Feb 20, 2015 7:00 am

Among LGBT Americans, bisexuals stand out when it comes to identity, acceptance

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.

Bisexuals Less Likely to Say Sexual Orientation is Important to Their IdentityCompared 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

Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Gender

Feb 19, 2015 3:35 pm

Are Americans ready for Obama’s ‘middle class’ populism?

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.

Does Hard Work Lead to Success?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

Topics: Income Inequality, Middle Class, Poverty

Feb 19, 2015 7:00 am

The skills Americans say kids need to succeed in life

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.

What Skills Kids Need to SucceedPew 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

Topics: Education, Teens and Youth

Feb 18, 2015 12:10 pm

European Millennials more likely than older generations to view China favorably

European Millennials See China More Favorably than Elders

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

Topics: China, Europe, Generations and Age, Millennials

Feb 16, 2015 7:00 am

Presidential job approval ratings from Ike to Obama

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.

Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Political Polarization, Presidential Approval, U.S. Political Figures

Feb 13, 2015 10:18 am

National Academies: Census survey data should be more user-friendly


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

Topics: Federal Government, Population Trends, U.S. Census

Feb 13, 2015 7:00 am

From telegrams to Instagram, a look at presidents and technology

Obama selfie stick Buzzfeed
Buzzfeed captured President Obama with a selfie stick, a gif they promoted with the online site’s sit-down interview with him.

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

Topics: Politics Online, Social Media, Television

Feb 12, 2015 2:30 pm

Almost all U.S. presidents have been Christians

Nearly half of all U.S. presidents are Episcopalian or Presbyterian

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.

Read More

Topics: Religion and Government, Religion and U.S. Politics, Religious Affiliation

Feb 12, 2015 1:27 pm

America’s news anchors are less recognizable now, but network news is still alive

NBC’s suspension of anchor Brian Williams from the helm of its flagship evening news program has led to some debate about the future for network television news.

Pew Research Center’s surveys have found that national recognition for America’s top news anchors isn’t what it used to be. Just 27% of Americans recognized a photo of Brian Williams and correctly identified him in 2013 – a far cry from the 47% of Americans who could correctly identify Dan Rather in a 1985 poll.

A poll last fall found NBC News among the most trusted news brands in the country. Half said they trusted NBC News, according to a Pew Research Center survey. That ranked NBC among the highest of 36 news organizations we asked about, on par with ABC News (50%) and CBS News (46%) as well as CNN (54%) and Fox News (44%).

While evening news audiences have been steadily declining for some time, they remain a major source for news for many Americans. And NBC Nightly News attracts a middle-aged audience that is roughly the same as that of the major cable networks.

Here are 5 facts about NBC and network television and their place in the media landscape.
Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: News Media Sectors, News Sources, State of the News Media, Television

Feb 12, 2015 11:23 am

5 facts about online video, for YouTube’s 10th birthday

On Valentine’s Day 10 years ago, a group of former PayPal employees founded YouTube as an easy way to find and share videos. Today it’s one of the most visited websites in the world and is widely used by news organizations, politicians and music artists. (Psy’s Gangnam Style has over 2 billion views, making it the most watched YouTube video of all time.)

Besides big brands, some regular users have amassed a large following. Recently, a trio of YouTube content creators interviewed President Barack Obama on his policy goals. Overall, the video-sharing firm says that 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

On the company’s 10th birthday, here are 5 facts about YouTube and online video sharing: Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Internet Activities, Online Video, Social Media