May 21, 2014 2:45 pm

In the polls, Tea Party support falls among Republicans

Senate Minority Leader McConnell In Primary Election Victory
Senator Mitch McConnell waves to supporters after his victory in the state Republican primary over Tea Party challenger Matt Bevin, May 20, 2014. Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images.

The round of Republican primaries held Tuesday has been headlined as a tide-turning victory of the GOP establishment over Tea Party insurgents, with the most notable one being the win scored in Kentucky by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell over a well-funded opponent. But whatever yesterday’s votes portend, polls have been showing a decline in Tea Party support among Republicans since their peak of influence in 2010.

GOP's views of Tea PartyIn asking Republicans whether they agree or disagree with the Tea Party, Pew Research surveys found that agreement has fallen from 48% in March 2010 to 33% in our most recent poll conducted in late April this year. At one point agreement with the Tea Party dipped to 28% in May 2013, during the long budget standoff between congressional Republican leaders and the White House.

This decline continued a trend noted in several surveys that asked the question a different way: whether Republicans had a favorable or unfavorable view of the movement. Republicans with a favorable view declined from a peak of 64% in August 2011 to 53% last fall, according to our October 2013 pollRead More

Topics: Election News, U.S. Political Parties

May 21, 2014 6:00 am

In honor of Fact Tank’s 1st birthday, a data quiz just for you

Fact Tank Quiz Pew Research

A year ago today, the Pew Research Center launched Fact Tank, our very own data blog. Why? Because even though Pew Research publishes lots of reports, we still have a lot of data that are relevant to the things people are talking about in the news, online and with their friends, and we wanted to be a part of those conversations.

But “data” as a blog theme is tricky to get a handle on. After all, pretty much anything these days can be data, from your Facebook “likes” and Twitter comments to your fitness logs and flight delays. We wondered if people who love data about politics would visit a blog that also examined global affairs, U.S. demographics, religion, technology, journalism, economics and scores of other subjects through the prism of facts and figures. In other words, was there a big audience out there who loves data as much as we do?

Twelve months later, we’re happy to say the answer is yes. That’s you. Thanks for reading and engaging with us about data — our own and that of others. To mark the occasion and challenge our loyal readers, we’ve worked up a data quiz to see how much you know about the facts shaping our world, drawn from the 900 or so posts we’ve done since we launched. Warning: It won’t be easy. But you will feel smarter afterward. Take the quiz and share your score on Twitter with @FactTank.

May 20, 2014 2:40 pm

More Republicans than Democrats see military service as asset for presidential candidates

As the 2016 presidential campaign ramps up, Republicans and Democrats have different wish lists when it comes to what traits they want in a candidate. Military service far and away tops the list for Republicans, while a significant share of Democrats would like to see a woman at the top of the ticket, a choice that has much less appeal for the GOP, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted last month.

Presidential traits partisan divide

Republican and Republican leaners respond strongly to military experience: 58% say they would be more likely to support a candidate with military experience, the top positive trait for Republicans of the 16 tested in the survey. Military experience also tops the list for Democrats and Democratic leaners, but they are not as enthusiastic as Republicans: 31% say they would be more likely to support a candidate who has served in the military, while 62% say this wouldn’t matter to them. While a positive for both Democrats and Republicans, military experience is not easy to find among the list of much-talked-about potential 2016 candidates.

Read More

Topics: Political Attitudes and Values, Political Party Affiliation, U.S. Political Parties

May 20, 2014 9:02 am

News interest: Conservatives big on Benghazi, liberals follow Nigeria kidnappings and Sterling

The U.S. public's news interest on the benghazi, Nigerian kidnappings and Donald Sterling stories.The country’s ideological divide can be measured a lot of ways, such as by votes or how people stand on issues. But it can also be seen in the news stories that people follow and, last week, conservatives were more interested in the return of the Benghazi story, while liberals focused on coverage of the kidnappings in Nigeria and the uproar over the racial comments of Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling.

Roughly half of liberal Democrats followed news about the Nigerian kidnappings(48%) and Donald Sterling’s comments (47%) very closely. Fewer conservative Republicans paid very close attention to news about the kidnapping (28%) and Sterling’s comments (18%), according to a survey conducted May 15-18.

Read More

Topics: News Interest

May 20, 2014 7:00 am

EU’s mood: A country by country tour

The latest survey results from seven European Union countries reveal a wide range of views across the region about the economy, the future and the EU itself. Just ahead of the parliamentary elections, here’s a tour of the sentiment expressed by the public in each nation.

1The Brits are looking more upbeat

UK Views of EUThe British economy was particularly hard hit by recent economic crisis. In 2009, the economy shrunk by 5.2%. But in 2014, the UK economy is now expected to expand by 2.9%. Not surprisingly, there has been a parallel dramatic turnaround in the British mood in just the last year: 43% of Brits say the nation’s economy is now doing well, up 28 points since 2013.

And 45% expect continued improvement, up 23 points from the optimism expressed last year. What’s more, pessimism has fallen: Just 17% expect the economy to worsen, the lowest economic pessimism among the EU countries surveyed. An improved economic outlook may have bolstered support for the European project: Half of the British public now has a positive view of the European Union. Belief that European economic integration has been good for the UK is up 15 points. (This is particularly true among young Brits.)  Read More

Topics: Europe, Foreign News, International Governments and Institutions

May 19, 2014 1:57 pm

Public and private college grads rank about equally in life satisfaction

Private and public college grads say they are about equally satisfied in lifeAt a time when college tuition is rising rapidly—particularly at the nation’s private colleges and universities—students and their parents face the question of whether a more expensive education leads to greater returns later in life. The answer given by those who have graduated from college is that their feelings of personal satisfaction and economic well-being are about the same, no matter which type of institution they attended, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey.

Majorities of each group were satisfied with their family life, financial situation and current job. There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups on any of those three measures on overall satisfaction, though private school graduates were somewhat more likely than public school graduates to say they were “very satisfied” with their personal financial situation (44% vs. 34%).

Read More

Topics: College, Economics and Personal Finances, Life Satisfaction, Student Loans

May 19, 2014 12:00 pm

Middle East’s Christian population in flux as Pope Francis visits Holy Land

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Jordan, the West Bank and Israel this weekend. Since becoming pope, he has expressed concern for the situation of Christians in the region, whom he said “suffer in a particularly severe way the consequences of tensions and conflicts in many parts of the Middle East.” After meeting with Christian leaders from the region last fall in the Vatican, Francis said he and other Catholic leaders “will not resign ourselves to imagining a Middle East without Christians.”

Christian population trends in the Middle EastBetween 1900 and 2010, the total number of Christians in the region – including Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories – grew from 1.6 million to 7.5 million. But while the Christian population in the Middle East more than quadrupled in that period, the non-Christian population increased ten-fold. As a result, the Christian share of the overall population in the region decreased from 10% in 1900 to 5% in 2010. In recent decades, Christians in the region have tended to be older, have fewer children and be more likely to leave the area compared with Muslims.

Since 2010, there has been considerable population change in the region due to war in Iraq and Syria, hostilities in other countries and related migration, but there is little reliable data to measure overall regional shifts in the last few years. Many Christians have left Iraq in recent years, though many stayed in the Middle East, fleeing to neighboring countries such as Jordan.

Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Middle East and North Africa, Religion and Politics, Religion and Society

May 19, 2014 7:00 am

32 years ago, experts foresaw much of today’s digital world

Alcatel Minitel communication terminal, France, 1983.
An Alcatel Minitel videotex terminal from 1983. Credit: Science & Society Picture Library via Getty Images

In a new Pew Research Center report, nearly 1,600 technology experts give their thoughts about how the “Internet of Things” — wearable computers, processor-embedded products and other digital advances — will alter society over the next decade. Many (though not all) of the experts foresee, in the words of the report, “a global, immersive, ambient networked computing environment” that will change the way we do everything from stocking our fridges to finding our soulmates.

"Teletext and Videotex in the United States," by Tydeman, Lipinski et al. (1982)Such predictive exercises have a long history, going back at least to H.G. Wells at the beginning of the 20th century. More than 30 years ago, the Institute for the Future, a Silicon Valley think tank, produced a book-length report on the development and potential impacts of electronic information technologies. What’s impressive is how much the report’s authors got right even though their fundamental assumption — that teletext and videotex, two nearly-forgotten platforms, would be in general use by the turn of the century — didn’t pan out.

Back in 1982, when the report was published, not only was the internet nonexistent but its ancestor, ARPANET, had fewer than 300 host computers, mostly at universities, government agencies and the military. At the time, many observers believed that teletext (one-way communication) and videotex (two-way), delivered to televisions or special-purpose terminals via telephone lines or coaxial cable, would be the main vehicles for bringing electronic information services to the masses.  Read More

Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, Future of the Internet, Internet Activities

May 16, 2014 4:54 pm

Public school enrollment disparities exist 60 years after historic desegregation ruling

Sixty years ago, the Supreme Court handed down its landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, holding that racial segregation in public schools violated the Constitution. But while schools have become more integrated, in part due to broad demographic trends, white students remain significantly less likely than minorities to attend diverse schools, according to an analysis of U.S. Department of Education data by the Pew Research Center.

Student enrollment at majority-minority public schoolsIn 2010, some 15.9% of whites attended a school where minorities made up at least half of all students. By comparison, more than three-quarters of Hispanics and blacks (and six-in-ten Asians) attended these “majority-minority” schools. White students, while still a majority in the nation’s public school classrooms, have shrunk in number. From 1990 to 2010, the number of white students decreased by 2.1 million. Meanwhile, the number of black, Hispanic and Asian students in those schools has increased by 8.9 million. White students in 2012 made up 51% of public school students, down from 68% in 1990.

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Topics: Education, Race and Ethnicity

May 16, 2014 3:08 pm

Chart of the Week: Who really drinks the most?


It’s always nice when a graphic not only presents its information clearly and attractively but when it leads you to look at things in a new way, as this chart from The Economist does. Russia and other former Soviet republics and countries of the former Soviet bloc have long been considered among the heaviest-drinking places in the world. And in fact, a new World Health Organization report finds that nine of the 10 countries with the highest per-capita consumption — 13 liters or more of pure alcohol per year for everyone aged 15 and up — are former Soviet-bloc countries. (The exception: tiny Andorra, wedged between France and Spain.)

But even in those nations not everyone drinks. Indeed, when the analysis is restricted only to those people in a country who do drink, the consumption rankings change dramatically.

As the chart shows, Chad and the United Arab Emirates have by far the heaviest drinkers in the world, averaging respectively 33.9 and 32.8 liters of pure alcohol a year (or 71.8 and 70.9 grams a day) — even though there aren’t many drinkers in those countries. Russia falls from 4th (total per-capita) to 30th (drinkers only), just ahead of Belarus. As a rule, the biggest disparities between per-capita and drinkers-only consumption are in countries where there are legal prohibitions or strong religious or cultural taboos against alcohol use.

Topics: Health