Sep 29, 2016 2:09 pm

Support for death penalty lowest in more than four decades

As the Supreme Court prepares to hear the first of two death penalty cases in this year’s term, the share of Americans who support the death penalty for people convicted of murder is now at its lowest point in more than four decades.

Only about half of Americans (49%) now favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder, while 42% oppose it. Support has dropped 7 percentage points since March 2015, from 56%. Public support for capital punishment peaked in the mid-1990s, when eight-in-ten Americans (80% in 1994) favored the death penalty and fewer than two-in-ten were opposed (16%). Opposition to the death penalty is now the highest it has been since 1972.

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Topics: Death Penalty, Gender, Race and Ethnicity, Social Values, Supreme Court

Sep 29, 2016 9:30 am

Partisans disagree on news media’s best, worst traits

Americans are divided in what they consider the most positive and negative attribute of the news media, and much of that divide follows party lines: Conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats stand far apart in their views of what the media do best and worst.

Conservative Republicans, for example, are more likely to say that reporting biased news is the most negative thing the media do, while liberal Democrats single out poor choices in the news they cover or how they cover it, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Jan. 12-Feb. 8, 2016, in association with the John S. and James L. Knight foundation.

The survey asked Americans to volunteer what they thought was the single most positive and negative thing the news media do.

As far as the most positive thing the media do, Americans are mostly split between two traits. Three-in-ten describe the media’s most positive attribute as simply doing their job of reporting the news, whether in general or on a specific topic. (Weather and traffic tops the list of subject areas, named by 11% of U.S. adults.)

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Topics: News Audience Trends and Attitudes, News Media Ethics and Practices, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Party Affiliation

Sep 28, 2016 10:04 am

Key findings about Americans’ views on religious liberty and nondiscrimination

Recent national debates over contraception, same-sex marriage and transgender rights have highlighted the growing tension between protecting religious liberty and guaranteeing nondiscrimination. Conflicts have arisen over whether religious business owners and others must provide contraception to their employees and, separately, whether they should be made to provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples. Americans also are grappling with the question of which public restrooms transgender people should use.

A new Pew Research Center survey that focuses on these themes finds the public closely divided over some – though not all – of these issues. Here are five key takeaways from the new poll:

1Americans are evenly divided (49% to 48%) over whether wedding-related businesses, such as caterers and florists, should be required to serve same-sex couples who want to marry, even if the owner of these establishments objects to homosexuality for religious reasons. But views on this vary considerably based on frequency of religious service attendance. Among those who attend church weekly or more, support for requiring businesses to serve same-sex couples drops to 31%, while among those who do not attend regularly, it rises to 56%.

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Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Health, Health Care, Lifestyle, Marriage and Divorce, Religion and Society, Social Values

Sep 26, 2016 5:11 pm

From universities to churches, Republicans and Democrats differ in views of major institutions

At a time of growing partisan polarization, Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided in their views of many issues and the opposing party. These differences extend to their opinions about the impact of many of the nation’s institutions, according to a Pew Research Center survey, and when it comes to the news media, this partisan gap is growing wider.

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Topics: 2016 Election, Education, National Conditions, U.S. Political Parties

Sep 26, 2016 12:15 pm

Among 41 nations, U.S. is the outlier when it comes to paid parental leave

In almost half of two-parent households, both parents now work full-time, and in 40% of all families with children, the mother is the sole or primary breadwinner. At the same time, fathers – virtually all of whom are in the labor force – are taking on more child care responsibilities, as fatherhood has grown to encompass far more than just bringing home the bacon.

Despite these transformations, the U.S. is the only country among 41 nations that does not mandate any paid leave for new parents, according to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The smallest amount of paid leave required in any of the other 40 nations is about two months.

In comparison, Estonia offers more than a year and a half of paid leave to new parents – by far the highest benefit mandated by any of the countries represented. A number of other countries – Bulgaria, Hungary, Japan, Lithuania, Austria, Czech Republic, Latvia, Norway and Slovakia – offer over a year’s worth of paid leave, as well.

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Topics: Family and Relationships, Family Roles, Gender, Household and Family Structure, Parenthood, Work and Employment

Sep 26, 2016 10:15 am

5 facts about the Supreme Court

James Peck of Springfield, Virginia, lays flowers down at a makeshift memorial for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Sunday February 14, 2016, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Matt McClain/ The Washington Post via Getty Images
James Peck of Springfield, Virginia, places flowers at a makeshift memorial for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a day after Scalia’s death in February. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The Supreme Court holds a unique place in American government. Sitting justices do not have set terms, and they can influence public policy long after the presidents who nominated them and the senators who confirmed them have departed. Partisans have often battled over these nominations because of the court’s ability to reshape or strike down laws favored by one side or another.

The politics surrounding court appointments has been apparent since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. President Obama nominated federal appellate court justice Merrick B. Garland to replace him, but Republicans in the Senate said they would not hold hearings or a vote on any nomination until after the next president was elected.

As the court’s new term gets underway, here are five facts on how Americans view the Supreme Court.

1Americans’ opinions of the court hit a 30-year low last year after controversial decisions, but have rebounded after a quieter term. In July 2015, 43% of Americans regarded the Supreme Court unfavorably – a 30-year high – while 48% had a positive opinion. At the time, views of the court were strongly linked to how Americans felt about the court’s upholding of the Affordable Care Act and legalization of same-sex marriage. This year, with the court short a justice, there were fewer high-profile decisions, and Americans’ views of the court have improved. In August, 60% had a favorable view, while just 32% saw the court unfavorably, back in line with the generally positive opinions found before 2015.  Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Political Attitudes and Values, Political Polarization, Supreme Court, U.S. Political Parties

Sep 26, 2016 7:00 am

Americans wary of using chip implants to boost brain power for the healthy

Thanks to scientific advancements, brain chip implants are already being tested in individuals to help them cope with an injury or ailment. But when it comes to the potential use of such implants to give an already healthy and capable person abilities that they do not currently have, Americans are more wary than enthusiastic.

Some 54% of U.S. adults foresee a future where computer chips will routinely be embedded in our bodies. But as with other kinds of potential human enhancements, a recent Pew Research Center survey found that more Americans are worried about the idea of an implanted brain chip (69%) than are enthusiastic (34%). And a minority of U.S. adults – 32% – would want this implanted device for themselves.

Several factors help explain people’s views about emerging technologies and their potential use to augment human abilities. Opinions about implanting devices often hinge on whether the effects would be permanent and irreversible. Asked specifically about the possibility that the effects of an implanted brain chip would be permanent, about half of U.S. adults (51%) say this would make the idea less acceptable to them.

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Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, Health, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Science and Innovation, Technology Adoption

Sep 23, 2016 2:33 pm

Ahead of debates, many voters don’t know much about where Trump, Clinton stand on major issues

The first presidential debate Monday night offers Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton an opportunity to explain their positions on important issues facing the country. Two months after the party conventions, only about half of voters (48%) say they know “a lot” about where Clinton stands on important issues, while even fewer (41%) say this about Trump.

A new Pew Research Center survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, including 802 registered voters, conducted Sept. 15-18, 2016, finds that overall interest in the debates is similar to levels in recent elections: 60% of voters say they are very likely to watch the upcoming debates, while another 19% say they are somewhat likely to watch.

When it comes to knowing where the candidates stand on major issues facing the nation, voters say they know more about Clinton’s positions than Trump’s: 48% know a lot, 32% some, and just 18% know not much or nothing about Clinton’s stances. By contrast, voters are 12 percentage points more likely to say they know little or nothing about Trump’s positions (30%), while 41% say they know a lot and 27% know some.

Republicans and independents who lean toward the Republican Party are roughly twice as likely as Democrats and Democratic leaners to say they know a lot about where Trump stands on important issues (58% vs. 30%). Nearly four-in-ten Democrats (39%) say they know little or nothing about where he stands.

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Topics: 2016 Election, Political Issue Priorities, U.S. Political Parties, Voter Participation

Sep 23, 2016 7:00 am

Many evangelicals favor Trump because he is not Clinton

Throughout the primaries and general election campaign, many observers have expressed puzzlement at the support for Donald Trump among white evangelical Protestant voters. Why would evangelicals rally behind a thrice-married candidate who is not widely viewed as particularly religious and whose views on the issues have not always aligned with the preferences of most evangelical voters?

A new Pew Research Center survey gave Trump supporters the chance to describe, in their own words, the reasons they support him over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Like other Trump backers, many evangelical voters are motivated as much by opposition to Clinton as by support for Trump. Indeed, 35% of white evangelical voters who support Trump mentioned that they do so at least in part because he is not Clinton. (The survey also asked Clinton supporters why they favor her candidacy, and about one-third cited Trump as a main reason they back her.)

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Topics: 2016 Election, Evangelical Protestants and Evangelicalism, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Polarization

Sep 22, 2016 3:15 pm

A political profile of disabled Americans

Election watchers and pollsters focus on any number of subgroups, from white born-again women to first-generation Latinos to men without college degrees. But one group that’s not often singled out in surveys is Americans with disabilities, even though they are as engaged with the election as the general public. The potential of the disabled as a voting bloc has also attracted attention in this year’s campaign.

To be sure, there are many kinds of disabilities, and not all Americans with disabilities are alike. Here, we look at whether and how Americans who self-identify as having a disability differ from those who do not in terms of the 2016 election.

Overall, Americans with disabilities have thought about the upcoming election and care about who wins at rates similar to Americans without disabilities. However, on the whole, those with disabilities are less likely to turn out to vote on Election Day as they face a number of obstacles to voting.

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Topics: 2016 Election, Demographics, Health, Political Party Affiliation, Voter Demographics, Voter Participation