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Views of Job Market Tick Up, No Rise in Economic Optimism; 56% Say They Are ‘Falling Behind’ Financially

September 9, 2014 Comments off

Views of Job Market Tick Up, No Rise in Economic Optimism; 56% Say They Are ‘Falling Behind’ Financially
Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

In advance of Friday’s jobs report, the public’s assessment of job availability in their local communities has improved modestly. But that has done nothing to boost overall economic optimism.

For Americans, jobs are only part of the economic picture: 56% say their family’s incomes are falling behind the cost of living. That is about as many as said their incomes were falling behind in October 2008 (57%), during the Wall Street financial crisis.

And 45% say they have experienced one or more serious financial hardships – such as a job layoff, an inability to pay for health care or trouble with a collection agency – over the past year. Among those with low family incomes (less than $30,000 a year), fully 66% have confronted at least one serious financial problem.

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Shifting Views of Supreme Court’s Ideology among Liberals, Conservatives

August 1, 2014 Comments off

Shifting Views of Supreme Court’s Ideology among Liberals, Conservatives
Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

Overall views of the U.S. Supreme Court – and its ideology – have changed only modestly since last measured in April before the court’s end-of-term decisions, including the Hobby Lobby ruling that limits the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive requirement.

But among liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans there have been sizable changes in opinions of the court; more liberals now view the Supreme Court as conservative – and fewer conservatives view it as liberal – than did so just a few months ago.

Hamas Seen as More to Blame Than Israel for Current Violence

July 29, 2014 Comments off

Hamas Seen as More to Blame Than Israel for Current Violence
Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

As fighting continues to rage in Gaza amid calls for a cease-fire, about twice as many Americans say Hamas (40%) as Israel (19%) is responsible for the current violence.

Just a quarter (25%) believe that Israel has gone too far in responding to the conflict; far more think Israel’s response has been about right (35%) or that it has not gone far enough (15%).

The new national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted July 24-27 among 1,005 adults, finds substantial partisan divisions over which side is most responsible for the violence and Israel’s response to the conflict.

A majority of Republicans (60%) say Hamas is most responsible for the current violence. Democrats are divided: 29% say Hamas is more responsible, 26% Israel, while 18% volunteer that both sides are responsible.

There also are deep differences over Israel’s response to the conflict: Nearly half of Republicans (46%) say Israel’s response has been about right while another 19% say it has not gone far enough; just 16% think Israel’s response has been excessive. Among Democrats, as many say Israel has gone too far (35%) as say its response has been about right (31%); 9% say Israel has not gone far enough.

Political Polarization in the American Public

June 13, 2014 Comments off

Political Polarization in the American Public
Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines – and partisan antipathy is deeper and more extensive – than at any point in the last two decades. These trends manifest themselves in myriad ways, both in politics and in everyday life. And a new survey of 10,000 adults nationwide finds that these divisions are greatest among those who are the most engaged and active in the political process.

For 2016 Hopefuls, Washington Experience Could Do More Harm than Good

May 19, 2014 Comments off

For 2016 Hopefuls, Washington Experience Could Do More Harm than Good
Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

As the 2016 presidential campaign begins to take shape, Washington experience has become less of a potential asset for those seeking the White House.

A new national survey testing candidate traits finds that 30% would be less likely to support a candidate with “many years” of experience as an elected official in Washington, while 19% would be more likely to support such a candidate. About half (48%) say it would not matter if a candidate had long Washington experience.

By contrast, early in the 2008 presidential campaign, more than twice as many saw lengthy Washington experience as a positive than negative trait for a presidential candidate (35% more likely vs. 15% less likely).

America’s New Drug Policy Landscape; Two-Thirds Favor Treatment, Not Jail, for Use of Heroin, Cocaine

April 3, 2014 Comments off

America’s New Drug Policy Landscape; Two-Thirds Favor Treatment, Not Jail, for Use of Heroin, Cocaine
Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

The public appears ready for a truce in the long-running war on drugs. A national survey by the Pew Research Center finds that 67% of Americans say that the government should focus more on providing treatment for those who use illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Just 26% think the government’s focus should be on prosecuting users of such hard drugs.

Support for a treatment-based approach to illegal drug use spans nearly all demographic groups. And while Republicans are less supportive of the treatment option than are Democrats or independents, about half of Republicans (51%) say the government should focus more on treatment than prosecution in dealing with illegal drug users.

As a growing number of states ease penalties for drug possession, the public expresses increasingly positive views of the move away from mandatory sentences for non-violent drug crimes. By nearly two-to-one (63% to 32%), more say it is a good thing than a bad thing that some states have moved away from mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offenders. In 2001, Americans were evenly divided over the move by some states to abandon mandatory drug terms.

The survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Feb. 14-23 among 1,821 adults, finds that support for the legalization of marijuana use continues to increase. And fully 75% of the public –including majorities of those who favor and oppose the legal use of marijuana – think that the sale and use of marijuana will eventually be legal nationwide.

Deficit Reduction Declines as Policy Priority

January 27, 2014 Comments off

Deficit Reduction Declines as Policy Priority
Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

For the first time since Barack Obama took office in 2009, deficit reduction has slipped as a policy priority among the public. Overall, 63% say reducing the budget deficit should be a top priority for Congress and the president this year, down from 72% a year ago. Most of the decline has come among Democrats: Only about half of Democrats – 49% – view deficit reduction as a top priority, down 18 points since last January.

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