Oct 25, 2016 12:34 pm

Oversampling is used to study small groups, not bias poll results

Every election year, questions arise about how polling techniques and practices might skew poll results one way or the other. In the final weeks before this year’s election, the practice of “oversampling” and its possible effect on presidential polls is in the media spotlight.

Oversampling is the practice of selecting respondents so that some groups make up a larger share of the survey sample than they do in the population. Oversampling small groups can be difficult and costly, but it allows polls to shed light on groups that would otherwise be too small to report on.

This might sound like it would make the survey unrepresentative, but pollsters correct this through weighting. With weighting, groups that were oversampled are brought back in line with their actual share of the population – removing the potential for bias. Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Demographics, Research Methods, Telephone Survey Methods

Oct 24, 2016 10:11 am

Many Americans unaware of their states’ voter ID laws

With less than a month to go before Election Day, not all American voters are aware of their states’ voter ID requirements. A new national survey finds that the confusion runs two ways: Some voters live in states that do not require identification to vote but think it is needed, while others living in states that do require IDs mistakenly believe they do not need one to vote.

About four-in-ten voters (37%) living in states with no identification requirement incorrectly believe that they will be required to show identification prior to voting, according to a survey conducted Sept. 27 to Oct. 10 among 3,616 registered voters on Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel. About six-in-ten (62%) in these states know they do not have to produce a photo ID to vote.

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Topics: 2016 Election, Voter Demographics, Voter Participation, Voting Issues

Oct 24, 2016 7:00 am

As the need for highly trained scientists grows, a look at why people choose these careers

What leads people to a career in science?

It’s an important question because the road to a successful career in science – as with technology, engineering and mathematics, the other STEM fields – can be challenging, often requiring a Ph.D. or other postgraduate training. And once in their fields, there can be political and economic pressures with which to contend. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects workforce shortfalls for many science fields, though the projected needs differ across the life, physical and natural sciences.

Some 55% of working Ph.D. scientists belonging to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) who we surveyed in 2014 said this was generally a good time for their scientific specialty, while 44% said it was a bad time. And while nearly half (47%) said it was a good or very good time to begin a career in their field, 53% said it was a bad time to start out in their field.

So, what draws people into these careers? Roughly one-third (32%) of working Ph.D. scientists said a main motivator for their career path was a lifelong interest in science and desire for intellectual challenge, according to the 2014 surveyRead More

Topics: College, Education, Science and Innovation, Work and Employment

Oct 21, 2016 2:30 pm

U.S. on track for fewest executions since 1991

With public support for the death penalty at its lowest point in more than four decades, the U.S. is on track for its fewest executions in a quarter century.

So far in 2016, 17 inmates have been executed, according to a database maintained by the Death Penalty Information Center. Three additional executions are scheduled for this year. If all three proceed as planned, the year’s 20 executions will be the fewest since 1991, when 14 were recorded. The U.S. has executed at least 28 people in each year since 1992.

Just five states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Missouri and Texas – account for the 17 completed and three scheduled executions this year. This represents the fewest states to carry out executions in any year since 1983. In 1999, by comparison, 20 states conducted executions.  Read More

Topics: Criminal Justice, Death and Dying, Domestic Affairs and Policy, Political Attitudes and Values, Religion and U.S. Politics, State and Local Government

Oct 21, 2016 10:58 am

For many Americans, Election Day is already here

Election Day is less than three weeks away, but for millions of Americans it’s already arrived. More than 4 million voters already have cast early, absentee and mail-in ballots, and if the trend of recent presidential election cycles continues, the number of people voting in such nontraditional ways could top 50 million by the time all the votes are counted.

In 2012, more than 46 million voters – almost 36% of the total – cast ballots in some manner other than at a traditional polling place on Election Day, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of state and federal election data. That figure includes 23.3 million people who cast civilian or military absentee ballots, 16.9 million who voted early (that is, in person during a specific period leading up to Election Day) and 6.3 million who mailed in their ballots.

The share of the total electorate that such nontraditional voting represents has grown rapidly over the past few election cycles. In 2004, according to our analysis, about 22% of the total vote was nontraditional; by 2008, nearly a third was.  Read More

Oct 20, 2016 9:48 am

6 charts that show where Clinton and Trump supporters differ

Voters who support Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agree on at least one thing – that they not only differ on plans and policies, but also on “basic facts.”  Their disagreements on issues extend to the nation’s progress and its ability to solve problems.

In August, a much greater share of Trump supporters (81%) than Clinton supporters (19%) said “life in America today is worse than it was 50 years ago” for people like them. And overall, about a third of registered voters said the country can’t solve many of its problems, but more Trump supporters (38%) than Clinton supporters (26%) said this.

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Category: 5 Facts

Topics: 2016 Election, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Issue Priorities, Political Polarization, U.S. Political Parties, Voting Issues

Oct 18, 2016 1:10 pm

Americans aren’t sold on plastic surgery: Few have had it done, opinions mostly mixed

From prosthetics to anesthesia, war has been a catalyst for many medical advancements. Modern day plastic surgery traces its roots to World War I, where trench warfare made soldiers especially susceptible to face and head injuries. It’s estimated that thousands of soldiers underwent cosmetic surgery during this time.

Plastic surgery has since expanded from treatments aimed mainly at repairing damage to include elective changes like liposuction or tummy tucks. While it’s now a multibillion-dollar industry, just 4% of Americans say they have ever had elective cosmetic surgery, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in spring 2016. Less invasive procedures like skin or lip injections are also rare; just 2% of U.S. adults report having had this done.

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Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, Health Care, Social Values

Oct 18, 2016 7:00 am

Most Americans trust the military and scientists to act in the public’s interest

About three-quarters or more of Americans are confident in the military, medical scientists and scientists in general to act in the best interests of the public. But fewer than half of Americans report similar confidence in the news media, business leaders and elected officials, according to a Pew Research Center report released earlier this month.

One-third of the public (33%) has a great deal of confidence in the military and an additional 46% say they have a fair amount of confidence. The high ranking of the military is consistent with a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, which found 78% of the public said the military contributes “a lot” to society.

Similar shares of Americans express at least a fair amount of confidence in medical scientists (84%) and scientists (76%).

The public expresses less confidence in school and religious leaders. About two-thirds (65%) say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in K-12 principals and superintendents and 53% have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in religious leaders.

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Topics: Domestic Affairs and Policy, Educational Attainment, Generations and Age, Health Care, Military and Veterans, Public Knowledge, Religious Affiliation, Religious Leaders, Religiously Unaffiliated, Science and Innovation, Social Values, Trust in Government

Oct 17, 2016 7:00 am

Putting post-debate ‘flash polls’ into perspective

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off in the first presidential debate at Hofstra University on Sept. 26. (Photo credit: Joe Raedle/AFP/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off in the first presidential debate at Hofstra University on Sept. 26. (Photo credit: Joe Raedle/AFP/Getty Images)

Prize fights and Olympic contests have judges, but debates between candidates for public office in the U.S. are ultimately judged by the voters. In the aftermath of presidential debates, there is intense interest in gauging “who won.” How can we know the answer to that question?

Pollsters answer in two ways: sample surveys of debate viewers, and comparisons of before-and-after polling about the candidates. By these measures, the results of the first two presidential debates were similar – sample surveys of debate viewers generally indicated that Hillary Clinton had won, and national polls tended to show support for Clinton holding steady or improving in the days following the debates. But after both debates, some supporters of Donald Trump – and the candidate himself – pointed to surveys conducted among visitors to news organizations’ websites, many of which found majorities saying Trump prevailed.

How should voters make sense of the flurry of polls that claim to tell us who won? Here is a brief overview of different ways of judging the debates.  Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Election News, Elections and Campaigns, Polling, Presidential Approval, Telephone Survey Methods, Web Survey Methods

Oct 14, 2016 3:39 pm

Key facts about the Latino vote in 2016

Significant growth in the number of Latino eligible voters has helped make the U.S. electorate more racially and ethnically diverse than ever this year. According to Pew Research Center projections, a record 27.3 million Latinos are eligible to cast ballots, representing 12% of all eligible voters.

Since 2012, the number of Hispanic eligible voters has increased by 4 million, accounting for 37% of the growth in all eligible voters during that span. The Hispanic share of eligible voters in several key battleground states has also gone up.

Latinos have favored the Democratic Party over the Republican Party in every presidential election since at least the 1980s, but their electoral impact has long been limited by low voter turnout and a population concentrated in non-battleground states. Despite large growth in the number of eligible Latino voters, it remains to be seen whether their turnout will set a record in November.

Here are key facts about the Latino vote in 2016.

1Millennials make up 44% of Latino eligible voters and are the main driver of growth in the Latino electorate. From 2012 to 2016, 3.2 million young U.S.-born Latinos came of age and turned 18, accounting for 80% of the increase in Latino eligible voters during this time.

2Among Latino registered voters who are “absolutely certain” they will vote, one-in-five will be voting for the first time, according to Pew Research Center’s National Survey of Latinos, published this month. Among Millennial voters, 36% say they will be casting a ballot for the first time, compared with 9% of non-Millennial voters ages 36 and older.

Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: 2016 Election, Generations and Age, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Hispanic/Latino Vote, U.S. Political Parties, Voter Demographics, Voter Participation