For the first time in his presidency, Barack Obama now must deal with a Congress completely controlled by Republicans. That’s led some political observers to predict that Obama will be using his veto pen a lot more in his last two years in office than he did in the first six. (The White House already has threatened to veto bills authorizing the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, changing the Affordable Care Act’s definition of a full-time worker, and delaying certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law.)
A look at recent history indicates that presidents do, in fact, veto more bills when both houses of Congress are controlled by the opposing party. We examined more than four decades of legislative data, courtesy of the Library of Congress’ THOMAS website, and found that when presidents are of one party and Congress is controlled by the other, they vetoed 3.6% of all public bills presented to them, versus just 1% when both House and Senate were controlled by the president’s party. When control of Congress was divided, presidents vetoed 1.9% of the public bills that reached their desks. (Public bills are those of general applicability, and account for the overwhelming number of laws Congress makes.) Read More →
Last month, the Pew Research Center released a survey showing that a question about gun policy we have been asking since 1993 had passed a key milestone: For the first time in more than two decades, a higher percentage (52%) said it was more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns than to control gun ownership (46%).
The survey question has drawn criticism from gun control advocates and some experts on gun violence, who called it simplistic, misleading and even biased. They say that forcing respondents to choose between polar positions – “gun control” or “gun rights” – assumes that all regulations on gun sales infringe on gun owners’ rights.
This question presents respondents with simple, stark alternatives: When the issue of guns is raised, do you find yourself more on the side of protecting gun rights or controlling gun ownership? There is no indication that people have any difficulty answering this question or are ambivalent about the topic. In fact, when asked a follow-up about the strength of their opinion, 81% of those who said it is more important to control gun ownership felt strongly about that position; 91% of those who said it is more important to protect gun rights felt strongly.
Next weekend, Pope Francis will make his first visit to the home of Asia’s largest Catholic population, the Philippines. The pontiff, who also will be making a stop in Sri Lanka, is very popular in the Philippines and should expect an enthusiastic welcome during his five-day visit.
The Philippines’ Catholic majority has its origins in the islands’ long period as a Spanish colony, and popes have made the more than 6,000-mile trip from the Vatican a few times before. Pope Paul VI visited the country in 1970, and St. John Paul II traveled to the Philippines twice as pope (in 1981 and 1995). Read More →
Trade is shaping up as a major issue on the 2015 legislative agenda, with Congress potentially voting on both expedited presidential trade negotiating authority and a yet-to-be concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a U.S. trade and investment agreement with nations bordering the Pacific Ocean. Congressional leaders and Obama administration officials have touted both these initiatives as opportunities for bipartisan cooperation after years of partisan political gridlock in Washington.
Indeed, a Pew Research Center survey suggests such bipartisan efforts could find public support. Despite conventional wisdom in Washington that Republicans are free traders and Democrats are protectionists, there is no partisan divide on trade outside the Washington Beltway. Both Republicans and Democrats voice the view that trade is good for the United States. But that won’t necessarily make passage of either trade initiative a slam dunk. Both the GOP and Democrats also agree that trade may not be good for them personally. Read More →
In naming his second group of cardinals, Pope Francis has continued to shift the balance of the Roman Catholic Church’s leadership away from the continent it has long called home.
The pope – the first modern pontiff born outside of Europe – announced 15 new cardinals on Jan. 4, including representatives from three Southeast Asian countries (Burma, Thailand and Vietnam) as well as New Zealand and the Pacific island nation of Tonga. Another three are from Latin America – Mexico, Uruguay and Panama – while two are natives of sub-Saharan Africa (Cape Verde and Ethiopia). Out of the 15 incoming “princes of the church,” only five are from Europe.
In less than two years, Francis has changed the geographic breakdown of the cardinals. The conclave that elected Francis in 2013 was heavily European: 52% of those cardinals were from Europe, a continent that was home to only 24% of the world’s Catholics as of 2010.
Based on the distribution of the global Catholic population, Europe is still overrepresented among cardinals who are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote for a new pope. But Europe no longer has a majority. After the new cardinals are installed Feb. 14, Europe’s share of the 125 cardinal electors will have fallen to 46%.
Meanwhile, Francis’ appointments have boosted voting-age cardinals from the Asia-Pacific region (from 9% in 2013 to 13% in 2015) and sub-Saharan Africa (from 9% to 11%).
Topics: Catholics and Catholicism
The number of Americans who rely only on a cellphone for their telephone service continues to grow. Fully 43% of U.S. adults live in a household with a cellphone and no landline phone, according to new government data for the first half of 2014. That’s up four percentage points from just six months earlier. According to an extrapolation by Pew Research Center, an estimated 46.5% of adults are cell-only today.
To keep pace with this rapid trend, the Pew Research Center will increase the percentage of respondents interviewed on cellphones in its typical national telephone surveys to 65%; 35% of interviews will be conducted by landline. Last year, we increased the ratio to 60% cellphone, with 40% conducted on landline. Back in 2008, when we first started routinely including cellphones in our phone surveys, just one-fourth (25%) of all interviews were done by cellphone.
Our goal in making this change is to ensure that all adults are adequately represented in Pew Research Center surveys. Although cellphone-only households are very common today, there are sizeable demographic differences between people living in cell-only households and those with landlines.
For example, young adults, Hispanics, renters and the poor (as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau’s poverty thresholds) are all far more likely to be cell-only. To the extent that cell-only households are underrepresented in our samples, these groups are also underrepresented. In a typical Pew Research Center national telephone survey, a little more than half of respondents interviewed on a cellphone report that they have no landline telephone; consequently, the share of all respondents who are cell-only depends heavily on how many total cellphone interviews are conducted. By raising the share of all interviews conducted on a cell phone to 65%, we expect that about 37% of our total sample will be cell-only – still short of the target of 46.5%, but closer.
The question naturally arises: Why not interview everyone on a cellphone? In fact, at least one major national survey is going to do just that. The Surveys of Consumers, conducted by the University of Michigan, will begin calling only cellphones this month. Read More →
As Republicans take control of both chambers of Congress for the first time since 2006, their leaders, like new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have been promising to become more productive, especially in advance of the 2016 presidential elections. But after years of fierce partisan warfare, Americans are deeply skeptical that more will get done in Washington.
About three-quarters (76%) of those who cited a top national problem said they did not think progress would be made by President Obama and GOP leaders to address the problem they mentioned, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in early December 2014.
And there, at least, was one point of partisan agreement. That dim view was shared by 78% of Republicans, 71% of Democrats and 80% of independents.
People often elect politicians who are like them. Indeed, a regional comparison of members of Congress with the general public shows that, when it comes to religious affiliation, representatives often share their faith with many of their constituents.
Across the four major U.S. regions (as determined by the Census Bureau), there are correlations between the share of the general public affiliated with certain religious groups and the percentage of members of the House and Senate with the same affiliation, a new Pew Research Center analysis finds. And in some cases where a region has a clear majority or a larger-than-average share belonging to one group, the result is an even larger share of members of that group in Congress. Read More →
This year marked the 25th anniversary of the creation of the internet, making it a good time to look at how the internet had changed lives and what opportunities, challenges and dangers the coming years might bring. To do that, the Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center posed a battery of questions to nearly 3,000 internet experts and scholars, centering on where things would stand by the year 2025 as technology and society kept evolving. Read More →
The public remains deeply dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country. Just 26% are satisfied with national conditions, while 71% are dissatisfied. And Americans have muted expectations for the year to come: 49% say they think 2015 will be a better year than 2014, while 42% think it will be worse, according to a survey conducted earlier this month. The current ratings are more pessimistic than in recent years, as the public generally takes an optimistic view of the year to come.
A year ago, 56% thought 2014 would be a better year than the last, compared with fewer (35%) who thought it would be worse. Read More →