After the Democratic and Republican party conventions, the next big events on the U.S. political calendar are the debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates, which has sponsored the events since 1988, has scheduled three debates between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, on Sept. 29, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22, and one debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris on Oct. 7.
Although the debates have long been criticized on both substantive and stylistic grounds, they remain a major part of the way Americans elect their presidents. Here are five important things to know before the first debate kicks off next month in Cleveland.
Scientists are held in high esteem by most Americans, with public confidence in scientists outpacing that for other prominent groups, but Black adults are significantly less likely than White adults to share that view.
While views of scientists generally tilt positive, there’s a 14-point gap between the shares of White and Black adults who say they have a great deal of confidence in scientists (41% vs. 27%). And while most adults in both groups have at least a fair amount of confidence in scientists, Black adults are about twice as likely as White adults to say they have not too much or no confidence in scientists to act in the public interest (21% vs. 11%).
U.S. Hispanics rate scientists about the same as White adults do, expressing more confidence in them than Black adults do.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, a growing share of Americans say they are regularly wearing a mask or face covering in stores and other businesses. More than eight-in-ten U.S. adults (85%) say they have done so all or most of the time over the past month, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Aug. 3 to 16. When asked the same question in early June, 65% of Americans said they had been regularly wearing masks.
The partisan divide has narrowed during this period, and solid majorities in both party coalitions now report regularly wearing masks. In the new survey, 92% of Democrats and those who lean toward the Democratic Party say they usually wear masks in stores and other businesses, as do 76% of Republicans and GOP leaners. In June, 76% of Democrats said they had usually worn masks in stores and other businesses over the past month, compared with a little over half of Republicans and GOP leaners (53%). The partisan gap is now 16 percentage points, down from 23 points this spring.
In the new survey, 82% of adults under age 30 say they regularly wear a mask – up 20 percentage points since June, when 62% said they did so. The youngest adults are now nearly on par with those ages 65 and older, 88% of whom say they have usually worn masks to stores over the past month as of mid-August, up from 74% in the spring.
Recent surveys by Pew Research Center and other organizations have shown public divides over science-related issues such as climate change and food science. But public confidence in the scientific community as a whole has remained stable for decades, according to data collected by NORC, an independent research organization at the University of Chicago.
In the group’s 2018 General Social Survey, the most recent available, 44% of Americans overall have a great deal of confidence in the scientific community, while 47% have only some confidence and 7% have hardly any. This was roughly the same share as in 2016, when 40% said they had a great deal of confidence in scientific leaders. (The 4-percentage-point uptick does not reach statistical significance.)
Public confidence in the scientific community stands out as among the most stable of about a dozen institutions rated in the GSS since the mid-1970s. Confidence in medicine has been somewhat less stable, however. It declined in the early 1990s and has ticked downward again in more recent years, from 41% in 2010 to 36% in 2016 and 37% in NORC’s most recent survey.
As Election Day draws closer, it is difficult to recall a presidential election for which the act of voting has been more contentious and potentially more confusing. Voters living in states with different voting procedures have divergent views about the challenges of voting this fall – with the sharpest differences among those who support Joe Biden for president, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.
In general, voters in states where elections are conducted solely by mail or where absentee ballots are widely available are more likely than those in other states to say it will be easy to vote for them personally. About six-in-ten registered voters (61%) in the five states where elections are conducted entirely by mail expect voting to be easy. That compares with about half (53%) of voters in the four states and Washington, D.C., that do not conduct their elections entirely by mail but will be mailing ballots to all registered voters, and in the 34 states where mail ballots are available to any voters by request this year (51%). (See the appendix for details about the state classification.)
Supporters of Donald Trump and Joe Biden do not just disagree over major national issues and the country’s direction. They also differ over the factors behind U.S. success and the merits of acknowledging the nation’s historical flaws.
A large majority of registered voters (71%) say that “it makes the U.S. stronger when we acknowledge the country’s historical flaws.” About three-in-ten voters (28%) say “the U.S. may not have been perfect, but focusing on its historical flaws makes the country weaker.”
An overwhelming majority of registered voters who support Biden (87%) say that acknowledging the country’s historical flaws makes the U.S. stronger. Trump supporters are evenly divided: Almost half (47%) say focusing on historical flaws makes the country weaker, while 51% say that acknowledging flaws makes the country stronger.
More than three and a half years into his administration, President Donald Trump’s approval ratings have remained remarkably stable. There also has been a wider gap between Republicans’ and Democrats’ views of Trump than for any other U.S. president in the modern era of polling.
About four-in-ten Americans (38%) approve of Trump’s job performance, while 59% disapprove, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Although Trump experienced a slight bump in approval ratings at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak – 45% of the public in March and 44% of the public in April said they approved of the way Trump was handling his job – his approval ratings have settled back to where they were before the pandemic hit the United States.
Trump’s relatively steady ratings are unique among recent presidents. And while his ratings are also the most polarized along party lines in the modern era, this divide represents a continuation of a trend seen in assessments of recent presidents, including Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
Use of the term Latinx by members of the U.S. Congress on social media has increased substantially in recent years, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis. One-quarter of lawmakers mentioned the term on Facebook or Twitter during the 116th Congress, up from just 2% who did so during the 114th Congress. By contrast, a recent survey of U.S. Hispanics by the Center found that 23% had heard of the term Latinx but just 3% use it to describe themselves.
Latinx is a gender-neutral or nonbinary term used to describe people who are of or relate to Latin American origin or descent. It has emerged as a pan-ethnic alternative to Latino, Latina and Hispanic in recent years.
For this analysis, tweets and Facebook posts were classified as mentioning “Latinx,” “Latino,” “Latina” or “Hispanic” if they used those specific words – regardless of capitalization – in the text of the post. (Images and other attachments were not included.) Posts using Latino, Latina or both were combined for analysis as “Latino/Latina.”
Dating has always come with challenges. But the advent of dating apps and other new technologies – as well as the #MeToo movement – presents a new set of norms and expectations for American singles looking for casual or committed relationships, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.
Some 15% of U.S. adults say they are single and looking for a committed relationship or casual dates. Among them, most say they are dissatisfied with their dating lives, according to the survey, which was conducted in October 2019 – before the coronavirus pandemic shook up the dating scene. Here are some additional key findings from the study.
The United States has more immigrants than any other country in the world. Today, more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country, accounting for about one-fifth of the world’s migrants. The population of immigrants is also very diverse, with just about every country in the world represented among U.S. immigrants.
Pew Research Center regularly publishes statistical portraits of the nation’s foreign-born population, which include historical trends since 1960. Based on these portraits, here are answers to some key questions about the U.S. immigrant population.
How many people in the U.S. are immigrants?
The U.S. foreign-born population reached a record 44.8 million in 2018. Since 1965, when U.S. immigration laws replaced a national quota system, the number of immigrants living in the U.S. has more than quadrupled. Immigrants today account for 13.7% of the U.S. population, nearly triple the share (4.8%) in 1970. However, today’s immigrant share remains below the record 14.8% share in 1890, when 9.2 million immigrants lived in the U.S.
About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts.