Jan 18, 2019 3:04 pm

Americans view this shutdown much as they did past ones – negatively and with much anxiety

From left, Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama faced budget impasses with Congress under Speakers Newt Gingrich and John Boehner, respectively. The current shutdown has seen a standoff between President Donald Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Clockwise, from top left: Richard Ellis/AFP, Saul Loeb/AFP, Alex Wong, Cheriss May/NurPhoto, Win McNamee, Joyce Naltchayan/AFP, all via Getty Images)

Like so many issues in the United States these days, the partial shutdown of the federal government – now the longest in U.S. history – is viewed very differently by people in different partisan and ideological camps. In a new Pew Research Center survey, about six-in-ten U.S. adults (58%) call the shutdown a “very serious problem.” But Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are far more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to say this (79% vs. 35%). And within the GOP, 47% of moderate and liberal Republicans consider the shutdown a very serious problem, but only 27% of conservative Republicans do.

About six-in-ten Americans (61%) disapprove of President Donald Trump’s handling of negotiations over the shutdown. An almost equal share (60%) disapproves of Republican congressional leaders on this score, and 53% disapprove of how Democratic leaders in Congress are performing. Other recent polls have asked who Americans believe is most responsible for the shutdown, finding that Trump and congressional Republicans bear more responsibility than the Democrats.

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Topics: Economic Policy, Congress, Government Spending and the Deficit, Federal Government, Domestic Affairs and Policy

Jan 18, 2019 1:00 pm

Americans divided over decision to withdraw from Syria

A U.S. military base between the city of Aleppo and the northern town of Manbij in Syria. Americans are divided over whether withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria would be the right decision. (Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. public split over withdrawing troops from Syria, doubt Trump has clear planIn the wake of President Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States would withdraw troops from Syria, the public is divided over the issue, and about two-thirds say they do not think Trump has a clear plan for dealing with the situation in the war-torn country.

Overall, 43% of Americans say withdrawing American troops from Syria would be the right decision, while 45% say it would be the wrong decision. The new Pew Research Center survey of 1,505 U.S. adults was conducted Jan. 9-14 – before a Jan. 16 bombing in Syria in which 14 people were killed, including several American service members and civilians.

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Topics: Syria, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Military and Veterans, Middle East and North Africa, Wars and International Conflicts

Jan 18, 2019 11:00 am

Blacks have made gains in U.S. political leadership, but gaps remain

Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., and other freshman House members leave Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Capitol office on Jan. 15. As of this year, 52 House members are black, up from just six in 1965. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ten years ago, Barack Obama took office as the first black president of the United States – a proud moment for many Americans. Obama’s election represented another advance in the slow but steady progress blacks have made in recent decades in gaining a greater foothold in political leadership, particularly in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the Cabinets of recent presidents. But they have lagged in the Senate and in governorships.

Many blacks view political representation as a potential catalyst for increased racial equality, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey. Roughly four-in-ten black adults (38%) said that working to get more black people elected to office would be a very effective tactic for groups striving to help blacks achieve equality. Whites were less likely to view this as an effective way to bring about increased racial equality (24% said it would be very effective).

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Topics: Congress, Federal Government, African Americans, State and Local Government, U.S. Political Figures, Race and Ethnicity

Jan 18, 2019 9:00 am

Nearly three-quarters of Republicans say the news media don’t understand people like them

A majority of Americans believe the news media do not understand people like them, and this feeling is especially common among Republicans, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.

Almost three-quarters of Republicans feel misunderstood by the news media

Overall, 58% of U.S. adults feel the news media do not understand people like them, while 40% feel they are understood, as reported in a recent Pew Research Center study.

Republicans, however, are nearly three times as likely to feel that news organizations don’t understand them (73%) as they are to say they feel understood (25%). By comparison, most Democrats (58%) say they feel understood by the news media, while four-in-ten say they do not.

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Topics: News Audience Trends and Attitudes, U.S. Political Parties, News Interest

Jan 17, 2019 2:01 pm

Black Muslims account for a fifth of all U.S. Muslims, and about half are converts to Islam

Worshippers gather at a Minnesota football stadium for prayer and festivities for Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest holidays on the Muslim calendar. (Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)

This is one of an occasional series of posts on black Americans and religion.

Even in the early 20th century, when Islam had little presence in most parts of the United States, the religion had a foothold in many black urban communities. Today, black people (not including those of Hispanic descent or mixed race) make up 20% of the country’s overall Muslim population, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey.

Still, Muslims make up only a small portion of the overall black population in the United States. The vast majority of black Americans are either Christian (79%) or religiously unaffiliated (18%), while about 2% of black Americans are Muslim.

Roughly half of black Muslims are converts to IslamAbout half of black Muslims (49%) are converts to Islam, a relatively high level of conversion. By contrast, only 15% of nonblack Muslims are converts to Islam, and just 6% of black Christians are converts to Christianity.

Black Muslims are like black Americans overall in that they have high levels of religious commitment. For instance, large majorities of both black Muslims and black Christians say religion is very important to them (75% and 84% respectively). This is a higher level of commitment than for nonblack Muslims (62%). Black Muslims are also more likely than other Muslims in the U.S. to perform the five daily prayers (55% vs. 39%).

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Topics: Muslims and Islam, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Muslim Americans, Race and Ethnicity

Jan 17, 2019 10:00 am

Defining generations: Where Millennials end and Generation Z begins

For decades, Pew Research Center has been committed to measuring public attitudes on key issues and documenting differences in those attitudes across demographic groups. One lens often employed by researchers at the Center to understand these differences is that of generation.

Generations provide the opportunity to look at Americans both by their place in the life cycle – whether a young adult, a middle-aged parent or a retiree – and by their membership in a cohort of individuals who were born at a similar time.

Michael Dimock
Michael Dimock, president of Pew Research Center

As we’ve examined in past work, generational cohorts give researchers a tool to analyze changes in views over time. They can provide a way to understand how different formative experiences (such as world events and technological, economic and social shifts) interact with the life-cycle and aging process to shape people’s views of the world. While younger and older adults may differ in their views at a given moment, generational cohorts allow researchers to examine how today’s older adults felt about a given issue when they themselves were young, as well as to describe how the trajectory of views might differ across generations.

Pew Research Center has been studying the Millennial generation for more than a decade. But by 2018, it became clear to us that it was time to determine a cutoff point between Millennials and the next generation. Turning 38 this year, the oldest Millennials are well into adulthood, and they first entered adulthood before today’s youngest adults were born.

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Topics: Baby Boomers, Millennials, Generation Z, Generations and Age

Jan 16, 2019 3:00 pm

How Americans see illegal immigration, the border wall and political compromise

A Border Patrol officer makes his rounds near central El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 23, 2018. Much of the federal government had shut down the day before. (Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images)

A standoff between President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders over how to address unauthorized immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border has led to a partial shutdown of the federal government – one that is now the longest on record.

The United States was home to 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants in 2016, a 13% decline from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007, according to the most recent Pew Research Center estimates. This decade-long decline was driven almost entirely by a decrease in unauthorized immigrants from Mexico, even as the numbers from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras increased. Meanwhile, a growing share of unauthorized immigrants were not people who had entered the country illegally, but had arrived legally and then overstayed their visas.

More recent data from the federal government show that 2018 saw an uptick in border apprehensions (which are often used as a proxy measure for unlawful entries). There were nearly 467,000 apprehensions at the southwest border last year, the most in any calendar year since at least 2012. Still, the number of apprehensions in 2018 remained far below the more than 1 million apprehensions per fiscal year routinely recorded during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

As Trump and Democrats press their cases about ways to end the government shutdown, here’s a look at how Americans see illegal immigration – as well as their views toward the president’s proposed expansion of the border wall and how much political leaders should be open to compromise:

Fewer than half know that most immigrants in the U.S. are here legally1The vast majority of immigrants in the U.S. are in the country legally – but fewer than half of Americans know that’s the case. Lawful immigrants accounted for about three-quarters (76%) of all immigrants in the U.S. in 2016. But in a survey conducted in June 2018, only 45% of Americans correctly said most immigrants are in the country legally. Around a third of U.S. adults (35%) incorrectly said that most immigrants are in the country illegally, while 6% said about half of all immigrants are here illegally and half legally. Another 13% did not provide a response.

2Republican and Democratic voters sharply disagree over whether illegal immigration is a major problem in the U.S. today. In a survey conducted ahead of last year’s midterm elections, three-quarters of registered voters who planned to support the GOP candidate in their congressional district said illegal immigration was a very big problem in the country, versus just 19% among voters who planned to support their Democratic candidate for Congress.

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Topics: Unauthorized Immigration, Immigration Attitudes, Federal Government, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Immigration, National Security

Jan 16, 2019 1:30 pm

Border apprehensions increased in 2018 – especially for migrant families

Central American asylum seekers wait as U.S. Border Patrol agents take them into custody on June 12 near McAllen, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images)

There were nearly 467,000 apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2018, the most for any calendar year since at least 2012, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the most recent available data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The increase was driven in part by a dramatic spike in border apprehensions of family members at the end of last year.

Despite the increase, the number of border apprehensions in 2018 remained far below the levels throughout most of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, when around 1 million or more migrants were being apprehended each fiscal year.

The situation at the southwest border has become the focus of the now nearly month-long partial federal government shutdown. President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders are at an impasse over Trump’s proposal for a wall at the border.

U.S. apprehensions of family units rose substantially over past yearIn the months leading up to the shutdown, there was a large increase in the number of people in family units apprehended at the border. Monthly family apprehensions subsequently hit new highs each month from September through December, according to data going back to 2012. There were nearly 17,000 family member apprehensions in September, more than 23,000 in October, about 25,000 in November and a record of more than 27,000 in December.

All told, roughly 163,000 family members were apprehended last year – more than three times as many as in 2017, and the highest number since at least 2012.

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Topics: Immigration Trends, Global Migration and Demography, Migration, Immigration

Jan 15, 2019 10:32 am

Democratic and Republican House members on average represent similar numbers of federal workers

As the longest federal government shutdown in the nation’s history continues, it’s not just around the nation’s capital that government workers have been affected. The majority of federal workers live and work far from Washington, with substantial numbers found in congressional districts scattered across the country – and represented by both Democratic and Republican members of Congress.

Looking at all current members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the average number of federal workers is roughly the same in districts represented by Democratic representatives (10,800) as it is in districts represented by Republican members (10,400), according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data. (Similarly, there is little partisan difference in the median number of federal workers represented.)

Federal employees are spread across the country, found in both Democratic and Republican districtsThe analysis is based on the total number of federal government employees by congressional district, but data are not available at the congressional district level to break the numbers down by those who are and are not furloughed. State-level analyses of federal workers affected by the partial government shutdown have found that, along with the Washington, D.C., area, several rural states – including Montana and Alaska – have been significantly affected by the shutdown.

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Topics: Economic Policy, Federal Government, Work and Employment, U.S. Political Parties, Domestic Affairs and Policy

Jan 14, 2019 12:04 pm

Split between Ukrainian, Russian churches shows political importance of Orthodox Christianity

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stands with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople (center) and Metropolitan of Kiev Epiphanius I (right) at a ceremony to sign the decree that proclaims the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. (Ozan Kose/AFP viaGetty Images)

The recent decision by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to split from its Russian counterpart after more than 300 years of being linked reflects not only the continuing military conflict between the two countries in recent years, but also the important political role Orthodox Christianity plays in the region.

Strong majorities in Ukraine and Russia identify as OrthodoxUkraine is an overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian nation, with nearly eight-in-ten adults (78%) identifying as Orthodox (compared with 71% in Russia), according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey of much of the country (some contested areas in eastern Ukraine were not surveyed). This is up from 39% who said they were Orthodox Christian in 1991 – the year the officially atheist Soviet Union collapsed and Ukraine gained its independence. With roughly 35 million Orthodox Christians, Ukraine now has the third-largest Orthodox population in the world, after Russia and Ethiopia.

In addition, Orthodox Christianity is closely tied to Ukraine’s national and political life. Roughly half of all Ukrainians (51%) say it is at least somewhat important for someone to be Orthodox to be truly Ukrainian. The same is true for Russia, where 57% say being Orthodox is important to being truly Russian. In both countries, about half (48% in each) say religious leaders have at least some influence in political matters, although most Ukrainians (61%) and roughly half of Russians (52%) would prefer if this were not the case.

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Topics: Eastern Europe, Russia, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religious Leaders, Europe