Sep 7, 2016 7:00 am

House seats rarely flip from one party to the other

With Election Day 2016 a little over two months away, many political analysts are projecting Democrats to gain seats in both the House and Senate. But winning the 30 seats they need to wrest control of the House from the Republicans is generally seen as a longer shot than the four or five Senate seats they’d need to lead that chamber (depending on whether or not Hillary Clinton is elected president and Tim Kaine, as vice president and president of the Senate, has a tie-breaking vote).

Shifts of that magnitude are uncommon but not unprecedented: In three of the past 12 two-year election cycles, one party has racked up a net gain of 30 seats or more (most recently in 2010, when the Republicans had a net gain of 63 seats). So we thought it was worthwhile to take a closer look at the circumstances under which House seats do, and don’t, switch from Republican to Democratic or vice versa. (In redistricting years, we excluded House districts that were either newly created and those so radically redrawn that no incumbent ran in them.)

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Topics: 2016 Election, Congress, Political Party Affiliation, U.S. Political Parties

Sep 6, 2016 1:59 pm

Fewer refugees entering Europe than in 2015, but asylum backlog still growing

One year after the surge of 1.3 million refugees who entered Europe in 2015 was at its peak, the number of new arrivals this summer has declined sharply compared with last year. But at the same time, the backlog of unprocessed asylum applications has reached more than 1 million and continues to grow, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the United Nations and European Union.

In summer 2015, thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries entered Europe daily through Greece and Italy. Germany responded to the humanitarian crisis by opening its borders, allowing refugees to make their way north and west from the Greek islands. In all, Europe received its greatest annual number of asylum applicants since 1985, the first year for which data from Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency, are available.

In 2016, people have continued to cross the eastern Mediterranean into Europe, but in much smaller numbers. However, migration could again surge if an agreement between the EU and Turkey collapses following a coup attempt in Turkey. Migration from Turkey into Greece – the transit corridor used by most of 2015’s 1.3 million migrants – largely stopped once the EU-Turkey deal was put in place in March 2016. This summer, an average of about a hundred migrants has landed on Greece’s shores daily, down from the thousands who arrived every day last summer, according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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Topics: Europe, Immigration, International Governments and Institutions, International Organizations, Middle East and North Africa, Migration, Sub-Saharan Africa, Western Europe

Sep 2, 2016 11:17 am

For many voters, it’s not which presidential candidate they’re for but which they’re against

American voters are generally skeptical that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would make a “great” or “good” president. But another dynamic in the 2016 presidential election is the significant share of voters who say their vote is based more on which candidate they are against rather than which one they are for.

This stands in contrast to recent elections in years without an incumbent presidential candidate. In both 2008 and 2000, half or more of each candidate’s supporters said their vote was more a vote for their candidate than a vote against the opposing party’s candidate.

In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 53% of Clinton supporters say they consider their vote more in support of her, while 46% say their vote is more against Trump. Negative voting is somewhat more prevalent among Trump supporters: 53% say their vote is primarily against Clinton. Fewer (44%) say their vote is in support of Trump.

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Topics: 2016 Election, Elections and Campaigns, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Party Affiliation, Political Polarization, U.S. Political Parties, Voting Issues

Sep 1, 2016 11:00 am

10 facts about American workers

More than 150 million Americans are part of the U.S. workforce, and many of them (but not all) will spend the Labor Day national holiday away from their desks, cash registers and workbenches. We can’t predict how workers will use their day off, but we do know a fair amount about who they are, what they do and the U.S. working environment in general.

1A Long Downward Slide for UnionsOver the past three decades, the share of American workers who are union members has fallen by about half. Union membership peaked in 1954 at nearly 35% of all U.S. wage and salary workers, but in 2015 the unionization rate was just 11.1%. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the actual number of union members has risen in recent years, from 14.4 million in 2012 to 14.8 million last year.

The biggest decline in union representation from 2000 to 2015 was in construction and extraction occupations, from 23.8% to 17.2%. Unionization actually has risen, albeit slightly and from low bases, in a few occupational groups: In legal occupations, for instance, the unionization rate rose from 5.1% in 2000 to 5.6% last year.

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Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Business and Labor, Educational Attainment, Gender, Generations and Age, Income, Income Inequality, Work and Employment

Aug 31, 2016 11:02 am

U.S. immigrant deportations declined in 2014, but remain near record high

The Obama administration deported 414,481 unauthorized immigrants in fiscal year 2014, a drop of about 20,000 (or 5%) from the prior year, newly released Department of Homeland Security data show. A total 2.4 million were deported under the administration from fiscal 2009 to 2014, including a record 435,000 in 2013, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the data.

The overall decrease is driven by a significant decline in deportations of immigrants with a criminal conviction – from 199,000 in 2013 to 168,000 in 2014. The 16% drop is the first decline on record (1981 is the first year for which deportation data of those with criminal convictions are available). Some of this decline can be attributed to an increased focus in recent years on deporting at-large convicted criminals, as well as to an increase in 2014 in the number of state and local law enforcement agencies that did not honor immigration authorities’ requests to detain for deportation those who were in jail.

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Topics: 2016 Election, Immigration, Immigration Attitudes, Immigration Trends, Mexico, Migration, Population Geography, Population Trends, Unauthorized Immigration

Aug 31, 2016 10:00 am

Migrant remittances worldwide drop in 2015 for first time since Great Recession

View our newly updated interactive to see the top inflows and outflows of money sent by migrants worldwide.

Worldwide, an estimated $582 billion was sent by migrants to relatives in their home countries in 2015, a 2% decline from 2014, when the amount was $592 billion, according to economists at the World Bank. This is the first drop in global remittances since 2009, when they fell by $28 billion amid the global financial crisis.

Despite this recent decline, remittances sent by migrants are still about double what they were a decade ago, before the sharp decline in the global economy during the late 2000s. And, with the exception of 2009, migrant remittances worldwide have steadily climbed since the World Bank began releasing estimates in 1970.

The volume of migrant remittances is closely tied to the increase in migrant populations. The number of international migrants (people who live in a country other than their birth country) has grown from about 191 million in 2005 to more than 243 million today even as the share of the world’s population that are migrants has remained steady at about 3%. The U.S., which has more migrants than any other country, is also the source of more remittances than any other country. Migrant remittances from the U.S. continue to go up even though migration to the U.S. from Mexico has slowed and possibly reversed. (Mexico is the largest receiving country of remittances from the U.S.)

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Immigration, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa, Migration, North America, Remittances

Aug 30, 2016 12:19 pm

Americans skeptical about the potential use of synthetic blood

Americans are largely cautious about the idea of using synthetic blood substitutes to improve the speed, strength and stamina of healthy individuals, according to a recent Pew Research Center report examining U.S. attitudes about the potential use of emerging biomedical technologies.

Lab-manufactured synthetic blood, sometimes called “super blood,” would replicate the oxygen-carrying capabilities of red blood cells, thereby boosting oxygen levels in the bloodstream. At its most basic application, synthetic blood could help alleviate blood shortages, given that it could be used regardless of blood type. But it could also be engineered to fight infections or carry more oxygen, potentially boosting healthy individuals’ productivity in their everyday lives.

For the biomedical world, synthetic blood is a not a new concept. Research into substitutes for human blood ramped up in the 1980s due to the HIV crisis. More recently, a group of researchers from the UK announced that clinical trials to give human subjects manufactured blood in transfusions could begin as early as 2017.

But the Center’s survey found that Americans are more worried than excited or enthusiastic about the potential for healthy people to use synthetic blood (63% vs. 36%). And a majority of Americans – roughly six-in-ten – said they would not want synthetic blood substitutes in their own body to improve their abilities, while 35% would be open to it.  Read More

Topics: Bioethics, Christians and Christianity, Emerging Technology Impacts, Religion and Society, Science and Innovation, Technology Adoption

Aug 29, 2016 12:31 pm

This may be the last presidential election dominated by Boomers and prior generations

For the past few decades, presidential elections have been dominated by voters of the Baby Boom and previous generations, who are estimated to have cast a majority of the votes. But their election reign may end this November, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data.

Baby Boomers and prior generations have cast the vast majority of votes in every presidential election since 1980, data from the Census Bureau’s November Current Population Survey voting supplement show. In 2012, Boomers and previous generations accounted for 56% of those who said they voted. And these generations dominated earlier elections to an even greater degree.  Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Baby Boomers, Generations and Age, Millennials, Population Trends, Voter Demographics, Voter Participation, Voting Issues

Aug 26, 2016 10:30 am

Many Americans are wary of using gene editing for human enhancement

A new gene-splicing technique, CRISPR, greatly improves scientists’ ability to accurately and efficiently “edit” the human genome. (Getty Images)
A new gene-splicing technique, CRISPR, greatly improves scientists’ ability to accurately and efficiently “edit” the human genome. (Getty Images)

The widespread use of gene editing is rapidly becoming a present-day reality. Thanks to a new method called CRISPR, what once was an esoteric and unwieldy technology has, in just the last few years, become cheaper and more effective.

Thousands of researchers are already using CRISPR (short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) to edit the DNA in adult cells with an eye toward creating breakthrough medical treatments. But CRISPR also can be used to edit embryos, where changes to the genome will subsequently spiral out into all of a person’s cells and be passed on to his or her offspring.

Embryonic gene editing holds the promise of dramatically enhancing people by making them healthier and more resistant to disease throughout their lives. It also has the potential to make them much smarter, stronger and faster.

Despite these possible benefits, Americans are wary of editing embryos, even if the focus is on using the technology solely to reduce their children’s risk of serious disease, according to a Pew Research Center survey about the broader field of “human enhancement.”  Read More

Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, Evolution, Health, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Science and Innovation, Technology Adoption

Aug 25, 2016 2:46 pm

5 facts about Trump supporters’ views of immigration

(Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
(Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)

Immigration policy has been a focal point of Donald Trump’s campaign since he announced he was running for president 14 months ago. Today, amid signs he may be preparing to modify some of his hard-line positions on illegal immigration, here is a review of where Trump supporters stand on the issue:

1Most Trump supporters view immigration as a “very big problem” in the U.S. In a survey released last week, 66% of registered voters who support Trump in the general election call immigration a “very big problem” in the country. Just 17% of Hillary Clinton backers say the same. Terrorism is the only other issue, among seven included, that is viewed by about as many Trump supporters as a major problem (65%).

2Trump’s proposed border wall gets overwhelming support from his backers. Perhaps no Trump proposal has resonated more strongly with his supporters than his plan to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. Fully 79% of Trump supporters favor building a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border; just 18% are opposed. Among Clinton supporters, 88% oppose a border wall, compared with 10% who favor it.  Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Immigration Attitudes, Latin America, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Issue Priorities, U.S. Political Figures, Unauthorized Immigration