Among the collateral damage from the coronavirus pandemic has been the U.S. economy and the federal budget. The pandemic has caused massive economic disruption, and the government’s response has pushed the federal budget further out of balance than it’s been in nearly eight decades. But Americans appear to be slightly less concerned about the deficit than they have been in recent years.
In a Pew Research Center survey conducted June 16-22, just under half of U.S. adults (47%) called the deficit “a very big problem” in the country today – down from 55% in the fall of 2018. Over roughly that same period, the deficit grew from $779.1 billion at the end of fiscal 2018 to $2.8 trillion as of the end of July, according to data reported Wednesday by the Treasury Department. (The federal fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.)
Aug. 18 marks the 100-year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women in the United States the right to vote. As this milestone approaches, about half of Americans (49%) say granting women the right to vote has been the most important milestone in advancing the position of women in the country, according to a Pew Research Center study. And while many Americans say the last decade has seen progress in the fight for gender equality, a majority say the country still hasn’t gone far enough in giving women equal rights with men.
Here are some key takeaways from the report, which was based on a nationally representative survey of 3,143 U.S. adults conducted online from March 18-April 1, 2020.
Companies from Silicon Valley to Wall Street have publicly denounced racism since the protests following the killing of George Floyd. But Americans are divided on whether it’s important for firms to weigh in on political and social issues. And they are more likely to believe pressure from others – more than genuine concern for Black people – has driven recent statements about race, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
Overall, 52% of U.S. adults say it is very or somewhat important that companies and organizations make public statements about political or social issues, while a similar share (48%) say this is not too or not at all important, according to the July 13-19 survey.
Americans’ views vary substantially by race and ethnicity. While most Black (75%), Asian (70%) and Hispanic adults (66%) say it is at least somewhat important that companies and organizations release statements about political or social issues, this share falls to 42% among white adults.
Republicans and Democrats differ in their opinions on many aspects of the coronavirus outbreak, including their levels of concern about the safety of various activities. These partisan gaps extend to views about religious practices during the pandemic – although majorities in both parties say that houses of worship should be subject to virus-related restrictions, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
Two-thirds of Republicans and independents who lean toward the Republican Party say that houses of worship should be required to follow the same rules about social distancing and large gatherings as other organizations and businesses in their local area, compared with a third who say they should be allowed more flexibility. An even bigger majority of Democrats and Democratic leaners – 93% – believe houses of worship should be required to follow local rules about social distancing and large gatherings without exemptions from coronavirus-related regulations.
When asked what they think their own house of worship should be doing, the survey finds substantial differences between Republican and Democratic religious attenders – but majorities in both groups favor some level of caution about the virus. (In this analysis, regular attenders are those who said before the pandemic that they typically attend services at least once or twice a month, as well as those who attended in person in the last month prior to when the survey was conducted July 13 to 19.)
People in many countries are supportive of foreign companies building factories in their own nation. But they are more wary of foreign companies buying domestic firms, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 15 nations in spring 2019.
Across the countries surveyed in 2019, a median of 72% of adults said it is a good thing when foreign companies build factories in their nation, while 26% said it is a bad thing. By comparison, a median of 40% said it is a good thing when foreign entities buy domestic firms, while 58% said it is a bad thing. In all countries surveyed, support was significantly higher for foreign companies building factories than for these companies buying domestic companies outright.
Majorities in 13 of the 15 nations said foreign companies building new factories in their country – sometimes referred to as greenfield investment – is a good thing.
Nearly three-quarters of white adults who report that they regularly attend religious services (72%) say they are “very” or “somewhat” confident they could safely attend in-person services right now at their regular house of worship without spreading or catching the coronavirus. By contrast, around half of Black (49%) and Hispanic (51%) Americans who are similarly observant express such confidence. The other half of Black and Hispanic attenders say they are “not too” or “not at all” confident they could safely go to in-person religious services right now without spreading or catching the virus, according to the survey, which was conducted July 13 to 19.
In this analysis, regular religious service attenders are defined as those who said in a 2019 survey that they typically attend services at least once or twice a month or say in the new survey that they attended in-person services in the last month.
The coronavirus outbreak stopped much of the world in its tracks in early 2020 and continues to cast doubt on the well-being of households and communities around the globe. But even before the pandemic, many people around the world felt pessimistic about income inequality, governance and job opportunities, according to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center in spring 2019.
Across 34 countries surveyed, a median of 65% of adults said they felt generally pessimistic about reducing the gap between the rich and the poor in their country.Many also held doubts about the way their political system works (median of 54%) and the availability of well-paying jobs in their country (53%). When it comes to their country’s education system, however, more people expressed optimism than pessimism (53% vs. 41%).
Americans have mixed views about whether K-12 schools in their area should offer in-person instruction, online instruction or a combination of both as the coronavirus outbreak intensifies across much of the country. And while the public sees health risks to students and teachers as the top factor that should be given a lot of consideration as schools decide whether to reopen, there are wide partisan gaps in these views, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
Overall, about three-in-ten U.S. adults (28%) say that, all things considered, K-12 schools in the area where they live should provide online instruction five days a week in the fall, while a smaller share (19%) say schools should provide in-person instruction five days a week. The largest share of Americans (36%) say K-12 schools in their area should provide a mix of online and in-person instruction.
Among parents with children who will be enrolled in elementary, middle or high school in the fall, 32% say K-12 schools in their area should offer online instruction five days a week, while a similar share (34%) say schools should offer a mix of online and in-person instruction. About a quarter of these parents (23%) say schools in their area should offer in-person instruction five days a week.
A robust public polling industry is a marker of a free society. It’s a testament to the ability of organizations outside the government to gather and publish information about the well-being of the public and citizens’ views on major issues. In nations without robust polling, the head of government can simply decree citizens’ wants and needs instead.
After the 2016 presidential election, some observers understandably questioned whether polling in the United States is still up to the task of producing accurate information. Errors in 2016 laid bare some real limitations of polling, even as clear-eyed reviews of national polls in both 2016 and 2018 found that polls still perform well when done carefully.
One way to help avoid a repeat of the skepticism about surveys that followed the last presidential election is to narrow the gap between perception and reality when it comes to how polling works. People have many notions about polling – often based on an introductory statistics class, but sometimes even less – that are frequently false. The real environment in which polls are conducted bears little resemblance to the idealized settings presented in textbooks.
With that in mind, here are some key points the public should know about polling heading into this year’s presidential election.
Indeed, many legislators in these four countries – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom – directly addressed Floyd’s killing and the subsequent protests on their Twitter accounts, according to a new analysis by the Center. The analysis looks at predominantly English-speaking countries where lawmaker tweets can be analyzed in a standardized way, but these nations are far from the only ones where Floyd’s death has commanded attention among political leaders.
A 59% majority of British members of Parliament who tweeted between May 26 and June 10 posted about Floyd or used the phrase “Black lives matter” or the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, according to the new analysis. Smaller percentages of national legislators in Canada (44%), Australia (26%) and New Zealand (14%) did so, too.
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.