Pew Research

Striking Findings from Pew, CFM Research During 2018

Among the most striking research findings during 2018 is that a majority of US teens fear a mass shooting at the school they attend.

Among the most striking research findings during 2018 is that a majority of US teens fear a mass shooting at the school they attend.

The year is almost over and it’s time for retrospectives. Pew Research Center has shared “18 striking findings.” We have a few of our own to share.

 Here are a few of the striking findings by Pew during 2018:

  • The number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States has declined from its peak of 12.2 million in 2007.

  • The number of refugees resettled in the United States decreased more in 2017 than the rest of the world.

  • Younger Americans are better than their elders at separating fact from opinion.

  • A declining share of US Catholics say Pope Francis is doing a good job.

  • A majority of US teens fear a mass shooting at their school.

  • Almost 70 percent of Americans indicate they are worn out by the news. More Republicans say they are fatigued than Democrats.

  • Income inequality in America is greatest among Asians.

  • Bots on Twitter may be responsible for more link-sharing than human tweeters.

  • Almost 60 percent of women in the United States say they have been sexually harassed.

CFM has also been busy conducting research in 2018. Here are some of the findings we are able to share:

  • People in the Pacific Northwest are more optimistic about the way things are going than the rest of the country. Republicans are more pessimistic than Democrats.

  • Republicans and Democrats have significantly different opinions about key issues such as education and transportation. Opinions among Independents are closer to Republicans than Democrats.

  • People expect it will be decades before transportation issues are addressed adequately.

  • The share of people who rely on newspapers for information has declined by 50 percent during the past 10 years. Old-fashioned word of mouth and digital news outlets are now preferred sources.

  • Next to traffic congestion, one of the most commonly mentioned civic challenges is homelessness.

Hold onto your hat because 2019 appears like another storm approaching, with loads of opportunities to take the temperature of Americans around the country and in the Pacific Northwest.

 

Viewers Express Exhaustion with Relentless Flow of Bad News

The news can be relentless, negative and evidently exhausting, according to a New Pew Research survey. There are antidotes ranging from not watching TV, tuning into social media or asking Google to search for good news. But negative news remains alluring and as addictive as nicotine.

The news can be relentless, negative and evidently exhausting, according to a New Pew Research survey. There are antidotes ranging from not watching TV, tuning into social media or asking Google to search for good news. But negative news remains alluring and as addictive as nicotine.

Americans admit to being exhausted by the news, which can seem relentlessly negative and depressing.

According to a new Pew Research survey, Republicans admit to more fatigue than Democrats. News fatigue is more common among people who follow the news less frequently and have a lower regard for the news media. White Americans report noticeably greater news fatigue than African-Americans or Latinos.

“If you feel like there is too much news and you can’t keep up, you are not alone,” writes Jeffrey Gottfried and Michael Barthel of the Pew Research Center. “Almost seven-in-10 Americans (68%) feel worn out by the amount of news there is these days, compared with only three-in-10 who say they like the amount of news they get.”

The news tends to exhaust Republicans more (77%) than Democrats (61%), which probably has something to do with the content of the news. The Pew researchers note, “This elevated fatigue among Republicans tracks with them having less enthusiasm than Democrats for the 2018 elections.”

There are noteworthy demographic differences on the news fatigue curve. Women express more exhaustion than men. College graduates feel slightly more worn out than high school graduates. Older adults are less fatigued than younger adults. 

In light of all this exhaustion, Google has stepped in with relief from too much “negative news” by offering an assist from Google Assistant. Just say, “Hey Google, tell me something good.” Google Assistant then provides a summary of stories about “people who are solving problems for our communities and our world.” Many of the stories are plucked from the Solutions Journalism Network, which isn’t a regular contributor to mainstream news feeds.

However, the BBC says even though people may be fatigued by negative news, they are drawn to it like moths to bright light. “It isn’t just schadenfreude, we’ve evolved to react quickly to potential threats. Bad news could be a signal that we need to change what we’re doing to avoid danger.” We watch negative news for the same reasons we are drawn to the Walking Dead.

The New York Times published an article last year that suggested the more news people consume makes them yearn for “emotionality” in coverage, which often translates into negative stories. “Negativity is emphasized to keep [viewers] engaged,” according to a British psychology professor, Graham C.L. Davey. Negative news is apparently as addictive as nicotine.

One solution to “living in a Superconducting Super Collider of news with information bombarding us at a head-spinning velocity” is simply to turn to “slow news,” according to Dan Gillmor, a professor of media literacy at Arizona State University. Slow news could be as simple as plodding along without checking social media and news websites every few minutes.

News fatigue runs in cycles, often on the same wavelength as elections. As election day approaches and there is exponentially more political news, news watchers grow weary. Despite being tired, like campers who pulled an all-nighter around a campfire, they still have to watch the news so they don’t miss the latest sliver of negative news.

We do a lot of things when we are bone-tired. Watching the news, it turns out, is one of them.

Gary Conkling Image.jpg

Gary Conkling is principal and co-founder of CFM Strategic Communications, and he leads the firm's PR practice, specializing in crisis communications. He is a former journalist, who later worked on Capitol Hill and represented a major Oregon company. But most importantly, he’s a die-hard Ducks fan. You can reach Gary at garyc@cfmpdx.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @GaryConkling. 


Pew Poll Shows Split on Gene Editing Uses

Improved gene-editing technology has intensified the debate over its appropriate use. A majority of Americans think it’s okay to eliminate a congenital disorder, but not okay to create a designer baby with higher intelligence.  (Illustration Credit: Jenna Luecke and David Steadman/University of Texas at Austin)

Improved gene-editing technology has intensified the debate over its appropriate use. A majority of Americans think it’s okay to eliminate a congenital disorder, but not okay to create a designer baby with higher intelligence. (Illustration Credit: Jenna Luecke and David Steadman/University of Texas at Austin)

Technology can work wonders. It also can generate mind-numbing questions, which is the case for gene editing.

According to a new Pew Research survey, a majority of Americans support gene editing to eliminate serious congenital illnesses before birth, but have serious reservations about using the technology to “make a child more intelligent.”

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The prospect of designer babies has been a topic of debate for decades. Now the possibility is closer to reality because of improved gene-splicing capability. Pew notes that its previous surveys reflect a similar ambivalence to gene-editing technology that turns on its intended use.

The debate over gene editing ranges from medical to ethical policy considerations. It has religious and political overtones as well. Pew says “highly religious Americans” are more likely to view gene editing as “taking medical technology too far.” An even broader concern shows up in polling over the use of embryonic testing to perfect gene editing technology.

There also are differences of opinion between men and women. Pew says men are more apt than women to view gene editing for babies as appropriate. Not surprisingly, people with higher levels of science knowledge tend to regard gene editing as appropriate.

Supporters and skeptics share a common perspective that negative effects of gene editing, such as unintended health impacts, will eclipse positive effects. The exception are people with science backgrounds who have more faith in positive effects. Atheists see more positive effects as likely, too.

 

Pew Tracks Partisan Split Over ‘Openness to World’

A recent Pew Research survey shows a sharp partisan divide on whether we should welcome or resist an open world view.

A recent Pew Research survey shows a sharp partisan divide on whether we should welcome or resist an open world view.

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Americans overall embrace an openness to the people of the world, but the difference in viewpoints between Democrats and Republicans is staggering.

Pew Research found 68 percent of Americans view “openness to people from all over the world is essential to who we are as a nation.” However, that masks that 84 percent of Democrats agree with that view as contrasted to only 47 percent of Republicans.

The finding provides context for the reaction – and non-reaction – to President Trump’s controversial comment last week about immigrants from “shithole countries.”

The Pew survey, conducted last summer among 2,505 US adults, showed general agreement among all age groups and levels of education to an openness to the people from around the world. The glaring difference was between Americans who identified as Democrats or Republicans.

On a separate question, 48 percent of Republicans said openness to people from around the world could “risk losing our identity as a nation.” Only 14 percent of Democrats share that concern.

Views are somewhat less divisive over the question of increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the United States. Seventy-six percent of Democrats agree diversity will make the United States a “better place to live,” compared to 51 percent of Republicans.

The data confirms what has been obvious since 1968 in American electoral history. Following passage in Congress with Democratic majorities of civil rights and voting rights legislation, voting patterns in the Deep South switched from Democratic to Republican. That may have been accompanied by a realignment of party affiliation. Regardless, there is a clear distinction on world view and immigration between parties.

The partisan split on world view is not mirrored to the same extent by race, age or education. Younger people are the most open in their world view and older people the least open, but in both cases their openness sharply exceeds that of people identifying as Republican or conservative.

A Pew Research survey earlier last year found 64 percent of Americans viewed increasing racial and ethnic diversity as a positive. The biggest difference in the survey was among Democrats (76 percent) and Republicans (51 percent).

It would be fair to speculate that Trump understands these numbers and calibrates his statements and tweets to appeal to his political base that questions openness to the world and fears the upshot of increasing diversity in America.

More curious is the blind spot in many Americans’ world view to the economic benefit to the United States of global trade and capital flows.

 

Younger Voters Eclipsed Older Voters in 2016 Election

 The 2016 election marked a milepost as Millennials and Gen Xers cast more ballots than their older counterparts, which should signal new campaign and policy approaches to younger voters who are better educated, more secular and less reliable to cast ballots.

 The 2016 election marked a milepost as Millennials and Gen Xers cast more ballots than their older counterparts, which should signal new campaign and policy approaches to younger voters who are better educated, more secular and less reliable to cast ballots.

The 2016 general election will go down in history for a lot of things, including the first time Millennial and Gen X voters eclipsed older voters.

Based on an analysis of Census Bureau data conducted by Pew Research, 69.6 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 51 voted in the 2016 election. Baby Boomers and older generations cast 67.9 million ballots.

More young people become eligible to vote while older people die or emigrate. While the result isn’t surprising, it marks a milepost in US demography when younger, next-generation voters become a majority, which will influence how political campaigns are focused.

Conventional wisdom is that younger voters lean Democratic. Numbers bear that out, but also is a hint that a chunk of Millennials are more conservative than Gen X or Baby Boomers were at the same age. It also may be true, as evidenced by strong support among younger voters for the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders, that younger Democrats are more liberal than their older counterparts.

NPR’s Danielle Kurtzleben reports they may be even deeper polarization among Millennials than previous generations. If so, that could complicate any efforts to lower the volume on political discourse and exert more energy looking for common ground.

In addition to greater political polarization, Millennials overall have fewer religious ties and are better educated. They are less white and more Latino. There is also a question about their motivation to vote. Gen Xers and Millennials as age cohorts outgrew Boomers and older generations before 2016, but voter participation rates lagged behind. Pew found only half of Millennials voted in the 2016 election compared to two-thirds for older cohorts, which may have played a role in tipping the presidential election to Donald Trump.

What bears watching is how Millennials settle in as voters. Exit polls in the 2012 presidential election showed GOP challenger Mitt Romney beating President Obama by 2 percentage points among whites ages 18 to 29 with at least a four-year college degree. Four years later, Hillary Clinton beat Trump among college-educated white people by 15 percentage points. Trump scored well with young white voters who identified as evangelicals or lived in rural areas or states with large white majorities. Clinton’s large margin of votes from younger votes was canceled out when many Millennials lost interest after the presidential primaries or voted for third-party candidates.

Voters Express Exhaustion Over Campaign Coverage

A Pew Research Center poll shows a majority of Americans are already exhausted from all the news media coverage of the 2016 presidential election – with four more months of campaigning still to go.

A Pew Research Center poll shows a majority of Americans are already exhausted from all the news media coverage of the 2016 presidential election – with four more months of campaigning still to go.

Voters feel exhausted from media coverage of the 2016 presidential election, but not because of too much attention paid to candidate positions on important issues.

A new Pew Research Center Poll conducted from June 7 to July 5 finds 59 percent of respondents worn out from election news with four months of campaigning yet to go. But almost the same number of respondents say they feel shortchanged by the amount of coverage focused on policy questions.

Forty-four percent of respondents think there has been too much attention paid to candidate comments and 43 percent say the personal lives of candidates has also gotten too much ink and air time.

Some 45 percent of respondents believe the candidates' experience level has been overlooked. That view is especially strong among respondents identifying themselves as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents.

Those expressing the most exhaustion with election coverage are younger adults, women, whites and independents, Pew Research says. Almost two-thirds of 18 to 29 year olds said they are worn out.

A separate Pew Research poll in June gleaned that 65 percent of registered voters felt the presidential campaigns had failed to focus on important policy issues. That view held across party lines. So it is little wonder that Pew Research found 55 percent of respondents thought media coverage of the actual issues was thin.

Respondents had mixed views about coverage of candidates' moral character (30 percent too much, 34 percent too little, 33 percent just right) and who is leading in the polls (37 percent too little, 46 percent just right, 13 percent too little).

An earlier Pew Research survey found relatively strong interest among voters in the 2016 presidential campaign. The amount of coverage is less likely to weigh down close followers of the election (41 percent) and more likely to fatigue those who are barely paying attention (69 percent).

The next few weeks will be chock-full of political coverage as Republicans and Democrats hold their national conventions to nominate their standard bearers. But the 2016 Olympics start in August, which could provide a short reprieve before a barrage of political TV ads begin in the fall.