In the first eight months of his pontificate, Pope Francis has impressed, charmed and inspired many people around the world with his outreach to non-Christians, his statements of concern for the poor and disabled, and his personal humility. At the same time, other Catholics have expressed dismay over the pope’s statements about homosexuality and his remarks that the church is “obsessed” with some social issues.
Some news accounts contend that the pope’s popularity has created a “Pope Francis effect,” producing a “significant global rise in church attendance,” based on reports by Catholic clergy in Italy, Britain and and other countries of a recent rise in Mass attendance.
In the United States, home to the world’s fourth-largest Catholic population, the pope appears to be well-liked by Catholics and non-Catholics alike, rated favorably by 79% of Catholics and 58% of the general public.
But has the pope’s popularity produced a Catholic resurgence in the U.S., where 10% of adults are former Catholics? Not so far, at least in terms of the share of Americans who identify as such, or the share of those who report attending Mass weekly.
A new analysis of pooled Pew Research surveys conducted between Francis’ election in March and the end of October this year finds that the percentage of Americans who identify as Catholics has remained the same – 22% — as it was during the corresponding seven-month period in 2012. In fact, our polls going back to 2007 show Catholic identification in the U.S. has held stable, fluctuating only between 22% and 23%.
Though Americans may report attending church more frequently than they actually do, our surveys find that self-reported levels of Mass attendance have remained virtually unchanged since the new pope was elected. Since April of this year, 39% of U.S. Catholics report attending Mass at least weekly, similar to the 40% attendance figure last year.
The 50th anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy has generated a barrage of television programming — so much so that the New York Times characterized the phenomenon as TV’s effort to recapture “a moment of rapt, uninterrupted and wholly unprecedented attention.”
Indeed, TV audience and survey data from the days immediately following Nov. 22, 1963 reinforce that description of what happened in American homes during that national trauma. The nation collectively tuned in to non-stop coverage that pioneered a new form of wall-to-wall television news delivery. Veteran CBS newsman Bob Schieffer told Reuters, “The Kennedy assassination became the template for coverage,” while Newseum official Patty Rhule called it the moment when “America became a TV nation.”
Nielsen, the leading provider of television audience data, measured the percentage of U.S. television homes with their sets on in the period from Nov. 22-25, 1963. And although the data do not allow for meaningful comparisons of that audience to today’s, the numbers reflect the degree to which U.S. citizens were riveted to post-assassination coverage.
- 45.4% of America’s homes with a television (a total of 51.3 million homes) had their sets turned on at 2:45 p.m. on Nov. 22, after White House confirmation of President Kennedy’s death. Read More →
How can you display the moving patterns of 7.1 million Americans without a map? Chris Walker, an independent data journalist and visualization blogger, came up with this compelling interactive graphic (even if it looks like a piece of spin-art at first).
Walker built his graphic using 2012 state-to-state migration estimates from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. If you go to the interactive version on his blog and hover over each state’s colored segment along the rim of the circle, you’ll see its overall in-migration and out-migration numbers and isolate its migration links with other states; states that gained or lost a lot of people, such as Florida or California, look like exploding fireworks. (Walker only charted links with at least 10,000 people moving between states. As he explains on his blog, “I had to set a cut-off for drawing a link between two states, because otherwise the whole graphic would look like a tangled hairball”).
The thickness of the lines reflects how many people moved between any two states. Hover over a single line to get the specific traffic figures: For instance, an estimated 53,009 New Yorkers moved to Florida last year, while only 27,392 Floridians moved to New York.
Despite their restless, rootless image, most Americans stay put in any given year, and those who move usually don’t go far. Last year, according to the ACS, 85% of Americans lived in the same place they did a year earlier; 12.2%, or 37.7 million, moved within the same state. Along with the 7.1 million (2.3%) who moved to a different state, 1.8 million (0.6%) moved overseas (including to Puerto Rico or other U.S. island territories).
The only thing Walker’s chart left us wishing for was a summary of which states gained and lost the most migrants. So using the same ACS dataset he did, we compiled these tables. Florida and Texas were by far the biggest gainers, each drawing more than 100,000 people more from other states than they lost to other states. New York was the biggest loser, with nearly 136,000 more people leaving the Empire State for some other state than moving there.
(Thanks to Wired magazine’s MapLab blog for leading us to Walker’s creation.)
Category: Chart of the Week
Less than one-third of Americans were of age to recall personal memories from the day JFK was shot.
Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was shot while riding in a motorcade through downtown Dallas. While news from the event rippled across America, it also seared into the American psyche. Today, virtually all Americans old enough to remember Nov. 22, 1963, still remember it vividly.
According to a September 2011 Pew Research survey, 95% of Americans born in 1955 or earlier said they could recall exactly where they were or what they were doing when Kennedy was killed. That compares with 81% of adults asked in 2011 who remember those details when Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011, and 72% when Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed in 1968, according to the same survey. The only other event that weighed on American consciousness to such an extent was the 9/11 terrorist attacks (97%). (Survey questions were filtered to people who were at least eight years of age at the time of each historical event.)
Yet, while memories of JFK’s assassination tend to linger in individuals, the number of people bearing those memories is inevitably declining. As of July 2012, 90.63 million people in the U.S. – or 28.9% of the total population – were of an age in 1963 to be able to retrieve a personal memory. (According to development psychologists, the typical age from which an adult can retrieve a personal memory is between 3 and 4 years old.)
JFK stands out among presidents, in part because he was a cultural phenomenon in his time and because he remains popular today. Asked how Kennedy will go down in history, 74% of Americans today said Kennedy will be remembered as an outstanding or above average president, the highest rating among the 11 most recent presidents.
Category: Daily Number
Topics: News Interest
Support for the new health care law took a beating in November – particularly among Democrats – during a period when many Americans paid close attention to the heavy news coverage of its problem-plagued rollout, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking poll released today.
Topics: Health Care
Among the casualties of the global financial crisis — along with millions of people’s homes, retirement nest eggs and general sense of personal economic security — has been public trust in national governments worldwide.
Between 2006-2008 and 2011-2012, confidence in government fell by at least six percentage points in 18 of the 34 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to Gallup data compiled in a new report, “Government at a Glance 2o13.” The steepest drop was in Ireland, where the share of people answering “yes” to the question “In this country, do you have confidence in each of the following, or not? How about national government?” tumbled from 63% in 2006 to 35% six years later.
On average, just 40% of people in OECD countries said they had confidence in their national governments, down from an average of 45% in 2007. Confidence levels ranged from 77% in Switzerland to 13% in Greece; in the U.S., confidence was 35%.
Public confidence in government was higher in the so-called BRIICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China and South Africa — averaging 54%, about the same as in 2007 (though there was no earlier reading for China). That was despite a 27-percentage-point fall in government confidence in India, from 82% to 55%.
Why is declining confidence in government important? Without a core level of public trust, the report said, governments have trouble carrying their basic functions, not to mention implementing sometimes-painful economic and fiscal reforms. In addition, people and businesses “can also become more risk-averse, delaying investment, innovation and employment decisions that are essential to regain competitiveness and jumpstart growth.”
While people in the OECD countries may have relatively low confidence in their national leaders, they generally have higher opinions of specific public services. In all but one (Mexico), for instance, at least half of people said they were satisfied with local police, according to the section of the report with country-specific details; the average satisfaction level was 72%.
On average, 71% of people in the surveyed countries said they were satisfied with their health care, 66% with the education system and 51% with the judiciary. Overall, the Swiss, Norwegians and Danes expressed the greatest satisfaction with their public services; the Greeks, Mexicans and Chileans the least.
Three entry-level enlisted women graduate today from the Marine Corps’ infantry training course, as military researches readiness of women for combat roles.
A graduation ceremony is being held today at the Marine Corps’ School of Infantry in Camp Geiger, N.C. for three enlisted women who are the first to complete the corps so-called “grunt” course. In January, the Pentagon lifted a longstanding ban on women in combat roles, and the performance of female service members in settings like the Marine Corps course is part of a still-ongoing evaluation about whether to integrate them into infantry units.
Category: Daily Number
In his 1961 inaugural address, John F. Kennedy declared that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.” He was referring to the fact that a 43-year-old was replacing a 70-year-old in the White House, but his words were meant to resonate as well with even younger Americans who were just coming of age. Five decades after Kennedy’s death, what happened to those torchbearers? It turns out they vote somewhat more Republican than the general electorate.
Pew Research has tracked vote preference among different age cohorts in the past several presidential and midterm elections and looked at who was president when each cohort turned 18. Does the person who is in the White House when people come of age affect their long-term political leanings? By looking at likely voters from our pre-election surveys, we can see how each age cohort voted relative to the national average.
Compared with the electorate overall, Americans who came of age during the presidencies of Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson offered more support for Mitt Romney in 2012, and more support for John McCain in 2008. (For reference, the Kennedy-Johnson era 18-year-olds were ages 62-69 during the 2012 election.) Read More →
Topics: Political Party Affiliation
About half of Americans believe the government has not gone far enough in regulating financial institutions, but a substantial segment of the public disagrees.
The record $13 billion settlement agreed to by JPMorgan Chase and the Justice Department on Tuesday brought back into the news the story of the sales of securities based on troubled mortgages by Chase and other financial institutions that led to the economic meltdown of 2008. But while those companies were blamed by many for the fiscal crisis, Americans have mixed feelings about how far government should go in regulating the industry.
A Pew Research Center survey conducted in September found that 49% of the public believed the government has not gone far enough in regulating financial institutions and the markets. Nearly as many (43%) believed the government had gone too far. The survey did not specify whether “regulation” meant congressional action, like the controversial Dodd-Frank law that was enacted in 2010 after the financial crisis, or enforcement actions such as the JPMorgan settlement, or both.
There is substantial disagreement between Democrats and Republicans on the question. (The Republican-controlled House voted last month to repeal a key provision of Dodd-Frank that prohibited banks from trading for their own gain). About two-thirds (64%) of Republicans said government regulation has gone too far compared with 62% of Democrats who said it had not gone far enough. Read More →
Category: Daily Number
States that allow same-sex marriage also provide protections for religious groups and clergy who oppose it
The battle over same-sex marriage has been about more than whether to allow gays and lesbians to wed. In every state where same-sex marriage is legal – including Illinois, which today became the 16th state to allow gays and lesbians to marry – politicians and others have also debated how to best protect religious freedom.
Indeed, each of the 12 states that have passed laws legalizing same-sex marriage also protects religious groups and clergy who do not want to solemnize or participate in same-sex weddings. And in the four states that have made gay marriage legal solely through court rulings rather than legislation, judges in all but one have prohibited the state from compelling religious groups to participate in or recognize such weddings.
But even without any of these state-level safeguards, legal scholars say clergy and religious groups are already protected by the U.S. Constitution, which provides religious organizations a significant degree of freedom in deciding how, and for whom, to provide their religious services. Read More →
Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality