed methodology can be found here.

So, why don’t we see a voting record for some people who tell us they voted?

One likely reason for at least some of this mismatch is the tendency for people to over-report “good” behaviors, such as voting, giving to charities, or attending religious services, while underreporting unattractive behaviors, such as drug and alcohol abuse. This phenomenon is known as the social desirability bias.

Another likely reason for the mismatch, as past research has found, is that the voting record for some people who actually voted is missed by commercial voter files. This happens most often for people who have recently moved. This error may have implications for campaign pollsters who rely on previous voting history in voter files to draw samples of likely voters or to help predict future voting behaviors. Read More

Topics: Research Methods, Voter Participation

Mar 9, 2016 12:45 pm

Democratic edge in Hispanic voter registration grows in Florida

Florida has long been a battleground state in presidential elections, with Hispanic voters playing a growing role in determining the outcome of the state’s presidential vote. Hispanic voters this year make up an even larger share of the state’s registered voters than in past years, but the profile of the Latino electorate has shifted over the past decade or so, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of state voter registration data.

Democrats hold voter registration advantage among Florida HispanicsDue to the state’s large Cuban voting bloc, the Latino vote had been reliably Republican. For example, President George W. Bush won both the Hispanic vote and the state in 2004. But 2008 represented a tipping point: More Latinos were registered as Democrats than Republicans, and the gap has only widened since then. This has led to the growing influence of Democrats among the state’s Hispanic voters in 2008 and 2012, two presidential elections in which Barack Obama carried both Hispanics and the state. At the same time, the number of Latino registered voters in Florida who indicate no party affiliation has also grown rapidly during this time, and by 2012 had surpassed Republican registrations.

In 2014, 4.8 million Hispanics lived in Florida, making it the third-largest Hispanic population in the nation, behind California and Texas. It is also growing faster than Florida’s population. Today 24% of Floridians are Hispanic, up from 17% in 2000. Overall, 1.8 million Hispanics were registered to vote in Florida as of February 2016, according to the state’s Division of ElectionsRead More

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Hispanic/Latino Vote

Mar 9, 2016 9:55 am

Americans, Canadians differ in concern about climate change

Justin Trudeau, the recently elected (and popular) prime minister of Canada, will hold his first formal meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday, an occasion that will also be marked by the first state dinner for a Canadian leader since 1997. High on the agenda will be discussion of a continental strategy on climate change.

Canadians more concerned about global climate change than AmericansCanadians are more concerned than their American counterparts on a number of key issues related to climate change. For example, in Pew Research Center’s spring 2015 survey of 40 nations, 84% of Canadians supported an international agreement to limit their country’s greenhouse gas emissions, compared with 69% of Americans. This agreement was subsequently adopted at the Paris COP21 conference, but whether the United States will enact such an accord remains in question.

A majority (56%) of Canadians say climate change is harming people now, while only 41% of Americans agree. On most of the questions presented to both Canadians and Americans on climate change, Canadians were more concerned and closer to the global 40-country median than Americans, who were generally less concerned than others around the world. Read More

Topics: Bilateral Relations, Energy and Environment, International Threats and Allies, North America

Mar 9, 2016 7:01 am

Among Israeli Arabs and Jews, limited optimism about a two-state solution

The conflict between Jews and Arabs in Israel and the surrounding areas dates back many decades, to well before Israel became a state in 1948. A long-term peace settlement repeatedly has eluded the efforts of political leaders on both sides, and public optimism that a two-state solution is possible may be receding in Israel, according to findings from Pew Research Center’s new survey.

Fewer Arabs now say peaceful coexistence between Israel and independent Palestinian state is possibleJust half of Israeli Arabs (50%) and fewer Israeli Jews (43%) think “a way can be found for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully.” Among Israeli Arabs, the share who believe such an outcome is possible has fallen by 24 percentage points in just two years (from 74% who said this in 2013).

Jews are divided starkly by political ideology on this question. A majority (62%) of those who describe themselves as being on the Israeli right politically say a peaceful two-state solution is not possible. An even bigger majority of those on the left (86%) take the opposite view, expressing optimism about a two-state solution. But self-described left-leaners make up only 8% of Israeli Jews, while those who identify with the political right are a much bigger share (37%).

Read More

Topics: International Governments and Institutions, Jews and Judaism, Middle East and North Africa, Muslims and Islam, Wars and International Conflicts

Mar 8, 2016 1:30 pm

So far, turnout in this year’s primaries rivals 2008 record

This year’s presidential nominating season has upended conventional political wisdom in any number of ways – from the dominance of Donald Trump on the GOP side to the surprisingly tough battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side. The keenly contested races also are driving record turnout among Republicans and higher than usual turnout among Democrats.

After long decline, primary turnout reboundsThrough the first 12 primaries of 2016, combined Republican turnout has been 17.3% of eligible voters – the highest of any year since at least 1980. Democratic turnout so far is 11.7% – the highest since 1992, with the notable exception of the extraordinarily high turnout in 2008. (Those figures may change, of course, depending on how the rest of the campaign plays out; history suggests that once one party’s nomination is locked up, turnout in subsequent contests tends to fall off.)

Turnout in presidential primaries varies considerably among states, and typically is lower in years when an incumbent faces no serious challenge for renomination. But looking at overall turnout rates since 1980, certain trends were clear: Combined major-party turnout fell from 25.7% in 1980 to 14.7% in 2004, before rebounding in 2008. Much of that was due to declining turnout in Democratic primaries; GOP turnout, by contrast, was relatively stable from 1980 through 2012, averaging about 10% in years with contested nominations and dipping to 7% or lower in uncontested years.

But even in relatively high-turnout years such as 2008 – and, so far, 2016 – primaries attract far fewer voters than general elections, even though (barring a contested convention) they determine whom voters get to choose from come November. In 2012, for instance, 129.1 million Americans, or 53.6% of the estimated voting-age population, cast ballots in the presidential election, versus fewer than 28 million in that year’s primaries. In 2008, 131.4 million people (56.9% of the estimated voting-age population) voted for president in the general election, more than twice the “record” number of primary voters that year. Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Elections and Campaigns

Mar 8, 2016 12:58 pm

In Israel, Jews are united by homeland but divided into very different groups

Few communities, even small ones, are culturally or socially monolithic. That is the case with Israeli Jews: There are only about 6 million Jews living in Israel, but there are major religious, social and political chasms that divide Jews within the borders of this small nation.

Breakdown of Jews in IsraelA new Pew Research Center survey finds that nearly all Israeli Jews self-identify with one of four subgroups: Haredi (“ultra-Orthodox”), Dati (“religious”), Masorti (“traditional”) and Hiloni (“secular”). Beyond differences in religious belief and practice, these groups inhabit largely distinct social worlds characterized by their own lifestyles and politics. Following is a short profile of each of these four major religious groups, based on the ways Israeli Jews in the new survey describe themselves:

Haredim are the most religiously devout group in Israel, with 96% saying religion is very important in their lives, compared with 30% of all Israeli Jews. The word “Haredi” literally translates to “trembling” or “fearing God,” and most Haredim live their lives secluded from the rest of society. They have few close friends outside their own group, and they generally oppose intermarriage with other Jewish subgroups. Haredim tend to dress more conservatively, often including large black kippas and shtreimel or fedora hats for men and wigs or other head coverings for women. Haredi men are much more likely to attend religious educational institutions (yeshivas), which also has traditionally exempted them from the mandatory military requirements that other Israeli citizens face – something that has been a recent topic of controversy in Israeli politics. Fully 83% of Haredim favor keeping these exemptions, but less than half of all other Jewish subgroups agree. Haredim are more ambivalent about the state of Israel than other Jews in some ways, because some have long felt there should not have been the establishment of a formal Jewish state before the arrival of the Messiah. For example, Haredim are far less likely than other Israeli Jews to identify as Zionists.  Read More

Topics: Jews and Judaism, Middle East and North Africa, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Mar 8, 2016 12:00 pm

Strong global support for gender equality, especially among women

Globally, religious freedom, gender equality get highest supportToday, on International Women’s Day, people around the world are celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Gender equality and women’s empowerment is one of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. And gender equality is among the most widely accepted democratic principles around the world, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey.

Majorities in 37 of the 38 countries surveyed say that gender equality is at least somewhat important (Burkina Faso is the exception). And a global median of 65% believe it is very important that women have the same rights as men, ranking second only to support for religious freedom among the six democratic values tested. Gender equality ranks above support for the democratic principles of competitive elections, free speech, a free press and internet freedom. Read More

Topics: Gender

Mar 8, 2016 6:00 am

7 key findings about religion and politics in Israel

For a small country, Israel holds a place of great importance for three of the world’s major religious groups. The modern Jewish state is not only the “Promised Land” for Jews, but the only country in the world where they form a majority of the population. For Christians, Israel is the “Holy Land,” because it is the place where Jesus’ life and death unfolded. And, for Muslims, Jerusalem is the place where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

Although Israel’s religious significance dates to ancient times, the country still receives frequent international attention due in large part to near-constant religious, ethnic and political conflicts. As part of its effort to better understand religion around the world, Pew Research Center has conducted a comprehensive study of religion in Israel, where there are major divisions not only between Jews and Arabs, but also among the major subgroups of Israeli Jews.

Here are several of the key findings from that report, which is based on an extensive survey of more than 5,000 Israelis, conducted in late 2014 and early 2015: Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Jews and Judaism, Middle East and North Africa, Muslims and Islam, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Mar 4, 2016 11:46 am

Half of those who aren’t learning about the election feel their vote doesn’t matter

Those not learning about the presidential election have less confidence in the impact of their voteAbout one-in-ten Americans (9%) did not learn about this year’s presidential election in a given week from any of 11 types of sources asked about in a January Pew Research Center survey. One striking trait of this group is their lack of faith in the impact of voting.

Half of this group thinks that their vote doesn’t really affect how the government runs things, notably higher than the 36% of those who learned about the election from at least one type of source.  Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Election News, Political Attitudes and Values

Mar 2, 2016 9:55 am

Women relatively rare in top positions of religious leadership

While many large religious organizations in the United States allow women to be ordained – and to hold leadership positions within the organization – few women have actually served at the very top.

Women in religious leadershipWe looked at nine major religious organizations in the U.S. that both ordain women and allow them to hold top leadership slots. Of those organizations, four have had a woman in the top leadership position. And, so far, each of these four has had only one woman in the top position.

Currently, the American Baptist Churches USA and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are the only groups in our analysis with women in their top leadership positions. Susan Gillies is interim general secretary of the Baptist churches and Elizabeth Eaton is the presiding bishop of the Lutheran group. Read More

Topics: Gender, Religion and Society, Religious Leaders