With Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker poised to run for the Republican presidential nomination next year, and performing well in early polls, one aspect of his resume is drawing closer attention: his lack of a college degree.
Not that Walker is unusual compared with the overall U.S. population: In 2013, fewer than a third (31.7%) of Americans ages 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the Digest of Education Statistics. But Walker’s lack of a four-year degree (he dropped out of Marquette University in 1990) does make him, in the words of conservative commentator Rich Lowry, “an extreme outlier among top elected officials – and the journalists and consultants who surround them.”
As we first wrote back in May 2014, the last person to win the White House without having a college degree was Harry Truman, who studied briefly at a local business college and a law school but didn’t graduate from either. Of course, Truman was the incumbent in 1948 when he beat University of Michigan and Columbia Law grad Thomas Dewey, having succeeded Harvard man Franklin Roosevelt more than three years earlier. Read More →
Since 1976, Black History Month has been celebrated every February to commemorate the accomplishments of black Americans throughout history. In 2013, there were more than 38 million black Americans, a 74% increase since 1970, and the population is projected to grow to more than 55 million by 2060.
Over the past nearly 40 years, blacks have made progress on several fronts, including educational attainment and voting rates, but large gaps by race persist in areas such as wealth and poverty measures. Here are some facts about black Americans:
1High school dropout rates have declined faster among blacks ages 18 to 24 than the national average. Among blacks, the rate dropped from 24% in 1976 to 8% in 2013, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. Among all Americans, the rate also decreased, from 16% to 7% over this time period. At the same time, the share of blacks who have graduated from college has increased faster than the national average. For blacks, the share 25 and older who have at least a bachelor’s degree has increased from 7% in 1976 to 22% in 2013. Among all Americans, the share has increased from 15% to 32% over the same time period. Read More →
Category: 5 Facts
Over the past few years, much of the energy aimed at securing rights and benefits for LGBT adults has focused on same-sex marriage. But often absent from discussions about same-sex marriage and LGBT issues more broadly are the views and experiences of bisexual adults – the “B” in LGBT.
While some high-profile music artists and actors have talked about their bisexuality, openly bisexual adults are becoming increasingly more visible in other aspects of public life. This week, Kate Brown became the first openly bisexual governor in the U.S. when she was sworn in to her new role in Oregon. Brown follows in the footsteps of Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who became the first openly bisexual member of Congress when she took office in 2013.
Compared with gay men and lesbians, bisexuals have a different perspective on their sexual orientation and a distinct set of experiences, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey of nearly 1,200 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults. Bisexuals are much less likely than gay men and lesbians to say that their sexual orientation is an important part of who they are. Only 20% of bisexuals say being bisexual is extremely or very important to their overall identity. The shares of gay men (48%) and lesbians (50%) who say the same about their sexual orientations are much higher. (Due to the small number of transgender adults in the survey, it’s not possible to break out their responses. However, they are included in the total LGBT shares reported here.) Read More →
President Barack Obama enters his coming budget battle with the Republican-led Congress in a climate of American public opinion that is surprisingly positive. A growing number of Americans see signs of economic recovery, and the president’s approval ratings have increased accordingly in most national polls. At the same time, trends in public opinion are in line with Obama’s agenda: The priority given to deficit reduction has slipped somewhat, while public support for rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure has increased.
The president’s policies addressing income inequality generally meet with strong conceptual approval: The public heartily endorses efforts to improve the lot of poor people. At the same time, when it comes to income inequality, the public’s reaction to a populist approach may well be more mixed. While the public acknowledges the problem, there is less of a consensus about whether the government should take strong measures to reduce the gap between the wealthy and other Americans. It’s a highly partisan and potentially divisive issue.
Nonetheless, there is every indication that the public not only sees the problem of inequality, but is finding it more difficult to get ahead. The number of Americans who believe there is plenty of opportunity to get ahead through hard work has declined by 16 percentage points since the turn of the century, according to Gallup. Pew Research Center surveys also find a significant decline over this period in the share of Americans thinking that hard work leads to success. Read More →
What are the best skills for kids to have these days?
In today’s technology-driven world, is it best for children to hone their science and math skills to catch up with other countries that outperform the U.S.? Or is it best for them to be more well-rounded, with strong arts and athletic skills as well? Or perhaps parents should instead focus on encouraging less tangible skills in their kids, such as teamwork, logic and basic communication skills.
Pew Research Center recently asked a national sample of adults to select among a list of 10 skills: “Regardless of whether or not you think these skills are good to have, which ones do you think are most important for children to get ahead in the world today?”
The answer was clear. Across the board, more respondents said communication skills were most important, followed by reading, math, teamwork, writing and logic. Science fell somewhere in the middle, with more than half of Americans saying it was important.
Rounding out the bottom were skills more associated with kids’ extracurricular activities: art, music (sorry, right-brained people) and athletics. There was virtually no difference in the responses based on whether the person was a parent of a child aged 18 and younger or not.
But we also found some interesting differences: Read More →
At a time when China’s economic presence is growing in Europe, roughly half of young Europeans (a median of 52%) ages 18 to 33 have a positive view of the People’s Republic. But that view is tempered by their opinions about China when it comes to human rights.
Roughly six-in-ten French (61%) and British (59%) Millennials have favorable views of China, but that outlook is not shared by young Italians (28%) or Germans (30%). (In contrast, 44% of Americans ages 18 to 33 give China a thumbs-up.) Read More →
Perhaps no measure better captures the public’s sentiment toward the president than job approval. It dates back to the earliest days of public opinion polling, when George Gallup asked about Franklin D. Roosevelt starting in the 1930s:
“Do you approve or disapprove of the way ____ is handling his job as president?”
Our poll last month showed that 47% of Americans approved of Barack Obama’s job performance – up 5 points from his 42% rating in December. Digging deeper into job approval ratings reveals additional insights about the public’s views of its leaders. We looked at Pew Research Center data going back to Bill Clinton, and Gallup data going back to Dwight Eisenhower. These ratings reflect, for example, how views of presidents have become more politically polarized, as well as how key events in U.S. history have helped shape positive and negative views of our commanders in chief.
Category: 5 Facts
The U.S. Census Bureau should be paying more attention to the needs and opinions of the people and organizations that use its data, according to a recent National Academy of Sciences report.
The report, which focused on the American Community Survey, recommended that the bureau sharpen its sometimes confusing advice on evaluating data quality, consider trimming the number of tables it produces, and make it easier for users – both inexperienced and more advanced – to access statistics they need.
The American Community Survey is “an invaluable resource,” but the bureau should do more to make sure the survey meets researchers’ needs, including establishing a formal advisory group of users, according to the panel of data scientists who wrote the report at the Census Bureau’s request. The National Academy of Sciences is a private nonprofit organization, established by Congress, that provides independent advice on science and technology. Read More →
President Barack Obama’s recent interviews with Buzzfeed and Vox attracted considerable attention and comment — both as signs that those digital-media companies are emerging as significant news organizations, and as The New York Times put it, examples of the administration’s ongoing “efforts to connect with millennials and broaden its reach beyond traditional media outlets.” (See also Obama’s 2012 “Ask Me Anything” chat on Reddit, his Instagram account, and the 54.8 million followers of his official Twitter feed.)
Obama’s embrace of online news and social media continues a long tradition of presidents employing the latest communications technologies to speak to Americans directly rather than through the Washington press corps. In honor of Presidents Day, and given our abiding interest in all things tech, here’s a rundown of how presidents have adopted and used the “new media” of their eras. Read More →
The U.S. Constitution famously prohibits any religious test or requirement for public office. Still, most of the men who have been president have been openly religious, with many belonging to some of the country’s most prominent Protestant denominations.
Indeed, about a quarter of the presidents – including some of the nation’s most famous leaders, like George Washington, James Madison and Franklin Roosevelt – were members of the Episcopal Church, the American successor to the Church of England.
The next largest group of presidents were affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, which has roots in Scotland. Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson and Ronald Reagan, all of whom had Scots-Irish ancestry, were among the commanders in chief who belonged to the denomination.