Jul 10, 2014 10:01 am

5 key takeaways from our census of statehouse reporters

Many important public policy debates are centered in the nation’s state capitols—particularly with gridlock often gripping the U.S. Congress. In fact, nearly half of the state legislatures (24) enacted more laws in 2012 alone than Congress did in 2011 and 2012 combined.

To inform citizens about what is happening in America’s 50 statehouses, there are currently 1,592 journalists assigned to cover their workings, according to a Pew Research report published today that provides a first-ever detailed accounting of the statehouse press corps. After years of cutbacks in the legacy news industry, the shape of that press corps is shifting as nontraditional media outlets try to fill the gap. Here are five key takeaways about who is watching state governments today:

The number of newspaper statehouse reporters has declined 35% since 2003.1Newspapers have more journalists in statehouses than other media do, accounting for 43% of the full-time reporters. But those ranks have been thinning. An examination of comparable newspaper data from 2003 to 2014 finds that the number of full-time statehouse reporters dropped by 35% between 2003 and 2014—a loss of 164 jobs. A number of observers say this has led to diminished coverage.

2Some reporting losses in statehouse news coverage have been made up for by nontraditional players. In total, 126 full-time statehouse reporters work for nontraditional news outlets, which include nonprofit and commercial digital news organizations, ideological outlets and government insider publications that can charge steep subscription fees. This nontraditional sector accounts for 17% of all full-time statehouse reporters in the U.S. In seven states—Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Vermont—the outlet with the largest number of full-time statehouse reporters is one of these nontraditional organizations.  Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Local News, News Media Sectors, Newspapers

Jul 9, 2014 4:28 pm

Americans, especially young adults, back strong economic ties with China

FT_14.07.09_usChina

As leaders from the U.S. and China meet this week in Beijing to discuss a range of economic and political issues, Americans are more likely to support stronger economic ties with China than a tougher approach.

About half of Americans (51%) say it is more important to build a stronger relationship with China on economic issues, while 41% say it is more important to get tougher with China, according to a poll conducted Feb. 12-26 among 3,337 adults. This data was released in the Pew Research Center’s political typology study on June 26. Read More

Topics: China, Foreign Affairs and Policy

Jul 9, 2014 3:40 pm

The politics of American generations: How age affects attitudes and voting behavior

typology_age

The notion that age and political ideology are related goes back at least to French monarchist statesman François Guizot, who originated the oft-mangled quotation, “Not to be a republican at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head.” But data from the Pew Research Center’s new political typology report indicate that, while different age cohorts do have markedly different profiles, the relationship is considerably more complex than young=liberal and old=conservative.

The report, based on a survey of more than 10,000 Americans, finds that among the oldest Americans (those ages 65 and up), nearly two-thirds are at opposite ends of the typology. 32% fall into the two strongest Republican-oriented groups (what we call Steadfast Conservatives and Business Conservatives) and 33% are either Solid Liberals or Faith and Family Left, the two strongest Democratic-aligned groups. (Steadfast and Business Conservatives are separated mainly by the latter’s more Wall Street orientation, while the Faith and Family Left tend to be more conservative on social issues than Solid Liberals.)

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Topics: Demographics, Political Typology

Jul 8, 2014 3:28 pm

A view of the future through kindergarten demographics

Today’s kindergartners offer a glimpse of tomorrow’s demographics. A new data analysis by Pew Research Center finds a big increase over the past decade in the number of states where at least one-in-five public school kindergartners are Latino.

There are 17 states where Latino children comprise at least 20% of the public school kindergarten population, according to our analysis of 2012 Census Bureau data. By comparison, just eight states had such a composition a decade earlier, in 2000.
Hispanic Kindergartners in America

At 54 million, Hispanics are the largest minority group. They make up 17% of the nation’s population, and have dispersed across the nation. The states where at least one-in-five kindergartners are Hispanic include some states with historically few Hispanic immigrants, such as Nebraska, Idaho and Washington. In Kansas and Oregon, fully one-in-four kindergartners are Hispanic, the same share as in New York, which has the fourth-largest Hispanic population in the country.   Read More

Topics: Education, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Population Geography, Population Projections, Population Trends

Jul 8, 2014 9:39 am

Public libraries and the quiz-takers who love them

The Pew Research Center recently released a library user quiz (“What kind of library user are you?”) based on the nationally representative telephone survey findings in our report, “From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers–and beyond: A typology of public library engagement in America.”

"Library Lovers" make up 10% of the population, according to a Pew Research Center survey.Much like our political typology, the library engagement typology sorts Americans ages 16 and older into different groups based on their habits and attitudes—in this case, based on how they use public libraries and perceive libraries’ importance in their communities. The quiz, which has been taken over 15,000 times, is a fun (and non-scientific) way for our website visitors and various community groups to compare their library habits to those of the general population.

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Topics: Libraries

Jul 8, 2014 7:00 am

CDC: Two of every five U.S. households have only wireless phones

wirelessOnlyMore Americans than ever have cut the (telephone) cord, but the growth rate of wireless-only households slowed last year.

About two-in-five (41%) of U.S. households had only wireless phones in the second half of 2013, according to a report released today by the National Center for Health Statistics. The center, the statistical arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimated that 39.1% of adults and 47.1% of children lived in wireless-only households.

The share of wireless-only households was 2.8 percentage points higher than the same period in 2012. That’s slower than in previous years. In 2010, the wireless-only share grew by 5.2 percentage points; 4.3 percentage points in 2011; and 4.2 percentage points in 2012. Read More

Topics: Mobile, Technology Adoption

Jul 7, 2014 12:45 pm

What is a ‘closely held corporation,’ anyway, and how many are there?

Hobby Lobby is one of the plaintiffs in a Supreme Court case challenging a requirement in the health care law to provide coverage for contraception services.
Credit: Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

In last week’s Hobby Lobby decision, Justice Samuel Alito held that the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate violated the rights of “for-profit, closely held corporations” under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA. Which left a lot of people, including us, wondering: Just what did Alito mean by a “closely held” corporation, and how many such businesses (and their employees) might be affected by his ruling?

In general, a closely held corporation is one with only a limited number of shareholders. By definition, they are private companies, meaning their shares don’t trade publicly. Alito didn’t specify how many shareholders a company could have in order to assert a RFRA claim, noting only that Hobby Lobby and the other companies in the case were “owned and controlled by members of a single family.” Different government agencies, though, have their own rules regarding corporations with relatively few shareholders. Read More

Topics: Religion and Government

Jul 7, 2014 10:22 am

For gay newlyweds in some states, ‘limbo’ may last another year

FT_14.07.07_SSMlegalIt has happened in four states so far, and may well happen in others – a kind of marital limbo where licenses have been granted and vows exchanged, but the marriages themselves have not been officially recognized.

The most recent instance occurred June 25 in Indiana, where hundreds of same-sex couples married during a brief two-day window created after a federal district court struck down the Hoosier State’s gay marriage ban, and before an appeals court put that ruling on hold. The Indiana newlyweds now join thousands of other similarly situated same-sex couples from Michigan, Utah and Wisconsin.

Supporters argue that marriages conducted while same-sex marriage was legal – even if only for a few days – are valid and should be recognized. But so far, most state officials have refused to recognize the marriages, citing ongoing court proceedings. In Indiana, for instance, the attorney general’s office stated that the status of same-sex marriage licenses issued during the two-day window is currently “undetermined.”

Read More

Topics: Church-State Law, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality

Jul 7, 2014 7:00 am

1-in-10 Americans don’t give a hoot about politics

Profile of Political BystandersAs Republicans and Democrats gear up for midterm elections this November, there’s one group of Americans that is paying very little, if any, attention to the whole ordeal.

Overall, 10% of Americans are what we call Bystanders, or the politically disengaged, according to Pew Research Center’s Political Typology report. None of this cohort say they’re registered to vote, and none say they follow government and public affairs most of the time (this compares with 48% of Americans overall). Virtually all of this group (96%) say they’ve never contributed money to a candidate running for public office.

In our typology, we categorized Americans into eight groups–among them, Solid Liberals and Steadfast Conservatives–using 23 questions about a wide range of political values. Most of the analysis is focused on seven main groups in the political typology that are defined by these political values. But the Bystanders, defined by their lack of political engagement, give a glimpse of the views of those on the political sidelines. (Note: For that reason, it is not possible in our online quiz to be categorized as a Bystander.)  Read More

Topics: Political Attitudes and Values, Political Typology

Jul 3, 2014 3:02 pm

Chart of the Week: How the Supreme Court justices line up

supremes

Now that the Supreme Court has finished its 2013-14 term, legal scholars and court watchers have another 67 decisions (in argued cases) to analyze and refine their models of how the Court works. One development was noted by several commentators: Despite the oft-described ideological and jurisprudential divisions among the justices, they agree a lot more often than they disagree.

The chart above, from The New York Times, shows how often each justice has sided with every other justice in the 280 decisions issued since 2010 (the Court’s lineup has been stable since Elena Kagan joined it in 2010). The highest agreement rates, as might be expected, are between justices appointed by the same President: Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, 94% (both appointed by Obama) and John Roberts and Samuel Alito, 93% (both appointed by George W. Bush). But even the two most disparate justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas, have been on the same side nearly two-thirds of the time.

That has much to do with the large number of unanimous decisions the Court has issued. Two-thirds of this past term’s decisions, the Times notes, were 9-0 — the highest percentage since at least 1953 — including ones on abortion-clinic protests and police searches of smartphones.

Chief Justice Roberts, Court observers say, has worked hard to try to have the Court speak with a single voice as often as possible. But even when they agree on the outcome of a case, the justices frequently disagree on the legal reasoning, spelling out their views in concurring opinions that sometimes read almost like dissents.

Category: Chart of the Week

Topics: Supreme Court