Tag Archives: pew research center

Study: Republicans are far less interested than Democrats in the other party’s debates

Viewership for the three Democratic debates has ranged between 8.6 million and 15.8 million, and a study released by the Pew Research Center offers some insights into why the GOP debates are more popular television events.

Pew’s survey found that Republicans are watching the debates in higher percentages than Democrats or independents, and that GOP viewers are less interested in seeing candidates from the other party.

Among people who have watched multiple debates, 41 percent of Republicans said they have only seen GOP debates, while 8 percent of the Democrats said they have only watched the Democrats.

GOP candidate Donald Trump has credited himself — not the party — with being the Republican debates’ main draw. His choice to sit out the seventh debate seems to suggest otherwise.

Trump did not participate because of a feud with Fox News Channel and instead held a fundraiser for veterans nearby in Iowa.

Still, 12.5 million viewers watched the debate on Fox News Channel. That puts the seventh Republican debate as the sixth least-watched. Only the previous debate, which was shown on the relatively little-watched Fox Business Network, had a smaller viewership, with 11.1 million viewers.

But ratings have generally declined for the debates since 24 million people tuned in for the first one on Fox in August. So even though the seventh debate had roughly half that viewership, it still ranked as the network’s second most-watched event ever.

Meanwhile, only 2 million viewers on CNN and 1.1 million on MSNBC watched Trump’s alternative event, a fundraiser for war veterans that was designed to draw audience away from the Fox debate. CNN and MSNBC were the only channels to broadcast it.

This article is based on reporting by AP’s David Bauder.

Koch brothers push Latinos to vote GOP

Charles and David Koch have launched a multimillion-dollar marketing effort aimed at persuading Latinos to vote Republican in 2016, and Milwaukee is high on their list of targeted cities. The Libre Initiative recently announced it’s in the process of hiring a state field director based in the Milwaukee area.

The director won’t have to travel far to coordinate with the group’s national spokeswoman — Rachel Campos-Duffy. She’s the wife of U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Hayward, a tea party leader.

Libre focuses mostly on swing states with significant Latino populations, such as Wisconsin. Last year, political analysts pinpointed the state as one of the top 10 where the Latino vote plays a major role in electoral results.

Wisconsin had about 135,000 eligible Latinos voters in the 2014 midterm elections, according to the Pew Research Center. Their vote played a role in President Barack Obama’s victory in Wisconsin in 2012.

An analysis by the Pew Latino Center found that Latinos nationally voted for Obama over Republican Mitt Romney by 71 percent to 27 percent.

Republicans want to put a halt to that.

Using Spanish-language radio and other targeted media, Libre stresses GOP message points framed to resonate with Latino voters, such as the party’s strong opposition to abortion and its embrace of school choice. Some commercials aired by the group have gone so far as to claim that Democrats want to abort Latino babies, according to Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of the Milwaukee-based immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera.

According to Libre’s marketing material, its goal is “to empower the U.S. Latino community so it can thrive and contribute to a more prosperous America.”

The Washington Post reported in May that Libre has quietly been building relationships with Latinos by providing them with such community services as driver’s license classes, tax preparation assistance, wellness checkups and food giveaways.

But along with the favors comes a heavy dose of right-wing ideology. Libre’s proselytizing is tailored to resonate with Latinos and overlooks the GOP’s demonization of immigrants and its opposition to immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for the estimated 11.3 million undocumented workers currently living in the United States.

Instead, Libre’s messaging focuses on the Republican vision that an unfettered free-market system is the only way to lift people out of poverty.

Critics, including leading immigrant rights leaders, point out that the free-market system can only benefit people who are allowed to live here and receive equal treatment under the law. That’s something that’s glaringly missing from Libre’s agenda. The group, like the Republican Party as a whole, is more interested in keeping Latinos out of the country than letting them in, let alone helping them once they’re here.

The harsh rhetoric that GOP presidential contenders have leveled at Mexican immigrants is perhaps the most accurate barometer of how the party feels about Latino immigrants. It’s probably the single most difficult hurdle that Republicans must overcome in their campaign to win over Latinos.

GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “drug dealers” who must be deported to keep the nation safe. He wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and several other GOP candidates have declined to criticize that all-but-impossible proposal.

So it’s not surprising that Libre’s critics condemn its attempts to cultivate Latino voters as hypocritical trickery. After all, they say, Republicans have halted Obama’s deportation protection programs, which he issued through executive order.

In 2014, Obama issued the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, known as DAPA. It would have granted three-year exemptions from deportation to the undocumented parents of children born in the United States and of children with green cards.

But DAPA has been held up by a GOP lawsuit contending that the action exceeded presidential authority. The U.S. Supreme Court is likely to take up the case, which would affect more than 4 million people, in coming weeks.

Neumann-Ortiz and many other immigrant rights leaders say the Republican Party’s basic agenda also is detrimental to the working-class Latino immigrants currently living in the country. The GOP opposes raising the minimum wage, the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, for example — all programs that would give a leg-up to newly arrived immigrants. Republicans have also concocted a number of schemes to prevent poor people from access to voting.

Media Matters for Democracy looked at Libre’s policy positions and its leadership, composed entirely of GOP operatives, and concluded that the group urges Latinos to support policies that experts say go against their own interests and disenfranchise Latino voters.

Libre’s message aligns more with Republicans and with the principles and ideas of Charles and David Koch than the needs of Latinos.

But Libre plans to spend a lot of money to counter the hate talk of Trump and the hardline anti-immigrant positions of the Republican Party as a whole. Even Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, despite their Hispanic surnames, poll badly with Latinos due to their positions on immigration.

Libre has received at least $10 million  from the Koch brothers and an additional $15.8 million from Freedom Partners, a group that serves as the hub of Koch-backed political operations.

Libre’s other donors are unknown. As a 501(c)4 organization, it’s not required to disclose its donors, making it a dark money group.

Among Libre’s opponents is state Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, who represents the largest Latino community in Wisconsin.

“I am committed to making sure my constituents are made aware that the primary goal of this right-wing organization is to get them to vote against their best interests by voting for Republican candidates who have consistently blocked my efforts to pass pro-Latino, pro-immigrant bills like drivers cards for undocumented immigrants (AB 343) and even symbolic efforts like a bill that would honor national civil rights leader, Cesar Chavez (AB 437),” Zamarripa said in a prepared statement.

Neumann-Ortiz said Libre will present obstacles to her efforts in 2016 to educate Latino voters about who is really on their side.

Most of the Latino voter education her group has done is “more nuanced” about the candidates than it will be in this election cycle, she said: “This time we’ve had to take a hard position against the Republican party.”

Neumann-Ortiz said poor Latinos are one of the least-informed groups politically. “For us, our program is not just going to be get out the vote, it’s going to have to be don’t be fooled by Libre.”

Another obstacle immigrant rights groups face in 2016 is the perception that Obama and the Democratic Party failed to live up to promises about immigration reform.

But Voces has proven up to the task. In 2014, when the Latino vote declined nationally, the 10 Milwaukee wards with the highest concentrations of Latino voters rose 25 percent over 2010. They went with the candidates favored by Voces.

What courts do next year with the president’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive actions could prove to be a major factor in the 2016 presidential election, said Neumann-Ortiz. If the president’s order is upheld, there will be a lot of goodwill toward Democrats among Latino voters.

Many people credit the president’s enormous success with Latino voters in 2012 to his adoption of the DACA policy that year. The policy gave work authorization to undocumented immigrants who came to the country before they were 16 and before July 2007, who were between 16 and 30 years of age, who had completed high school or received a GED and who had no criminal record.

Whatever ideology Libre plans to use to win Latino voters, nothing can compare with a progressive stance on immigration. Sixty-five percent of Latinos living in the United States have an undocumented relative living here as well.

“Immigration is a very important issue because it’s personal — it affects family, friends and neighbors,” Neumann-Ortiz says.

With the GOP’s current hardline stance on immigration, that should make her job easier, no matter what Libre does.

Republicans’ approval of their party lowest in 2 years

The Pew Research Center reports this week that the Republican Party’s image has grown more negative over the first half of 2015.

About 32 percent of people surveyed have a favorable impression of the GOP and 60 percent have an unfavorable view, according to Pew.

Favorable views of the GOP have fallen 9 percentage points since January.

The Democratic Party’s ratings are mixed —  48 percent favorable, 47 percent unfavorable.

Pew, in its analysis published this week, said the Democratic Party has held an edge over the GOP in favorability in recent years, but its advantage had narrowed following the Republicans’ midterm victory last November.

However, now the gap is as wide as it has been in more than two years, in part because Republicans are now more critical of their own party than they were a few months ago. About 68 percent of Republicans express a favorable opinion of their party, the lowest share in more than two years.

Six months ago, 86 percent of Republicans viewed the GOP positively.

Poll: Sharp divisions in reaction to Brown, Garner decisions

A new poll from the Pew Research Center and USA Today shows 50 percent of Americans believe the grand jury made the right decision not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown. About 37 percent say the grand jury made the wrong decision, and 13 percent don’t know.

By contrast, the poll shows about 57 percent of Americans think a grand jury made the wrong decision in deciding not to indict the officer in the death of Eric Garner in State Island. About 22 percent said the decision was correct and 20 percent said they did not know.

The poll was conducted by phone Dec. 3-7 among 1,507 adults.

About a quarter said race was a major factor in the Brown decision. About 48 percent said it was not a factor at all. About 28 percent said race was a factor in the Garner case; 39 percent said it was not a factor.

Those are the overall numbers. A look at the racial disparity: 23 percent of whites and 80 percent of blacks said the grand jury made the wrong decision in the Ferguson case; 47 percent of whites and 90 percent of blacks said the grand jury made the wrong decision in the Staten Island case.

On another question, about 52 percent of blacks expect relations between local police and minorities to get worse over the next year; about 34 percent of whites expect that to happen.

The survey also found disagreement among Republicans and Democrats over the cases: 76 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of Democrats think the grand jury made the right decision in the Ferguson case; 42 percent of Republicans and 12 percent of Democrats think the decision was correct in the Eric Garner case.

By age, young adults are far more critical of the grand jury decisions than older adults.

The poll shows broad support for outfitting police with body cameras — 87 percent on average.

Where Wisconsin stands on immigration reform

By Scott Bauer

Associated Press

Things to know about how President Barack Obama’s plans to shield as many as 5 million immigrants from deportation affect Wisconsin:


The Washington, D.C.-based Migration Policy Institute reports that there were about 76,000 immigrants living illegally in Wisconsin in 2012. Of those, about 75 percent had been in the state for more than five years. Under Obama’s plan, deportation protections would be extended to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, as long as those parents have been in the country for at least five years.


The number of unauthorized immigrants in Wisconsin remained relatively flat between 2009 and 2012, according to a report released by the Pew Research Center. The report said that populations grew or decreased in 21 states over that time. Seventy-six percent of the Wisconsin immigrants were from Mexico. That ranks Wisconsin seventh highest among all 50 states in terms of percentage of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico.


Wisconsin Democrats generally praised Obama’s action, while Gov. Scott Walker called it illegal. He joined other GOP governors in calling for a lawsuit, which House Republicans filed on Nov. 21. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, who like Walker is mulling a possible run for president in 2016, called the president’s action legally suspect and a “stunning act of partisanship and polarization” that will make it more difficult to reach a bipartisan solution. Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan blamed House Republicans for not taking action, saying Obama was “using his constitutional authority to make much needed progress on this important issue.”


Immigrant rights advocates supported the president, while the state’s business and agriculture community was more circumspect. Wisconsin Farm Bureau spokesman Casey Langan said Obama’s plan was “not the comprehensive, long-term fix that agriculture is seeking.” He said Wisconsin farmers need a new, flexible visa program that allows for long-term access for workers to enter the U.S. Voces de la Frontera, an advocate group, had praise for Obama’s action and held informational sessions in Milwaukee to help immigrants understand what to do next.


A Marquette University Law School poll from October showed that 52 percent of respondents in Wisconsin believe unauthorized immigrants who are currently working in the U.S. should be allowed to stay in their jobs and apply for citizenship

Twenty-four percent said they should be required to leave the country, while 20 percent said they should stay as temporary guest workers.


It’s unclear how Obama’s action will be carried out at the state level, given Walker’s opposition. The governor’s spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on what steps, if any, state agencies would take in light of the president’s order.

The great divide: Political partisanship outgrows the voting booth

Political polarization in America has broken out of the voting booth.

A survey from the Pew Research Center finds Americans are divided by ideology and partisanship not only when they cast ballots, but also in choosing where to live, where to get their news and with whom to associate.

And peaceful coexistence is increasingly difficult.

According to the poll, the share of Americans who hold across-the-board conservative or liberal views has doubled in the last decade, from 10 percent in 2004 to 21 percent today. Only 39 percent of Americans have an even mix of liberal and conservative positions, down from 49 percent 10 years ago.

The numbers of ideological purists are larger among the politically engaged than the general public, suggesting the ideological stalemates that have become more common in Washington and statehouses around the country are likely to continue. A third of those who say they regularly vote in primaries have all-or-nothing ideological views, as do 41 percent who say they have donated money to a campaign.

And among partisans, ideological purity is now the standard. Majorities in both parties hold either uniformly liberal (on the Democratic side) or conservative (among the GOP) views.

The shift toward ideological purity has been more visible among Republicans due to the popularity of the tea party, seen most recently this week in House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s loss to a tea party-based challenger in Virginia, but the survey found it’s happening in nearly equal measure among Democrats.

Those differences in visibility are partly due to the Democratic hold on the White House, according to Pew Research Center vice president Michael Dimock.

“Levels of alarm about the direction of the nation, and about the `threat’ the other party poses to the country, are substantially higher on the right than on the left right now, and at least in part this reflects the fact that Barack Obama is in the White House,” Dimock said.

But Democrats have expressed their share of distrust in the past, he noted in an email. “Democrats felt pretty passionately about George W. Bush and the GOP in his second term,” he said.

The survey used a battery of 10 questions on issues such as regulation of business, use of the military, the environment and immigration to assess ideological leanings. Across nine of the 10 issues tested, the views of Democrats and Republicans have grown further apart since 1994.

These ideological shifts have been accompanied by increasing animosity across party lines, and those on opposite sides of the partisan and ideological divide are now more apt to separate themselves in their personal lives as well.

About 8 in 10 Democrats say they have an unfavorable opinion of the Republican Party, and for 82 percent of Republicans, the feeling is mutual. This cross-party dislike has increased by double digits on both sides.

Among those with ideologically consistent views in each party, many go further than dislike and say they see the other side as a threat to the nation’s well-being. Republicans with consistently conservative views are more apt than Democrats with a strictly liberal view to see the opposite party as a threat, however, 66 percent to 50 percent.

Amid all this rancor, partisans and those with clear ideological leanings are more often choosing to associate only with those who hold views similar to their own. Two-thirds of consistent conservatives and half of consistent liberals say most of their close friends share their political views. Three in 10 on each side of the divide say it’s important to them to live in a place where most people share their political views.

And one-quarter of consistent liberals say they’d be unhappy if an immediate family member married a Republican, 30 percent of consistent conservatives say the same about a union with a Democrat.

The findings are based on a telephone survey of 10,013 randomly selected adults nationwide, conducted between Jan. 23 and March 16. Results based on the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

On the Web…


Third of Americans, 48 percent of Republicans reject idea of evolution

A Pew Research Center survey released on Dec. 30 shows that six in 10 Americans agree that “humans and other living things have evolved over time.” And a third of Americans reject the idea of evolution, saying “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.”

Pew, on its website, said those percentages are about the same as they were in 2009, the last time the center asked about evolution.

About half of those who expressed a belief in evolution said it is “due to natural processes such as natural selection” and 24 percent of those who expressed a belief in evolution say “a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today.”

Evangelical Protestants were most likely to say humans have existed as they are now since the beginning of time and reject the idea of evolution.

By party affiliation, about 43 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats expressed a belief in evolution. The gap between partisan groups has grown since 2009 and Republicans are less inclined today than in 2009 to express a belief in evolution.

Pew poll: 8 in 10 U.S. Catholics view Francis favorably

After six months, Pope Francis is rated favorably by eight out of 10 U.S. Catholics, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center.

Just 4 percent of Catholics say they have an unfavorable view of the first Latin American pope, while 17 percent express no opinion or say they have not heard enough about Francis to have an opinion.

Pew conducted the survey Sept. 4-8 and found that views of Pope Francis among U.S. Catholics are largely unchanged since the days after his ascension to the papacy in March.

Francis’ current favorability rating, according to a release from Pew, is roughly equivalent to the highest rating ever for Pope Benedict XVI, which was in 2008, after his visit to the United States.

In three Pew polls, Pope John Paul II was rated favorably by upwards of nine in 10 U.S. Catholics.

Francis, the survey found, has the strongest support among Catholics who say they attend Mass at least once a week. And he is most popular among younger Catholics.

Francis has taken a more tolerant approach on political issues than the unyielding Benedict, who enforced ultra-conservative positions. Repeated polls showed that Benedict’s positions and those of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops were not shared by a majority of U.S. Catholics, including positions on LGBT equality and marriage.

Number of social network users continues to grow

The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project reports that nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults who use the Internet use social networking sites.

The percentage has increased from 67 in late 2012 to 72 percent in May 2013.

When Pew first started polling on the issue in February 2005, just 8 percent of online adults used social networking sites.

Pew also, in its most recent survey, found an increase in the number of adults using Twitter – 18 percent, up from 8 percent in November 2010.

Although online seniors are less likely than other age groups to use social networking sites, user rates for those 65 and older have tripled in the last four years – from 13 percent in the spring of 2009 to 43 percent now.

Also, six out of 10 internet users ages 50-64 are social networking site users.