Oct 21, 2014 7:00 am

Q/A: How Pew Research analyzed America’s polarized media consumption habits

Amy Mitchell, Director of Journalism Research, Pew Research Center

America’s widening ideological divisions are showing up in more and more aspects of American life — from how likely people are to vote to where they want to live and what they want their children taught. And, as the latest report in the Pew Research Center’s year-long series on polarization makes clear, politics heavily influences people’s media habits as well: Americans on either end of the ideological spectrum get their news from very different sources.

We asked Amy Mitchell, the center’s Director of Journalism Research, to discuss how the new report was put together. Read More

Topics: News Audience Trends and Attitudes, News Media Sectors, Political Typology, Research Methodology

Oct 20, 2014 4:20 pm

Debate over inequality highlights sharp partisan divisions on the issue

Some of the most contentious issues in American politics are the growing gap between rich and poor, the cause of such inequality and what to do about it. Republicans and Democrats have sharply differing views on the topic. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen put inequality back in the news last week when she addressed the subject in a speech.

FT_GOP_PoorNot quite half (46%) of the American public sees the gap between the rich and the poor in the United States as a very big problem for the country, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Another 32% regard it as a moderately big problem, while 20% say it’s a small problem or no problem at all.

But those overall numbers mask an ideological divide. Fully 59% of Democrats voice the view that inequality is a major national economic challenge, as do 49% of independents. But only 19% of Republicans agree.

Read More

Topics: Economic Policy, Economics and Personal Finances, Income Inequality, Socioeconomic Class

Oct 16, 2014 12:01 pm

What is the greatest threat to the world? Depends on where you live

2014 has been a tumultuous year in international affairs. From the conflict in Ukraine, to horrific bloodshed in Syria and Iraq, the spreading Ebola epidemic in West Africa and continued weakness in the European economy, numerous world crises have given people plenty to be worried about.

In spring of this year, even before many of these headline events took place, we surveyed people in 44 countries and asked about the greatest threat to the world. Here are 5 key takeaways from the new report:

1 Infectious disease, AIDS, top concerns in Sub-Saharan Africa

Africans Fear AIDS and DiseasePrior to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa becoming a high-profile international story, a median of 29% across the seven African nations polled feared infectious disease as the top danger. Many of these countries have high prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS and have suffered through multiple disease epidemics in the last decade. However, other problems also worry Africans. In Nigeria, where religious strife is exacerbated by the Boko Haram terrorist group, more say religious and ethnic hatred is the world’s greatest threat (38%). Read More

Topics: Energy and Environment, Health, International Threats and Allies, Nuclear Threats, Religion and Society

Oct 16, 2014 7:00 am

Young U.S. Catholics overwhelmingly accepting of homosexuality

Younger US Catholics more accepting of homosexualityThe Roman Catholic Church signaled a more accepting stance toward gay people in a report bishops released during the Vatican’s synod on the family this week. While reaffirming the church’s opposition to same-sex marriage, the report said that “homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community” and asked if the church is capable of “welcoming these people.”

The new document follows Pope Francis’ more inclusive language regarding homosexuality and has been praised by gay rights groups for its “dramatic new tone.” The report also moves the church toward a position on homosexuality already embraced by a majority of American Catholics, particularly younger adults.

Fully 85% of self-identified Catholics ages 18-29 said in a 2014 Pew Research Center survey that homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared with just 13% who said it should be discouraged. Older age groups are less likely to favor acceptance. But even among Catholics ages 65 and older, 57% say that homosexuality should be accepted.

Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality

Oct 15, 2014 3:27 pm

Romney (again) in 2016? That would be unusual, but not unprecedented


After first denying he would seek the presidency again, then hinting he was still interested, Mitt Romney now has begun reassembling his campaign team for an “almost certain” third presidential bid.

But if Romney — who, you’ll recall, lost the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and then won it four years later, only to lose in the general election to Barack Obama — does decide to make yet another run, he would be challenging more than just Bush, Chris Christie, Rand Paul and the host of other Republicans eyeballing 2016. As Fact Tank first wrote back in October, Romney also would need to overcome the weight of history: In the U.S., the two major political parties seldom give their failed presidential nominees another shot at the brass ring.

Read More

Topics: Elections and Campaigns

Oct 15, 2014 7:00 am

Gay marriage arrives in the South, where the public is less enthused

Regional Support, Gay Marriage 2014The Supreme Court’s recent decision not to take up several same-sex marriage cases has led to several more states legalizing gay marriage. And for the first time, much of this expansion of same-sex marriage is occurring in the South – including Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina – where public support for allowing gays and lesbians to wed is not as great as in other regions.

Nationwide, 52% of Americans now support gay marriage. In the South, aggregated Pew Research Center polls from 2014 have found that 44% of people support gay marriage – well below the East (61%), West (58%) and Midwest (52%).

Our polling data can be further analyzed by dividing each of the four major regions into smaller subregions. For example, in the South Atlantic region – which comprises Florida and Georgia as well as North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, four states that either recently legalized gay marriage or are likely to do so soon – respondents in 2014 are divided over same-sex marriage, with 45% in favor and 46% opposed.

Read More

Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality

Oct 14, 2014 7:00 am

Media coverage of the 2016 presidential race heats up

2016 Candidates in the NewsHillary Clinton and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have received more media coverage than other potential presidential candidates, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of top U.S. newspapers. A search of 15 of the top papers in LexisNexis found that from Jan. 1-Sept. 27, 2014, Christie and Clinton were each the subject of 82 campaign stories linking them to a possible White House run. In 2013, Clinton also topped our list, with 66 stories.

Amid recent speculation that Mitt Romney was considering a possible third run at the executive office, the former Massachusetts governor comes in third with 74 campaign stories. Following Romney is Texas Senator Ted Cruz (68), Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (67) and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (53).

Overall, more stories have talked about potential GOP candidates (202) than Democratic ones (115). There are 11 individual Republicans that have been mentioned in at least 20 stories. The only Democrat other than Clinton to match this attention is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, with 22 stories. (But that’s still one-fourth the amount of coverage that Clinton received.) Even Vice President Joe Biden, who has hinted that he would be interested in running, was only mentioned in 18 campaign stories.

Although we’re still two years out from the presidential race, there’s more coverage this time around than in previous election cycles. In the first nine months of the year, there have been 541 newspaper stories written about the 2016 presidential campaign. That is double the number of stories (271) the 2012 campaign generated during the same time period in 2010.  Read More

Topics: Elections and Campaigns, News Content Analysis

Oct 10, 2014 11:46 am

Most Pakistanis agree with Malala on educating girls

Credit: Getty Images

Malala Yousafzai’s courageous advocacy for girls’ education has inspired people across the globe, and today she was awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. As a student at the school her father ran in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, Malala became a well-known champion for educating girls. And ultimately, she also became a target for the Taliban, who violently oppose schooling for girls. A Taliban gunman shot Malala in October 2012, but today, at age 17, she has recovered from her injuries and now lives in Birmingham, England.  Read More

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Education, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Religious Extremism

Oct 10, 2014 9:54 am

China’s government may be communist, but its people embrace capitalism

While China’s government may be officially communist, the Chinese people express widespread support for capitalism. Roughly three-quarters of the Chinese (76%) agree that most people are better off in a free market economy. And since 2002, the Chinese have consistently been one of the strongest proponents of capitalism compared with other publics around the world, even more so than Americans and Western Europeans.

Most people are better off in a free market economy, even though some people are rich and some are poor.The past 30 years have brought enormous changes to the Chinese economy. In the late 1970s, the government started opening the economy to foreign investment and privatization. With these changes came sky-high economic growth – an average of 10% since 1980. And on Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released figures estimating that China is now the biggest economy in the world, surpassing the United States, though this achievement is up for debate.

China’s incredible economic expansion has led the Chinese to be overwhelmingly happy with their economic situation and optimistic about their future, according to a 2014 survey conducted there by the Pew Research Center. But our polling has also shown an undercurrent of unease with conditions in China today, as many complain about inflation, inequality and corruption. Read More

Topics: China, World Economies

Oct 9, 2014 11:40 am

Cutbacks at CNN highlight the cable news paradox

CNN cable news TV audience falls, digital audience growsTo some, the news this week that CNN Worldwide is cutting 8.5% of its workforce at the same time that it is enjoying a healthy, double-digit profit margin might seem confusing. The original – and largest – 24-hour news channel is in many ways faring just fine financially.

But a closer look at CNN reveals a larger problem, with cable news business struggling to find its feet in a shifting media landscape where its audience is not matching up with revenue trends. In terms of TV viewership, cable news peaked as a medium around the 2008 presidential election and, while showing impressive potential in digital, the business model is uncertain. Read More

Topics: Digital Media, News Media Trends, Television