Most Americans, including majorities of both Republicans and Democrats, see higher education as a gateway to good job opportunities.
However, a recent Pew Research Center survey finds that Republicans are much more skeptical than Democrats when it comes to whether colleges and universities are open to different points of view. This partisan gap is not just limited to views of these institutions – Republicans also are less likely than Democrats to see community colleges and K-12 public schools as open to a wide range of opinions and viewpoints.
Overall, about two-thirds of Americans (68%) say colleges and universities are very or somewhat open to a wide range of opinions and viewpoints; 31% say they are not too or not at all open. But among Republicans and those who lean to the Republican Party, 44% believe colleges and universities are at least somewhat open to a wide range of views. Democrats and Democratic leaners are nearly twice as likely (87%) to feel this way.
President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on four first-term lawmakers – all women of color – triggered an impassioned response from House Democrats, who overwhelmingly backed a House resolution condemning the president’s remarks. This is just the latest chapter in a long-running debate over what language is appropriate in political debates in the United States. A recent Pew Research Center survey examined Americans’ attitudes about this topic, including Trump’s impact on political discourse and the potential risks from incendiary rhetoric from elected officials:
1Large majorities of Americans say the tone and nature of political debate in the United States has become more negative in recent years. More than eight-in-ten U.S. adults (85%) say that political debate in the country has become more negative and less respectful, according to a survey conducted this spring. About three-quarters (76%) say it has become less fact-based and 60% say it has become less focused on issues.
A majority of Americans (62%) continue to say the country’s openness to people from around the world is “essential to who we are as a nation.”
But the share expressing this view is 6 percentage points lower than it was in September – a result of a shift in opinion among Republicans. Democrats continue to overwhelmingly take the view that openness is an essential characteristic of the nation.
Currently, 57% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say that if the United States is too open to people from around the world, “we risk losing our identity as a nation.” Fewer (37%) say America’s openness to those from other countries is essential to who we are as a nation, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted July 10-15 among 1,502 adults.
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, which was the first time humans set foot on the moon. The United States remains the only country to have put people on the moon, and, as of 2018, the large majority of Americans consider it essential that the U.S. continue to be a leader in space exploration. However, many Americans do not think future manned trips to the moon – or to Mars – should be a high priority for NASA. Instead, they put higher priority on other roles such as monitoring Earth’s climate or asteroids that could hit Earth.
Here are six Pew Research Center findings about Americans’ views of space travel.
1Most Americans think sending astronauts to Mars or the moon should be a lower priority for NASA – or say it should not be done at all. While a majority of Americans (58%) said in a 2018 survey that human astronauts are essential to the future of the U.S. space program, less than one-in-five describe sending human astronauts to Mars (18%) or the moon (13%) as top priorities for NASA. Americans are more likely to rate these goals as “important but lower priorities” (45% and 42%, respectively), or to say they are not important or should not be done at all (37% and 44%).
NASA has not put a human on the surface of the moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. But just last month, NASA announced plans to put the first woman on the moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis program. The program also aims to put human beings on the surface of Mars by the 2030s.
Pew Research Center conducts polls in many countries other than the United States. But the methodology behind our international surveys can vary from country to country, and what works in one place might not work in another.
In the latest installment of our Methods 101 video series, we look at some of the challenges of international polling. These include government restrictions on survey work, political or social instability that can make it unsafe for interviewers to do their jobs, and a lack of qualified partners who can help administer surveys locally.
Pew Research Center just published its 10th annual report analyzing restrictions on religion (by both governments and individuals or groups in society) around the world. This year’s report differs from past reports because it focuses on changes that have occurred over the course of a decade, covering 2007 to 2017, rather than emphasizing year-to-year variations. Another new approach this year involves splitting each of two broad types of religious restrictions – government restrictions and social hostilities – into four subcategories. This provides a clearer picture of the specific types of religious restrictions that people face – and how they are changing over time.
Here are key findings from the report:
1Government restrictions on religion have increased globally between 2007 and 2017 in all four categories studied: favoritism of religious groups, general laws and policies restricting religious freedom, harassment of religious groups, and limits on religious activity. The most common types of restrictions globally have consistently been the first two. Governments often enshrine favoritism toward a certain religious group or groups in their constitutions or basic laws. And general laws and policies restricting religious freedom can cover a wide range of restrictions, including a requirement that religious groups register in order to operate. But one of the more striking increases involved the category of government limits on religious activities, which can include limits or requirements on religious dress. The global mean score in this category rose by about 44% between 2007 and 2017.
President Donald Trump is a prolific Twitter user, using the social media site to promote his policies and criticize his opponents. But determining just how many Americans follow Trump on the platform is more challenging than it may sound: Twitter, after all, is an international platform used by institutional accounts and bots as well as living, breathing people in the United States.
A new Pew Research Center analysis estimates that around one-in-five adult Twitter users in the U.S. (19%) follow Trump’s personal account on the platform, @realDonaldTrump. Trump’s immediate predecessor, Barack Obama (@BarackObama), is followed by 26% of U.S. adult Twitter users. Bill Clinton is the only other former president with a public Twitter account, followed by 6% of adult users. (George W. Bush has a private account and former president Jimmy Carter does not have a personal Twitter account.)
The analysis goes beyond simply counting each president’s number of followers, which can include institutional or automated accounts, people in other countries and people younger than 18. Instead, it is based on a nationally representative sample of 2,388 U.S. adults who use Twitter and gave the Center permission to review their personal accounts, including who they follow. Researchers identified any accounts each respondent followed between December 2018 and July 2019.
The way Pew Research Center calculates the estimated number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States is the product of decades of work by Jeffrey S. Passel, senior demographer, along with former colleagues at the U.S. Census Bureau and the Urban Institute. Passel has written numerous studies on the demography of immigration and on immigration issues. Following are his answers to some common questions about the research techniques used to derive the unauthorized immigrant population estimate.
What were the challenges in developing the estimate of unauthorized immigrants?
I’ve been working on this problem since roughly 1979. So, it’s not a new one. When we started, there really wasn’t very good information at all. The numbers available were speculative, with a very broad range. People were talking about maybe 6 million, maybe 12 million – all of which turned out to be too high. I was working at the Census Bureau and it was important to get some sound, empirical information on this population. We needed the numbers for a lot of different purposes at the time. The challenge was finding data sources that included unauthorized immigrants. We weren’t sure they were showing up in the census and our surveys, but as we looked into the issue, it became apparent that our standard data sources did include unauthorized immigrants. That discovery led us to a variation of the methodology we’re still using.
Depression has become increasingly common among American teenagers – especially teen girls, who are now almost three times as likely as teen boys to have had recent experiences with depression.
In 2017, 13% of U.S. teens ages 12 to 17 (or 3.2 million) said they had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year, up from 8% (or 2 million) in 2007, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
One-in-five teenage girls – or nearly 2.4 million – had experienced at least one major depressive episode (the proxy measure of depression used in this analysis) over the past year in 2017. By comparison, 7% of teenage boys (or 845,000) had at least one major depressive episode in the past 12 months.
Americans have complicated views about the role social media companies should play in removing offensive content from their platforms.
A sizable majority of U.S. adults (66%) say social media companies have a responsibility to remove offensive content from their platforms, but just 31% have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in these companies to determine what offensive content should be removed.
A further twist: Nearly half (48%) say that in thinking about the kind of language people use, it is “hard to know what others might find offensive,” according to a recent Pew Research Center survey on the tone of political debate in the United States.
Opinions about the role social media companies should play in addressing offensive content are divided by partisanship, gender and age. Republican men – particularly younger men – stand out for their view that social media companies do not have a responsibility to remove offensive content from their platforms. (A 2017 Pew Research Center survey found that Republican men also were less likely than Republican women – and Democratic women or men – to say online harassment was a major problem.)
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.