Jan 26, 2017 2:04 pm

Many ‘password challenged’ internet users don’t take steps that could protect their data

In today’s digitally connected world, where accessing medical records, ordering groceries and paying taxes can all be done online, many internet users find it daunting to keep up with all the various passwords associated with their online accounts. One consequence is that a significant minority of users settle for less secure passwords they can more easily remember.

A new Pew Research Center report finds that 39% of online adults report having a hard time keeping track of their passwords. Compared with the 60% of online adults who do not express difficulties keeping up with their passwords, this “password challenged” group also tends to be more worried over the safety and security of their passwords.

Those who do find password management difficult are twice as likely as those who do not to report worrying about the security of their passwords (44% vs. 22%).  Read More

Topics: Generations and Age, Digital Divide, Online Privacy and Safety

Jan 26, 2017 12:26 pm

Americans divided in views of use of torture in U.S. anti-terror efforts

As Donald Trump’s administration reviews U.S. policies on the detainment and interrogation of terrorism suspects, the public is divided over whether it is ever acceptable for the country to use torture in anti-terror efforts.

Overall, 48% say there are some circumstances under which the use of torture is acceptable in U.S. anti-terrorism efforts; about as many (49%) say there are no circumstances under which the use of torture is acceptable.

Trump has said he personally believes torture works, but that he will confer with his Cabinet before considering any changes to U.S. policy. The use of torture by the military and all other government agencies is currently banned under U.S. law.

The national survey of 4,265 adults conducted just before the presidential election (Oct. 25-Nov. 8) on Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel finds wide demographic and political differences in views of torture.

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Topics: Terrorism, U.S. Political Parties, Political Attitudes and Values, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Political Issue Priorities, Political Polarization

Jan 25, 2017 11:11 am

Most officers say the media treat police unfairly

Most U.S. police officers see significant challenges on the job in the wake of high-profile incidents involving law enforcement and black citizens. Among those challenges is a widespread feeling among officers that police are mistreated by the media, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey conducted by the National Police Research Platform.

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Topics: Work and Employment, Race and Ethnicity, Criminal Justice, News Media Trends, News Media Ethics and Practices, Social Values, Violence and Society

Jan 24, 2017 1:51 pm

Europeans favoring right-wing populist parties are more positive on Putin

Although confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s leadership is low across Western Europe, those who favor right-wing populist parties are significantly more likely than those who do not to express confidence in Putin, as well as to prefer to move past disputes over Russia’s foreign policy in favor of a strong economic relationship, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in spring 2016.

This trend comes at a time when the U.S. is engaged in its own debate about its stance toward Russia and Putin. A recent Pew Research Center report found that Democrats are significantly more negative toward Russia’s president than are Republicans, though majorities of both parties view Putin negatively.

Debate over national identity and the specter of Russian interference loom over Europe as people in France, Germany and the Netherlands head to the polls this year. Read More

Topics: Europe, Western Europe, Non-U.S. Political Leaders, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Foreign News, Russia

Jan 24, 2017 11:10 am

115th Congress sets new high for racial, ethnic diversity

Incoming members of Congress walk down the steps of the House of Representatives after posing for a group photograph Nov. 15, 2016. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Incoming members of Congress walk down the steps of the House of Representatives after posing for a group photograph Nov. 15, 2016. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Almost one-in-five voting members of the House and Senate are a racial or ethnic minority, making the 115th U.S. Congress the most diverse in history. And while Congress as a whole remains  disproportionately white when compared with the U.S. population, the racial and ethnic profile of newly elected members more closely resembles the increasingly diverse populace, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.

Overall, nonwhites (including blacks, Hispanics, Asians/Pacific Islanders and Native Americans) make up 19% of the current Congress. By comparison, nonwhite Hispanics and other racial minorities make up 38% of the nation’s population.

Minorities, however, account for 20 of 59 new members (34%) of the House and Senate. This represents a notable jump over the 114th Congress, when just 11 of 71 new members (15%) were a racial or ethnic minority and the Senate had no newly elected minority members. This year, three freshman senators are a racial or ethnic minority, along with 17 new members of the House.  Read More

Topics: Demographics, U.S. Political Parties, Race and Ethnicity, Federal Government, Asian Americans, 2016 Election

Jan 23, 2017 3:50 pm

Obama issued fewer executive orders on average than any president since Cleveland

Obama signs an executive order in the Oval Office in March 2015. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Barack Obama averaged fewer executive orders per year in office than any U.S. president in 120 years. The executive orders he did issue, however, face an uncertain future under President Donald Trump, who has characterized some of Obama’s orders as “illegal and overreaching.”

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Topics: Barack Obama, Domestic Affairs and Policy, U.S. Political Figures

Jan 23, 2017 12:00 pm

Police, public differ on key issues but align on others

On issues ranging from an assault rifle ban to racial progress in the U.S., the public and the police stand on opposite sides of a wide attitudinal divide. At the same time, majorities of police officers and the public favor the use of body cameras, favor relaxing some restrictions on marijuana, and believe that long-standing bias against police was at least some of the motivation for the protests that followed many of the deaths of blacks during encounters with police in recent years.

The contrasting views and notable similarities between the attitudes of police and the public emerge from two Pew Research Center surveys. One was of 7,917 sworn police officers from departments with at least 100 officers conducted online last May to August by the National Police Research Platform, and the other was of 4,538 adults conducted by mail and online last August to September. The surveys included a number of identically worded questions, which allowed for direct comparisons of the views of officers and the public on a range of issues.

Among the more striking takeaways from these surveys was the very different way the police and the public view the deaths of blacks during encounters with police. Two-thirds of officers (67%) view these fatal encounters as isolated incidents, a view shared by only about four-in-ten Americans (39%).

The public and police diverge on a range of other issues, sometimes by even larger margins. For example, when it comes to the work police do day in and day out, 83% of Americans say they understand the risks and challenges that police face. Roughly the same share of police (86%), in a similarly worded question, say they believe the public does not understand the risks officers face on the job. This is among the largest gaps between police and the public found in these surveys. One example of this disconnect: More than eight-in-ten Americans (83%) believe the typical officer has fired his or her weapon at least once in their career. By contrast, about a quarter (27%) of officers say they have done so.
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Topics: Work and Employment, Criminal Justice, Social Values, Violence and Society

Jan 23, 2017 6:55 am

Two-thirds of Americans give priority to developing alternative energy over fossil fuels

President Donald Trump is promising major changes on climate and energy policy, including efforts to increase production from fossil fuel energy sources such as coal. But a new Pew Research Center survey finds that 65% of Americans give priority to developing alternative energy sources, compared with 27% who would emphasize expanded production of fossil fuel sources.

Support for concentrating on alternative energy is up slightly since December 2014. At that time, 60% said developing alternative energy sources was the more important priority.

There continue to be wide political differences on energy priorities. While a 2016 Pew Research Center survey found large majorities of Democrats and Republicans supported expanding both wind and solar energy, the new survey shows that Democrats remain far more likely than Republicans to stress that developing alternative energy should take priority over developing fossil fuel sources.

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Topics: Energy and Environment, U.S. Political Parties, Domestic Affairs and Policy, Political Polarization

Jan 20, 2017 2:39 pm

Obama used clemency power more often than any president since Truman

Barack Obama ended his presidency having granted clemency to more people convicted of federal crimes than any chief executive in 64 years. But he also received far more requests for clemency than any U.S. president on record, largely as a result of an initiative set up by his administration to shorten prison terms for nonviolent federal inmates convicted of drug crimes.

Overall, Obama granted clemency to 1,927 individuals, a figure that includes 1,715 commutations and 212 pardons. That’s the highest total for any president since Harry S. Truman, who granted clemency 2,044 times – including 1,913 pardons, 118 commutations and 13 remissions – during his nearly eight years in office, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Department of Justice statistics.

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Topics: Barack Obama, Religion and U.S. Politics, Criminal Justice, U.S. Political Figures, Death Penalty

Jan 20, 2017 12:07 pm

Almost all U.S. presidents, including Trump, have been Christians

The U.S. Constitution famously prohibits any religious test or requirement for public office. Still, almost all of the nation’s presidents have been Christians and many have been Episcopalians or Presbyterians, with most of the rest belonging to other prominent Protestant denominations.

The nation’s new president, Donald Trump, certainly fits this pattern. Trump is the nation’s ninth chief executive to be affiliated with a Presbyterian church. Presbyterianism has its roots in England and Scotland and has been active in North America since the 17th century.  Read More

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