Mar 28, 2014 11:02 am

Data Feed: Global migration patterns, divorce among Baby Boomers, pope popularity

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Shrinking majority of Americans support death penalty, Pew Research Center
Death penalty executions in each state since 1977, Pew Research Center
Young Americans’ affinity for Democratic party has grown, Gallup
Voters oppose Obamacare, see worsening job situationtopline, Fox News
Obama health law fails to gain supporttopline, AP/GfK
Older Americans more likely to say a Cold War is returning, Gallup
Analysis: What’s behind public’s negative views for Obama on Ukraine? CBS News
Analysis: How question order skewed pre-election polls in N.J., Langer/Rutgers-Eagleton

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Category: Data Feed

Mar 28, 2014 10:15 am

Lower support for death penalty tracks with falling crime rates, more exonerations

Violent crime in the United StatesThe U.S. has long stood out for its support of capital punishment. For most of the past eight decades — basically the entire history of scientific polling — surveys have nearly always found solid majorities in favor of the death penalty. But that support has ebbed and flowed, and now has been trending lower for almost two decades. A new Pew Research Center analysis finds 55% of U.S. adults favoring the death penalty for people convicted of murder, the lowest support level since the early 1970s.

Researchers have suggested several reasons for the decline in death-penalty support since the mid-1990s. Among them: a steep drop in the incidence of violent crime, and greater attention to wrongful convictions, which has led to more than 1,300 convicts being exonerated through DNA evidence, revelations of faulty forensic work, or other means. (Recent reports of prolonged executions and the difficulties many states have had in procuring drugs for lethal injections also may be factors in shifting public opinion.) Read More

Topics: Criminal Justice, Death Penalty

Mar 28, 2014 7:00 am

The world gives Saudi Arabia poor marks on freedoms

Saudi Arabia and Personal FreedomsAs he heads to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah, President Obama is receiving an earful about the kingdom’s human rights record. Earlier this week, 70 members of Congress signed a letter urging Obama to confront Saudi leaders about human rights abuses, including “violations targeting women, religious minorities and peaceful political reformers.” NGOs are also pressing him to make human rights a key topic on his Riyadh trip, and Amnesty International has called on Obama to select a female Secret Service officer as his driver in Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world that bans women from driving.

The American public also gives the kingdom poor marks for how it treats its citizens. Roughly seven-in-ten (72%) said the government of Saudi Arabia does not respect the personal freedoms of its people, up slightly from 64% in 2008. Only 11% said it does respect personal liberty, essentially unchanged from the 13% registered five years prior.

And Americans are hardly alone in this view – across 39 nations surveyed by the Pew Research Center in 2013, a median of just 18% said the Saudi government respects individual rights. In contrast, a median of 70% said the United States government respects the personal freedoms of its people (note that the survey was conducted prior to revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance programs). Ratings for the Chinese government were not especially high (a median of 36%), but were still more positive than those for Saudi Arabia. Only Iran received an overall lower score (a median of 11%).

Still, a few countries do give the Saudi regime relatively high marks: In Pakistan, Senegal, Jordan, Egypt, Nigeria and Indonesia, at least half believed the Riyadh government respects personal freedoms. All of these have populations that are over 85% Muslim, with the exception of Nigeria, which is almost evenly split between Muslims and Christians.

In several other majority Muslim nations, however, Saudi Arabia received poor ratings. On balance, Turks, Palestinians and Tunisians said the kingdom does not respect personal liberties. And in Lebanon, 71% held this opinion, although views differed among the country’s Sunni (49%), Shia (84%) and Christian (80%) communities.

Topics: Middle East and North Africa

Mar 27, 2014 11:49 am

Data Feed: Ukraine crisis hurting Obama, population boom in Great Plains, health in U.S. counties

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Support for Obama, health care law has eroded among Hispanics, Pew Research Center
Ukraine crisis is hurting Obama at hometopline, AP/GfK
Record 68% of Americans view Russia as unfriendly or an enemy, Gallup
76% of Americans see pope in favorable light, Gallup
Americans OK with pot being sold in their town, less so in their neighborhood, CNBC
California poll shows bipartisan support for immigration reform, PPIC
Virginia voters favor Warner and Clinton despite negative Obama views, Quinnipiac
Study: Easy registration motivates voters, The Pew Charitable Trusts

Energy boom fuels rapid population growth in parts of Great Plains, Census Bureau
Rural America struggles as young people chase jobs in cities, Brookings, Census via WSJ
CEO pay rising, but not for all, The Wall Street Journal
Americans still bummed about economy, despite gains, CNBC
Fewest Americans earning minimum wage since 2008, BLS via WSJ
GDP increased at annual rate of 2.6% in 4Q 2013 (3rd estimate), BEA

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Category: Data Feed

Mar 27, 2014 9:00 am

Support for Obama, health care law has eroded among Hispanics

Support of President Obama and his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, has declined among Hispanics over the past six months, even though the popularity of both is nearly unchanged among the public overall, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data.Hispanic support for affordable care act Obamacare has declined

Today, as many Hispanics approve as disapprove (47%-47%) of the new health care law. That’s down markedly compared with the 61% approval just six months ago.

During the same time period, Obama’s job approval rating has slipped 15 points among Hispanics. About half of Hispanics (48%) approve of Obama’s job performance today, down from 63% in September 2013. (Among the general public today, 44% approve of Obama and 41% approve of the new law, neither significantly changed from September.)Hispanics' Support for Obama has declined

Since the troubled launch of the online health care exchange on Oct. 1, news coverage has noted low Hispanic enrollment and included criticism that the Spanish-language version of the website contained poor translations. Others have disputed that claim, arguing a major hurdle in enrolling more Hispanics in health insurance has been that many don’t understand the law. Another cause of low enrollment may be fear of federal authorities among U.S. citizens and residents with family members who are unauthorized immigrants.  Read More

Topics: Barack Obama, Health Care, Hispanic/Latino Vote

Mar 27, 2014 7:00 am

U.S. Catholics mirror general public on views of inequality

When the White House announced in January that President Obama would travel to Rome this month, it said the president was looking forward to “discussing with Pope Francis their shared commitment to fighting poverty and growing inequality.” Both men have addressed a growing gap between rich and poor, and the meeting today was dubbed the “inequality summit.”


The two leaders are meeting at a time when more Americans say they have a very or mostly favorable view of the pontiff (66%) than say the same about the president (51%). And significantly fewer have an unfavorable view of Pope Francis (11%) than see Obama unfavorably (45%).

U.S. Catholic bishops have said that Catholic teaching on social justice issues is “a central and essential element of our faith.” A 2013 Pew Research survey asked U.S. Catholics an open-ended question: What is the most important way the Catholic Church helps society today? More mentioned helping the poor or other charitable works (27%) than any other response.

Since his election a year ago, the Vatican released an “apostolic exhortation” that laid out his vision of a world that is more socially inclusive of the poor, and derided “the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few.”

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Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Income Inequality

Mar 26, 2014 2:06 pm

Obama, Americans put more emphasis on ties with Europe

President Obama emphasized the importance of U.S.-European relations in Brussels today amid the allies’ growing concerns about Russia’s increasingly assertive behavior in Eastern Europe — and at a time when most Americans see political, economic and military ties with the continent as more important than they did several years ago.

Half of Americans saw ties with Europe as the most important internationally for the U.S. compared with 35% who said relations with Asian nations are the most important, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted last fall.

United States relationship with EuropeThat represented a change from 2011 when Americans viewed ties with Asia as more important than those with Europe by a 47% to 37% margin.

Republicans (58%) were more likely than Democrats (48%) or independents (45%) to put more importance on the relationship with Europe, but all three partisan groups tilted more to Europe in the 2013 poll than they did two years earlier.

Breaking ranks with this view are young adults: They see ties with Asia as more important by a 52% to 37% margin, about the same proportions as in 2011. But older Americans have gravitated back to the view that Europe is more important to the U.S. than Asia, especially those 65 and older, among whom 60% put the priority on Europe.

Topics: Eastern Europe, Foreign Affairs and Policy

Mar 26, 2014 11:44 am

Data Feed: State of the news media, voters attracted to pot measures, returns on a college education

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of Ukraine crisis, CBS News
Seniors have realigned with the Republican party, Gallup
Virginia voters give McAuliffe ‘OK’ grades, support minimum wage hike, Quinnipiac
Voters more likely to turn out if pot legalization is on the ballot, GWU via National Journal
Independent voters looking more like Republicans again, Rothenberg Political Report
Two years before 2016 primaries, Clinton polling like an incumbent, FiveThirtyEight

One-third of mobile phone owners used mobile banking in past year, Federal Reserve
Renting most expensive in Hawaii, D.C., CaliforniaNLIHC via Washington Post
Young adults have held an average of 6.2 jobs by age 26, BLS
In 2013, average personal income growth slowed in every state, BEA
State and local government tax revenue for 3Q, 4Q 2013, Census Bureau
Unemployment rate for veterans edges down in 2013, Bureau of Labor Statistics
New residential sales data in February, Census Bureau/HUD
High prices partly to blame for slow new home sales, The Wall Street Journal
Colleges with best returns on investment, methods, Payscale via FiveThirtyEight
Top incomes can be fleeting, CNN Money
Do big banks have lower operating costs? Economic Policy Review, New York Fed
Who benefits when the government pays more in Medicare? NBER

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Category: Data Feed

Mar 26, 2014 9:00 am

5 facts about the news business today

The last year has brought a great deal of momentum and energy to the news media industry, giving rise to new hope and optimism. But these new developments have not yet shown they can offset the underlying problems that have afflicted the news business. Here are five key findings from our latest State of the News Media report about the good news – and the bad news – about the news:

1The explosive growth over the last year at digital native sites includes a wealth of top-name journalists, but the biggest group of journalists – some 38,000 – are still employed by the newspaper industry, and their ranks have decreased dramatically in the last several years.

  • 5,000: Number of full-time editorial  jobs at nearly 500 digital news outlets.
  • 16,200: Number of full-time editorial newspaper jobs lost from 2003-2012. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: State of the News Media

Mar 26, 2014 7:30 am

Kaiser poll: Many Americans were unaware of health care law deadline

With a Monday deadline looming for uninsured Americans to sign up for health care coverage, the Obama administration yesterday announced it would give more time to those who had tried to enroll in a plan through the federal insurance marketplace, but were unable to complete the process. However, many uninsured had not known the deadline was upon them and about half said they would remain uninsured, according to a Kaiser Health Tracking poll conducted March 11-17.

Under the health care law, those who do not obtain coverage for 2014 face financial penalties of up to 1 percent of their yearly household income, or $95 a person, whichever amount is higher, although even before the deadline extension was announced, there was an array of exemptions for hardships and other reasons.

While most Americans know that the law includes fines for those who do not buy coverage, Kaiser found that just 39% of the uninsured were aware of the Monday deadline. About four-in-ten (43%) said they didn’t know the deadline (or refused to answer), 13% believed it was sometime after March and 5% were under the impression it had already passed.

Uninsured unaware of ACA sign-up deadline

When those surveyed were reminded that they could be fined for not obtaining coverage, half said they would remain uninsured while 40% said they intended to get coverage.

About two-thirds (67%) of the uninsured said they have not tried to get insurance for themselves in the last six months compared with 33% who said they did.

The requirement to obtain coverage or be fined remains an unpopular element of the law: 64% of the public has a somewhat or very unfavorable view of it compared with 35% who see it positively.

Kaiser found the public’s view of the law overall remained negative, but reported the gap has narrowed to 8 points, compared with a recent high of 16 points in November and January. Currently, 46% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the law compared with 38% who see it positively. A Pew Research Center survey conducted Feb. 27-March 16 found the public disapproved of the law by a 53% to 41% margin.

One other finding from Kaiser: Many Americans appear to be getting tired of the debate over the law four years after its enactment. Just over half (53%) expressed that view and said they wanted the country to move on to other issues while 42% believed it was important for the debate to continue.

Topics: Health Care