Jan 20, 2017 7:02 am

6 things we’ve learned since the 2016 election

It has been a tumultuous 10 weeks since Donald Trump won his stunning election victory, and on Friday he will be inaugurated as the nation’s 45th president. Here are six important findings from our U.S. political surveys since the election.

1Trump remains historically unpopular. Trump ended the 2016 campaign with the worst favorability ratings in history, according to Gallup. Today, public views of how he has handled his transition to the White House are the lowest for any president dating back to George H.W. Bush.

Just 39% approve of the job Trump has done in explaining his plans and policies, while 41% approve of his high-level appointments, according to a Pew Research Center  national survey, conducted Jan. 4-9 among 1,502 adults. These opinions have changed little since December.

In January 2009, just before Barack Obama’s inauguration, 70% approved of the job he had done explaining his plans and policies for the future and 66% said they approved of his Cabinet selections.  Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Political Polarization, Presidential Approval, U.S. Political Figures, U.S. Political Parties

Jan 19, 2017 3:00 pm

6 facts about faith and the inauguration

President Obama places his hand on two Bibles held by first lady Michelle Obama as his recites the oath of office during swearing-in ceremonies on the West front of the U.S Capitol in Washington. (Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)
President Obama places his hand on two Bibles held by first lady Michelle Obama as he recites the oath of office before the U.S Capitol to begin his second term on Jan. 21, 2013. (Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)

The trappings of religion have long been part of U.S. presidential inaugurations. Amid the secular pomp that heralds the start of a presidency are prayer services, an invocation and benediction, and a traditional (if extraconstitutional) mention of God in the presidential oath of office.

As the country prepares for the inauguration of its 45th president, Donald Trump, here are six facts about faith and Inauguration Day events:

1Trump, a Presbyterian, plans to attend a private pre-inaugural prayer service with his family at St. John’s Episcopal Church, located a block from the White House. The pre-inaugural morning service is a tradition of sorts for St. John’s, which hosted similar events before the swearings-in of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The church, founded in 1815, claims that every sitting president since James Madison (who served from 1809 to 1817 as the fourth president) has attended a service there.  Read More

Topics: Christians and Christianity, Federal Government, Religion and Government, Religion and U.S. Politics

Jan 19, 2017 2:30 pm

Trump’s Cabinet will be one of most business-heavy in U.S. history

Should all of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees eventually be confirmed, he will start his administration with one of the most heavily business-oriented Cabinets in U.S. history.

Five of the 15 people Trump has nominated to be Cabinet secretaries have spent all or nearly all their careers in the business world, with no significant public office or senior military service on their résumés. That would be more businesspeople with no public-sector experience than have ever served in the Cabinet at any one time, according to a review and analysis by the Pew Research Center.

Before Trump, Ronald Reagan set the mark for bringing the most career businesspeople into the Cabinet. Four of Reagan’s initial 13 department heads in his first term were corporate executives. Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Business and Labor, Federal Government, U.S. Political Figures

Jan 19, 2017 7:02 am

Many around the world say women’s equality is very important

The principle of gender equality is one that has taken root in many nations around the world. In a 2015 survey of 38 nations, majorities in all but one country (Burkina Faso) said it is somewhat or very important that women have the same rights as men in their society. And a median of 65% worldwide said these equal rights are very important.

This sentiment was strongest in North America, Europe and Latin America. In 2015, roughly nine-in-ten or more in the U.S. (91%) and Canada (94%) said gender equality was very important. A median of 86% in Europe and 80% in Latin America held the same view.  Read More

Topics: Gender, Social Values

Jan 18, 2017 1:31 pm

U.S. Catholics, non-Catholics continue to view Pope Francis favorably

Some world leaders begin their tenures with high favorability ratings – only to see their popularity fall over time. But, in the U.S., Pope Francis remains as popular as ever, with seven-in-ten Americans saying their opinion of the pontiff is “very” or “mostly” favorable, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

When Francis began his papacy in March of 2013, 57% of Americans held a favorable view of him, while 14% held an unfavorable view and 29% couldn’t give him a rating. Now, seven-in-ten Americans express a favorable view of Francis, while 19% express an unfavorable opinion and just 11% say they don’t know enough to be able to rate the pontiff.  Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Religious Leaders

Jan 18, 2017 12:31 pm

Fewer Americans plan to watch inauguration this year than in 2009

About half of Americans (46%) say they plan to watch as Donald Trump takes the presidential oath of office on Friday, while 51% say they do not intend to watch the inauguration.

Interest in Trump’s inaugural is lower than for Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, when two-thirds of Americans (67%) said they were planning to watch. It is also lower than for Bill Clinton’s first inaugural in 1993, when 57% said they intended to watch. (The question was not asked when George W. Bush took office in 2001.)

There is a wide partisan gap over plans to watch the inauguration, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, conducted Jan. 4-9 among 1,502 adults. About seven-in-ten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (69%) say they will watch the event, compared with just 30% of Democrats and Democratic leaners.

Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Political Polarization, U.S. Political Figures, U.S. Political Parties

Jan 18, 2017 6:53 am

U.S. still has a ways to go in meeting Obama’s goal of producing more college grads

In his first address to a joint session of Congress in February 2009, President Barack Obama said that, by 2020, America should “once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.” The White House and U.S. Department of Education indicated that the president’s goal would be met if 60% of 25- to 34-year-olds had completed at least an associate degree by 2020.

Based on the conventional statistics used to gauge educational attainment, the nation has made some progress toward this 2020 goal during the Obama years. In March 2009, 41% of 25- to 34-year-olds had completed at least an associate degree. By March 2016, 48% of young adults had done so.

Still, as Obama’s time in office nears its end, the U.S. remains 12 percentage points short of the goal. More progress will need to be made over the next four years than has been made over the past seven if the 2020 goal is to be reached.  Read More

Topics: College, Education, Educational Attainment, Gender, Political Issue Priorities, Race and Ethnicity

Jan 17, 2017 10:02 am

Female police officers’ on-the-job experiences diverge from those of male officers

A New York Police Department officer near Ground Zero in Manhattan in 2011. (iStock.com)
New York Police Department officers near Ground Zero in Manhattan in 2011. (iStock.com)

In recent decades, women have accounted for a growing share of America’s police officers, but this growth has been relatively slow and women remain underrepresented in the field. They also sometimes differ sharply from male officers in their views of policing and their experiences, according to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted by the National Police Research Platform.

Women accounted for 12% of full-time local police officers in 2013 (the latest data available) – up from 8% in 1987, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Women made up even smaller shares in department leadership: About one-in-ten supervisors or managers and just 3% of local police chiefs were women in 2013.

The nationwide survey of 7,917 police officers in departments with at least 100 officers finds that many female officers think men in their department are treated better than women when it comes to assignments and promotions. About four-in-ten female officers (43%) say this is the case, compared with just 6% of male officers. By contrast, a third of male officers say women are treated better than men when it comes to assignments and promotions in their department – but just 6% of women say this is the case. Six-in-ten male officers and half of female officers say men and women are treated about the same.  Read More

Topics: Criminal Justice, Gender, Violence and Society, Work and Employment

Jan 13, 2017 3:25 pm

Surge in Cuban immigration to U.S. continued through 2016

The number of Cubans entering the U.S. has spiked dramatically since President Barack Obama announced a renewal of ties with the island nation in late 2014, a Pew Research Center analysis of government data shows. The U.S. has since opened an embassy in Havana, a move supported by a large majority of Americans, and public support is growing for ending the trade embargo with Cuba.

On Thursday, the White House announced its latest step in policy toward Cuba by ending a long-standing policy that treated Cubans seeking to enter the U.S. differently from other immigrants. Under the old policy, Cubans hoping to legally live in the U.S. needed only to show up at a port of entry and pass an inspection, which included a check of criminal and immigration history in the U.S. After a year in the country, they were allowed to apply for legal permanent residence. The new policy makes Cubans who attempt to enter the U.S. without a visa subject to removal, whether they arrive by sea or port of entry.

Overall, 56,406 Cubans entered the U.S. via ports of entry in fiscal year 2016, up 31% from fiscal 2015 when 43,159 Cubans entered the same way, according to the latest U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. Fiscal 2015 saw an even larger surge, as Cuban entries jumped 78% over 2014, when 24,278 Cubans entered the U.S. And those 2014 numbers had already increased dramatically from previous years after the Cuban government lifted travel restrictions that year. Read More

Topics: Bilateral Relations, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration, Immigration Trends, Latin America, Migration

Jan 13, 2017 12:30 pm

More Americans say government should ensure health care coverage

As the debate continues over repeal of the Affordable Care Act and what might replace it, a growing share of Americans believe that the federal government has a responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Currently, 60% of Americans say the government should be responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans, compared with 38% who say this should not be the government’s responsibility. The share saying it is the government’s responsibility has increased from 51% last year and now stands at its highest point in nearly a decade.

Just as there are wide differences between Republicans and Democrats about the 2010 health care law, the survey also finds partisan differences in views on whether it’s the government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage. More than eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (85%) say the federal government should be responsible for health care coverage, compared with just 32% of Republicans and Republican leaners.  Read More

Topics: Domestic Affairs and Policy, Federal Government, Health Care