Jan 30, 2014 6:00 am

On Twitter, criticism exceeds praise for Obama’s speech

During and immediately after the State of the Union address, the overall reaction on Twitter was more negative than positive and virtually the same as last year’s verdict. The Pew Research Center used a combination of computer algorithms and human coding to analyze the reaction on Twitter in terms of the topics discussed as well as the sentiment expressed.FT_14.01.29_SOTUtwitter_favor_310

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Topics: Barack Obama, Politics Online, Social Media

Jan 29, 2014 4:02 pm

Public sees GOP as less willing than Democrats to reach across the aisle

25 points

The public sees Democrats as more willing than Republicans to work with leaders from the other party by a 25-point margin.

1-25-2014_07House Republicans are to begin a three-day retreat Wednesday on Maryland’s eastern shore to regroup after a contentious year where the standing of the caucus’ leaders suffered (a 22% job approval rating) as they struggled with the party’s more conservative Tea Party wing. They hope at this meeting to emerge with an immigration proposal and strategies to present the party in a more positive light.

One public perception faced by the Republican Party in general is that it is less willing than Democrats to work with leaders from the other party. Americans say by a margin of 52% to 27%—a difference of 25 points—that Democrats are more likely to show such willingness than Republicans, according to a survey conducted in mid-January.

The survey also found that the public, by a 54% to 35% margin, views the GOP as more extreme in its positions.

While the share of Americans who say they like elected officials who make compromises with people they disagree with has risen in recent years, the public is still divided on the question, with 49% saying in January they prefer officials who compromise while 48% liked officials who stuck to their positions. And, surveys have shown that when the question of compromise is asked about a specific issue—such as a deal to end last October’s government shutdown—support drops for giving ground.

Republicans fare better when matched with Democrats on a number of other traits. The public thinks the GOP could do a better job than Democrats in handling the budget deficit by a 45% to 35% margin; they are about even (42% to 38%) on the economy, and they also run evenly with the Democrats on immigration (38% to 39%).

Category: Daily Number

Topics: U.S. Political Parties

Jan 29, 2014 1:49 pm

New academic study links rising income inequality to ‘assortative mating’

Bride and groom holding hands
© Dejan Ristovski / istockphoto

Here’s another reason the rich are getting richer and the poor are falling farther behind:  A new working paper by an international team of economists finds that better educated people are increasingly more likely to marry other better-educated people while those with less formal schooling are more likely to choose a less well-educated partner.

As a consequence, income inequality has increased because education is strongly correlated with income—the more schooling you have, the more money you typically earn, according to a team of economists headed by Jeremy Greenwood of the University of Pennsylvania.

Economists call the tendency of people with similar characteristics to marry “assortative mating.” For their study, Greenwood and his team tracked patterns in marriages grouped by education level from 1960 through 2005 using U.S. Census data.

Their analysis identified three distinct trends.  Consistent with previous research, they found that “the degree of associative mating [by education level] had increased” over that time period, according to the working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. (For a detailed look at marriage patterns of couples, see this Pew Research report.)  Read More

Category: Social Studies

Topics: Educational Attainment, Income, Income Inequality, Marriage and Divorce

Jan 29, 2014 1:06 pm

Inequality, poverty divide Republicans more than Democrats

FT_Rep-Dem-Poverty-InequalityIn recent weeks, many political observers have described a rift between liberals and centrists in the Democratic Party over how to tackle poverty, income inequality, and broader issues of economic fairness. Some have framed the discussion around Elizabeth Warren vs. Hillary Clinton. Others have focused on differences between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has proposed raising taxes on the rich to pay for a citywide prekindergarten program, and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has vowed to lower taxes.

But a new Pew Research Center/USA TODAY survey suggests that, at least for the moment, the issue of how best to deal with poverty and income inequality – and whether the government should address these issues at all – divides Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party more than it does Democrats and leaners. (See full table with detailed party breakdowns.)

To be sure, majorities of 60% or more among Republicans and Democrats across the ideological spectrum agree that inequality is on the rise, and about 90% of liberal and centrist Democrats say the government should do something about it. But while a 61%-majority of moderate and liberal Republicans say the government should do something to reduce the gap between the rich and everyone else, 55% of conservative Republicans don’t want the government to do much or anything at all about inequality. Read More

Topics: Income Inequality, Political Attitudes and Values, Poverty

Jan 29, 2014 11:37 am

Data Feed: Social-media SOTU, obesity rising for poor teens, Syrian refugees

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Politics
Twitter’s real-time reactions to the State of the Union, Twitter
Top five “social moments” during State of the Union, Facebook
Democrats, Republicans differ on top priorities for government, Gallup
Fewer states leaned Democratic in 2013, but blue still led red, Gallup
The $956 billion farm bill, in one graph, The Washington Post

Economy
Obama’s economy in 17 charts, CNN Money
Who are the long-term unemployed? In 3 graphs, NPR
Consumers in search of confidence, The New York Times
Who has a higher minimum wage than the federal rate? The Wall Street Journal
Average airfare was $390 in third quarter, up 5.1%, Bureau of Transportation Statistics
Housing affordability weakens in expensive West Coast markets, Zillow

Read More

Category: Data Feed

Jan 28, 2014 3:28 pm

On immigration, Republicans favor path to legal status, but differ over citizenship

As House Republicans plan to roll out their own proposals to reform the nation’s immigration system, polls continue to show a majority of Americans support some pathway to legal status for the 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S.

Roughly-two thirds of Americans favor either a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants (54%) or a way to stay in the U.S. legally without citizenship (12%), according to a CBS News poll last week. That includes support from about three-in-four Democrats (74%) and about half (52%) of Republicans.

FT-immigration-01-28-2014-01Three Pew Research surveys during last year’s immigration debate also showed strong support for allowing immigrants who live in the U.S. illegally a way to stay. In June, just before the Senate passed a comprehensive bill with a pathway to full citizenship, seven-in-ten (71%) U.S. adults said there should be a way for these immigrants to gain some form of legal status. This was supported by a 61% majority of Republicans, seven-in-ten independents (69%) and eight-in-ten Democrats (80%). Read More

Topics: Citizenship, Immigration, Unauthorized Immigration

Jan 28, 2014 2:40 pm

Obama’s approval number is near his lowest as he delivers State of the Union address

43%

President Obama’s job approval rating stands at 43% as he prepares to deliver his State of the Union address.

Like many presidents, Barack Obama has seen highs and lows over the course of his time in office when it comes to how well Americans think he is doing his job. In the afterglow of his election in 2008, his first rating started at what still stands as a high—64%. And, after what was sometimes referred to as a “second-term curse” year in 2013, he hit his low last November at 41%.

DN_Obama_AgainWhen Obama takes the rostrum Tuesday night for his fifth State of the Union, he will be speaking at a time when his current approval rating stands at 43%.

Last year was the only time just before a State of the Union that more than half the public gave Obama positive marks for the job he was doing, when 52% approved. Obama was riding the wave of his successful re-election campaign, which put him in a stronger position with the public than he was during much of his first term. He was also helped by the relative poor standing of the Republicans, whose favorable ratings had dropped significantly over the previous months.  Read More

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Presidential Approval

Jan 28, 2014 12:06 pm

Data Feed: State of the Union, medical expenses, intolerance in Europe

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Politics
What Americans want to see addressed in State of the Union speech, Gallup
Americans fretful over future, Obama’s abilities, with topline, WSJ/ NBC News
Obama’s puzzle: Economy rarely better, approval rarely worse, The New York Times
Nonwhites more positive about state of U.S., whites less positive, Gallup
Hawaii, D.C. most approving of Obama; Wyoming, West Virginia least approving, Gallup
Democrats most likely to watch SOTUGOP leads in congressional preference, Fox News
State of the Union: Frequently used words, The Wall Street Journal
Charting the ideology of State of the Union addresses, The Washington Post
State of the Union: famous firsts, Bloomberg
Stats of the Union: Interactive on America’s people, politics and economy, The Economist
Christie numbers tank as scandals continue, NBC News

Economy
Jobless rates down in 39 states, up in two, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Consumer confidence index increases again, The Conference Board
How gender, ‘crowding’ and recession affect mid-career job promotions, BLS
U.S. banks prune more branches, The Wall Street Journal
17 charts about economic inequality, The New Republic
Why real wages are falling as profits are rising, The New York Times
Income inequality in U.S. means princes don’t go after Cinderellas, The New York Times
As temperatures drop, home searches rise, Trulia
Super Bowl spending driven by automotive ads, The Wall Street Journal

Read More

Category: Data Feed

Jan 28, 2014 7:00 am

Local TV audiences bounce back

FT_localnews1Bucking a long-range trend of declining viewership, the audience for local TV news grew in all three major time slots in 2013. Viewership climbed 6% in the morning (5 to 7 a.m.) and 3% in the early evening (5 to 7 p.m.) newscasts, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis. The audience barely edged up—by .1%—in the late night slot (11 p.m.), a newscast that had suffered the biggest decreases in recent years.

The good news comes after a difficult 2012 when late night and early evening audiences each dropped by 7% and the morning audience decreased by 5%. Indeed, viewership for all three slots had declined every year from 2008-2012—with the exception of a small uptick in 2011. Pew Research analyzes Nielsen Media Research audience data for all four major sweeps periods — February, May, July and November — and computes national averages for each time slot. Read More

Topics: News Audience Trends and Attitudes, State of the News Media, Television

Jan 27, 2014 2:37 pm

Another year of lackluster payroll growth

1.6%

Nonfarm payroll jobs grew by 1.6% between December 2012 and December 2013.

The American people’s top policy priorities for 2014 are strengthening the economy and improving the jobs situation, according to a new Pew Research Center report. Those have also been the top priorities each of the last five years, and no wonder: Between December 2012 and December 2013 (the most recent data available), U.S. payrolls grew by just 1.6%, the latest entry in more than a decade of weak jobs growth.

Though the unemployment rate is based on a survey of households, economists tend to give more weight to payroll jobs, which are reported by employers. And those jobs have recovered agonizingly slowly since the official end of the recession. Adjusted for seasonal variations, U.S. payrolls shrank by more than 8.7 million jobs between their peak in January 2008 and their trough in February 2010. Since then, the economy has regained fewer than 7.6 million payroll jobs.

Seasonally adjusted payroll employment. Source: BLS
Seasonally adjusted payroll employment.
Source: BLS

It wasn’t always thus: As recently as the 1980s and 1990s, annual growth in payroll jobs frequently topped 2% or even 3%. But that ended with the dot-com recession around the turn of the century. Since then, even the strongest years of payroll growth have been below 2%. That lackluster growth could be one reason why fewer Americans identify as middle class – and why President Obama is expected to make the economy and jobs key components of tomorrow’s State of the Union address.