Oct 21, 2016 10:58 am

For many Americans, Election Day is already here

Election Day is less than three weeks away, but for millions of Americans it’s already arrived. More than 4 million voters already have cast early, absentee and mail-in ballots, and if the trend of recent presidential election cycles continues, the number of people voting in such nontraditional ways could top 50 million by the time all the votes are counted.

In 2012, more than 46 million voters – almost 36% of the total – cast ballots in some manner other than at a traditional polling place on Election Day, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of state and federal election data. That figure includes 23.3 million people who cast civilian or military absentee ballots, 16.9 million who voted early (that is, in person during a specific period leading up to Election Day) and 6.3 million who mailed in their ballots.

The share of the total electorate that such nontraditional voting represents has grown rapidly over the past few election cycles. In 2004, according to our analysis, about 22% of the total vote was nontraditional; by 2008, nearly a third was.  Read More

Oct 20, 2016 9:48 am

6 charts that show where Clinton and Trump supporters differ

Voters who support Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agree on at least one thing – that they not only differ on plans and policies, but also on “basic facts.”  Their disagreements on issues extend to the nation’s progress and its ability to solve problems.

In August, a much greater share of Trump supporters (81%) than Clinton supporters (19%) said “life in America today is worse than it was 50 years ago” for people like them. And overall, about a third of registered voters said the country can’t solve many of its problems, but more Trump supporters (38%) than Clinton supporters (26%) said this.

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Category: 5 Facts

Topics: 2016 Election, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Issue Priorities, Political Polarization, U.S. Political Parties, Voting Issues

Oct 18, 2016 1:10 pm

Americans aren’t sold on plastic surgery: Few have had it done, opinions mostly mixed

From prosthetics to anesthesia, war has been a catalyst for many medical advancements. Modern day plastic surgery traces its roots to World War I, where trench warfare made soldiers especially susceptible to face and head injuries. It’s estimated that thousands of soldiers underwent cosmetic surgery during this time.

Plastic surgery has since expanded from treatments aimed mainly at repairing damage to include elective changes like liposuction or tummy tucks. While it’s now a multibillion-dollar industry, just 4% of Americans say they have ever had elective cosmetic surgery, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in spring 2016. Less invasive procedures like skin or lip injections are also rare; just 2% of U.S. adults report having had this done.

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Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, Health Care, Social Values

Oct 18, 2016 7:00 am

Most Americans trust the military and scientists to act in the public’s interest

About three-quarters or more of Americans are confident in the military, medical scientists and scientists in general to act in the best interests of the public. But fewer than half of Americans report similar confidence in the news media, business leaders and elected officials, according to a Pew Research Center report released earlier this month.

One-third of the public (33%) has a great deal of confidence in the military and an additional 46% say they have a fair amount of confidence. The high ranking of the military is consistent with a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, which found 78% of the public said the military contributes “a lot” to society.

Similar shares of Americans express at least a fair amount of confidence in medical scientists (84%) and scientists (76%).

The public expresses less confidence in school and religious leaders. About two-thirds (65%) say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in K-12 principals and superintendents and 53% have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in religious leaders.

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Topics: Domestic Affairs and Policy, Educational Attainment, Generations and Age, Health Care, Military and Veterans, Public Knowledge, Religious Affiliation, Religious Leaders, Religiously Unaffiliated, Science and Innovation, Social Values, Trust in Government

Oct 17, 2016 7:00 am

Putting post-debate ‘flash polls’ into perspective

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off in the first presidential debate at Hofstra University on Sept. 26. (Photo credit: Joe Raedle/AFP/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off in the first presidential debate at Hofstra University on Sept. 26. (Photo credit: Joe Raedle/AFP/Getty Images)

Prize fights and Olympic contests have judges, but debates between candidates for public office in the U.S. are ultimately judged by the voters. In the aftermath of presidential debates, there is intense interest in gauging “who won.” How can we know the answer to that question?

Pollsters answer in two ways: sample surveys of debate viewers, and comparisons of before-and-after polling about the candidates. By these measures, the results of the first two presidential debates were similar – sample surveys of debate viewers generally indicated that Hillary Clinton had won, and national polls tended to show support for Clinton holding steady or improving in the days following the debates. But after both debates, some supporters of Donald Trump – and the candidate himself – pointed to surveys conducted among visitors to news organizations’ websites, many of which found majorities saying Trump prevailed.

How should voters make sense of the flurry of polls that claim to tell us who won? Here is a brief overview of different ways of judging the debates.  Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Election News, Elections and Campaigns, Polling, Presidential Approval, Telephone Survey Methods, Web Survey Methods

Oct 14, 2016 3:39 pm

Key facts about the Latino vote in 2016

Significant growth in the number of Latino eligible voters has helped make the U.S. electorate more racially and ethnically diverse than ever this year. According to Pew Research Center projections, a record 27.3 million Latinos are eligible to cast ballots, representing 12% of all eligible voters.

Since 2012, the number of Hispanic eligible voters has increased by 4 million, accounting for 37% of the growth in all eligible voters during that span. The Hispanic share of eligible voters in several key battleground states has also gone up.

Latinos have favored the Democratic Party over the Republican Party in every presidential election since at least the 1980s, but their electoral impact has long been limited by low voter turnout and a population concentrated in non-battleground states. Despite large growth in the number of eligible Latino voters, it remains to be seen whether their turnout will set a record in November.

Here are key facts about the Latino vote in 2016.

1Millennials make up 44% of Latino eligible voters and are the main driver of growth in the Latino electorate. From 2012 to 2016, 3.2 million young U.S.-born Latinos came of age and turned 18, accounting for 80% of the increase in Latino eligible voters during this time.

2Among Latino registered voters who are “absolutely certain” they will vote, one-in-five will be voting for the first time, according to Pew Research Center’s National Survey of Latinos, published this month. Among Millennial voters, 36% say they will be casting a ballot for the first time, compared with 9% of non-Millennial voters ages 36 and older.

Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: 2016 Election, Generations and Age, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Hispanic/Latino Vote, U.S. Political Parties, Voter Demographics, Voter Participation

Oct 13, 2016 9:41 am

Jobs requiring preparation, social skills or both expected to grow most

Much of U.S. job growth over the past 35 years has been in occupations that require higher levels of education, training and experience, according to a recently released Pew Research Center report. And based on our analysis of official government job-growth projections, that trend seems likely to continue.

Employment in occupations requiring average to above-average levels of preparation – a metric that combines formal education, on-the-job training and prior related experience – is expected to grow 7.9% between 2014 and 2024, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. That equates to nearly 6 million of the 9.7 million jobs predicted to be added over that time. Employment in occupations requiring below-average preparation, on the other hand, is projected to grow by only 5.1%, or the equivalent of about 3.7 million jobs. (The BLS projects overall 2014-24 job growth at 6.5%.)

The differences in projected growth were even more pronounced when looking at social skills, which Pew Research Center defines as encompassing interpersonal skills, written and spoken communication skills, and management or leadership skills. Employment in occupations that require average to above-average levels of such social skills is projected to grow by 8.1%, versus just 4.4% growth for occupations requiring below-average levels of those skills.

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Topics: Education, Emerging Technology Impacts, Income, National Economy, Work and Employment

Oct 12, 2016 12:08 pm

Americans more tolerant of offensive speech than others in the world

In a variety of arenas, Americans are debating the boundaries of free expression. Dean John Ellison’s recent welcome letter to incoming University of Chicago freshmen proclaimed that the school would not support “safe spaces” or “trigger warnings,” pouring more fuel on heated debates about campus free speech. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick generated controversy by kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against racial injustice in the United States. And social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are struggling with how to handle online hate speech.

Enshrined in the Bill of Rights, free expression is a bedrock American principle, and Americans tend to express stronger support for free expression than many others around the world. A 38-nation Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2015 found that Americans were among the most supportive of free speech, freedom of the press and the right to use the internet without government censorship.

Moreover, Americans are much more tolerant of offensive speech than people in other nations. For instance, 77% in the U.S. support the right of others to make statements that are offensive to their own religious beliefs, the highest percentage among the nations in the study. Fully 67% think people should be allowed to make public statements that are offensive to minority groups, again the highest percentage in the poll. And the U.S. was one of only three nations where at least half endorse the right to sexually explicit speech. Americans don’t necessarily like offensive speech more than others, but they are much less inclined to outlaw it.

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Topics: Country Image, Free Speech, News Media Ethics and Practices, Political Attitudes and Values, Social Values, U.S. Global Image and Anti-Americanism

Oct 12, 2016 7:21 am

Support for marijuana legalization continues to rise

The share of Americans who favor legalizing the use of marijuana continues to increase. Today, 57% of U.S. adults say the use of marijuana should be made legal, while 37% say it should be illegal. A decade ago, opinion on legalizing marijuana was nearly the reverse – just 32% favored legalization, while 60% were opposed.

The shift in public opinion on the legalization of marijuana has occurred during a time when many U.S. states are relaxing their restrictions on the drug or legalizing it altogether. In June, Ohio became the 25th state (plus Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico) to legalize marijuana in some form after Gov. John Kasich signed a medical marijuana program into law. This November, Americans in nine states will vote on measures to establish or expand legal marijuana use.

Young adults have disproportionately driven the shift toward public support of the drug, though support is rising among other generations as well. Millennials – those ages 18 to 35 in 2016 – are more than twice as likely to support legalization of marijuana as they were in 2006 (71% today, up from 34% in 2006), and are significantly more likely to support legalization than other generations.  Read More

Topics: Domestic Affairs and Policy, Drugs, Generations and Age, Millennials

Oct 11, 2016 7:00 am

How income varies among U.S. religious groups

While there is a strong and proven correlation between education and income, it’s harder to know whether there also is a link between religion and wealth. What we can say is that members of some religious groups – not to mention atheists and agnostics – on average have a higher household income than others and those in the richest religious groups also tend, on average, to be better educated than most Americans.

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Topics: Education, Income, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices