Nov 7, 2014 11:44 am

Why can’t we all get along? Challenges ahead for bipartisan cooperation

President Obama and soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hold their first post-election meeting on Friday.
(Obama photo via AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin; McConnell via AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

President Obama today sits down with Republican leaders after their big Election Day victories handed them control of the Senate and more seats in the House. Both Obama and soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed hope that the two parties would find a way to work together to get things done in Obama’s last two years.

Both leaders mentioned international trade deals, tax reform and budget policy as areas of potential agreement, but there remain big gaps between both parties on key issues that are higher on the list of the public’s concerns. And in addition to the partisan divide, Republicans, in particular, face sharp differences in their own ranks on several issues.

Here’s the lay of the land: Read More

Topics: Energy and Environment, Globalization and Trade, Health Care, Immigration, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Party Affiliation, Political Polarization, Political Typology, Taxes, Unauthorized Immigration

Nov 7, 2014 9:00 am

At APEC: Americans, Japanese are most skeptical that trade leads to more jobs

APEC nations views of tradePresident Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meet in Beijing this weekend at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to promote free trade and economic integration. But, back home, they may have some explaining to do.

Among the 21 Pacific Rim leaders attending, they represent the publics that are most skeptical of the benefits of both trade and foreign investment, according to a Pew Research Center survey of 13 of the APEC nations. Read More

Topics: Globalization and Trade, International Governments and Institutions, World Economies

Nov 7, 2014 6:00 am

Inequality, joblessness are top threats in 2015, World Economic Forum experts say

FT_WEF-top-trends

Growing economic inequality, increasing joblessness, global pollution and severe weather events are among the world’s most pressing threats, according to a report released today by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Councils, which surveyed 1,767 leaders from academia, business, government and non-profits. Read More

Topics: Income Inequality

Nov 6, 2014 9:30 am

The number of U.S. Catholics has grown, so why are there fewer parishes?

The recent decision by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York to effectively close dozens of churches in the coming months falls in line with a larger nationwide trend of Catholic parish closures.

The number of Catholic parishes is on the decline.The downsizing in New York was described by The New York Times as the largest reorganization in the diocese’s history. The archdiocese, which stretches from Staten Island, Manhattan and the Bronx through the seven suburban counties in the state that are immediately north of New York City, will merge 112 of its parishes into 55 new parishes.

In 1988, there were 19,705 parishes in the U.S., while there are now 17,483, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University.

The current number of parishes is about equal to the number that existed in 1965, even as the number of self-identified U.S. Catholics has risen in the past half-century, from 48.5 million to 76.7 million between 1965 and 2014, according to CARA’s data.

Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism

Nov 6, 2014 7:00 am

East Germans now as satisfied with life as West Germans

Twenty five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, views of East and West Germans are not seamless, but on the most basic of questions – life satisfaction – residents of the former German Democratic Republic express as much happiness with their lives as do West Germans. That is far different than the way things were back in the days immediately following the collapse of communism.

Life satisfaction in former Communist countries like East Germany has improved.

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Topics: Eastern Europe, Western Europe, World Economies

Nov 5, 2014 2:03 pm

Making more than minimum wage, but less than $10.10 an hour

FT_14.10.17_lowWageVoters in four states easily approved ballot initiatives to raise their minimum wages on Tuesday, further evidence of strong public support for the idea that the current federal minimum of $7.25 an hour isn’t enough for today’s workers. The votes in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota mean that by Jan. 1, 29 of the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) will have higher minimums than the federal standard.

President Obama and many Democrats have pushed for raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, although efforts in Congress to do that fizzled this summer. And with Republicans, who generally oppose raising the minimum wage, winning control of the Senate and expanding their House majority yesterday, it’s unlikely that any new effort in Congress will get very far. Read More

Topics: Work and Employment

Nov 5, 2014 12:44 pm

As GOP celebrates win, no sign of narrowing gender, age gaps

2014 Midterm Exit Poll, GenderYesterday’s elections brought a widespread win for the Republican Party, which will increase its share of seats in the House in the next Congress, and take over the Senate, with a net gain of at least seven seats.

Nationally, 52% of voters backed Republican candidates for Congress, while 47% voted for Democrats, according to exit polls by the National Election Pool, as reported by The New York Times. The overall vote share is similar to the GOP’s margin in the 2010 elections, and many of the key demographic divides seen in that election — particularly wide gender and age gaps — remain.

Men favored Republicans by a 16-point margin (57% voted for the GOP, 41% for Democrats) yesterday, while women voted for Democratic candidates by a four-point margin (51% to 47%). This gender gap is at least as large as in 2010: In that election men voted for Republicans by a 14-point margin while women were nearly evenly split, opting for GOP candidates by a one-point margin. Read More

Topics: 2014 Election, Election News, Gender, Generations and Age

Nov 5, 2014 11:10 am

6 facts about marijuana

Attitudes about marijuana have undergone a rapid shift in public opinion, paralleled by few other trends in the U.S. Our recent data, along with historical figures from Gallup and the General Social Survey, reveal how views have shifted about the drug over time. Earlier this year, our survey found that many more Americans now favor shifting the focus of the nation’s overall drug policy. Here are six key facts about public opinion and marijuana:

1Support for marijuana legalization is rapidly outpacing oppositionA slim majority (52%) of Americans say the drug should be made legal, compared with 45% who want it to be illegal. Opinions have changed drastically since 1969, when Gallup first asked the question and found that just 12% favored legalizing marijuana use. Much of the change in opinion has occurred over the past few years — support rose 11 points between 2010 and 2013 (although it has remained unchanged in the past year). Separately, 76% in our February survey said people convicted of minor possession should not serve time in jail. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Domestic Affairs and Policy, Drugs

Nov 4, 2014 3:52 pm

Why measuring the demographics of voters on Election Day is difficult

One of the big questions about any election, including this year’s midterm, is who turned out to vote and who did not. Pollsters, journalists and politicians carefully want to examine the racial and ethnic demographics of the electorate. For example, how many Latinos voted? How many blacks and whites voted, and how do those shares compare with turnout in previous elections?

These questions aren’t easy to answer because the two primary sources that provide insight into voter demographics — the National Election Pool’s Exit Poll and the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey — use different methodologies, are released at different times, and often produce slightly different results. Read More

Topics: 2014 Election, Hispanic/Latino Vote

Nov 4, 2014 11:12 am

No matter how tight the race, midterm voter turnout likely to remain lackluster

For all of the money spent on this year’s midterm elections — $3.67 billion, according to the Center for Responsive Politics — less than half of eligible voters will actually cast ballots in the nation’s 435 House districts, if history is any guide.

House Election TurnoutPolitical scientists (and practical politicians) long have recognized that voter turnout surges in presidential election years and falls off in midterm elections. In the 2008 presidential election, for example, nearly 59% of estimated eligible voters voted in that year’s House elections. Two years later for the midterms, only about 41% of eligible voters went to the polls. (We estimated eligible voters in each district from 2006 through 2012 using data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, and obtained vote totals for every House race from the House Clerk’s office. Our analysis excluded a handful of races in which unopposed candidates weren’t listed on the ballot.)

You might think there’d be some relationship between how competitive a given election is and turnout. A race where victory could go either way might spur more interest and rev up get-out-the-vote efforts from both sides; a race where one candidate is a prohibitive favorite could lead many people to conclude there’s no point in heading out to vote. But our analysis shows little, if any, correlation between a House election’s competitiveness (measured by the winner’s victory margin) and turnout. Read More

Topics: 2014 Election, Congress