Tag Archives: Pew

Millennials showing up in 2016 election could decide races

Millennials get a bad rap. They’re labeled narcissistic, self-absorbed and apathetic. (Just look at their nicknames: the selfie generation, generation me, the unemployables.)

And they’re the least likely generation to turn up at the polls this November.

However, many young Americans do care about politics. They may just show it differently than their parents.

At a recent Black and Brown Vote event at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, many of the attendees were active in student politics and protest movements. L. Malik Anderson, a 21-year-old journalism and communications arts major, helped organize the Oct. 12 panel discussion to encourage people his age to register and vote.

“A lot of (young) people are feeling hopeless, like this election won’t make a difference in their lives,” Anderson said.

Sean Medlin, a 23-year-old recent graduate of UW-Madison who hails from Arizona, said that as an African-American, he is motivated to vote in November — mostly out of fear.

“I think that the presidential race is terrifying,” Medlin said, adding that he believes both major party presidential candidates, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, harbor some measure of racism.

“I feel compromised,” he said. “I don’t want to not vote, and I don’t want Trump to win. So I’m voting for Hillary.”

Jessica Franco-Morales, a 21-year-old student activist from Green Bay, expressed a similar sentiment: “I would say people are not enthused about the presidential election — more like agitated and motivated to vote.”

A self-described “older millennial,” panelist Matthew Braunginn, 31, urged the audience to “get over your apathy” and vote in the upcoming election.

“Ya’ll almost got Bernie Sanders — a quasi-socialist, let’s get real about that — nominated,” said Braunginn, a student engagement specialist with the Middleton-Cross Plains School District. “We (millennials) have a lot of power to really push things in a direction. It takes being involved. It takes voting.”

U.S. Census Bureau figures bear that out. As of April, there were an estimated 69.2 million millennials, roughly defined as Americans age 18 to 35, in the U.S. electorate, according to a Pew Research Center study. This group makes up about a third of the voting-age population, matching the baby boomers.

But millennials consistently have the lowest election turnout among all generations. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 17.1 percent of 18- to-24-year-olds voted in 2014, compared with 59.4 percent of those 65 and older.

Among likely Wisconsin voters ages 18 to 29, the Oct. 12 Marquette Law School Poll found 46 percent planned to vote for Clinton and 33 percent for Trump but were more likely than other age groups to support third-party candidates. Twelve percent said they planned to vote for neither candidate. Another 6 percent said they planned to vote for Independent Gary Johnson, while 3 percent remained undecided with the election one month away.

Clayton Causey, 30, of Madison, said he is turned off by the negative tenor of the presidential campaign and is not sure whether he will vote. Causey said people his age appear to be turning away from the two-party system, and he expects some will vote for Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

While millennials have the potential to influence upcoming elections — even the fate of political parties — the question is, will they? Here’s what you need to know about millennials and voting.


Millennials are different socially and politically

Millennials are more diverse than any generation before them. According to 2014 census data, 44 percent of them identify as nonwhite.

Elli Denison, director of research for the Center for Generational Kinetics, a Texas-based consulting firm that specializes in generational research, said millennials have grown up with diversity and celebrate it.

Mike Hais, co-author of the book “Millennial Majority: How a New Coalition is Remaking American Politics,” agreed. He said this diversity has led to the generation being more accepting, which affects their political views.

“They tend to be the most socially tolerant generation in America,” Hais said. “Immigration, gay rights and the like, for all these reasons, their attitudes tend to be progressive and tolerant. They really are, in that sense, a very distinctive generation.”

Those distinctions don’t always correlate along party lines, either. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, 44 percent of millennials identify as independents, while 28 percent identify as Democrats and 19 percent Republicans.

Hais also called the millennials “the most female-driven generation in American history” thanks to high enrollment numbers for women in college. In 2015, about 11.5 million women were expected to attend colleges and universities, compared with 8.7 million men, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Joan Kuhl, founder of the site WhyMillennialsMatter.com, said the millennial generation is “the most educated generation yet.”

On the personal front, millennials are waiting the longest of any of the grown generations to get married and have their own home. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center study and census data on millennials, 32.1 percent lived with their parents, and 57 percent were married by age 30. In comparison, in 1975, 90 percent of 30-year-olds lived on their own, and 89 percent had married.


They vote less often than other generations

Why do so few millennials vote? Some experts on the generation said one of the most prevalent reasons is that millennials tend to move around — a lot.

At some point in their lives, 51 percent of millennials moved for employment, 46 percent moved for or to find a romantic partner, and 44 percent had moved for family, according to a study of 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 35 from the moving company Mayflower.

This constant moving around often means re-registering to vote or requesting absentee ballots. However, the 50 states and thousands of counties have different rules, which can lead to confusion.

Some states also passed legislation that seems to target millennials, said Russell Dalton, a political science professor at University of California-Irvine, and author of the book “The Good Citizen: How a Younger Generation is Reshaping American Politics.” This includes forcing people to register in person the first time, shortening registration windows, refusing to accept student ID cards or rejecting certain documents as proof of residency.

“There is a whole set of institutional reforms that if politicians wanted to get young people to vote, they could,” Dalton said. “But politicians are happy with the status quo.”

However, even when states and jurisdictions do make it easy to register and vote, it doesn’t necessarily mean millennials will make it to the polls. Millennials often describe themselves as disillusioned and distrustful of the political system.

According to a 2016 poll by the Harvard University Institute of Politics, 47 percent of millennials feel that America is heading on the wrong track, and 48 percent agree that “politics today are no longer able to meet the challenges our country is facing.”

Millennials also lack faith in the traditional two-party system, which is why so many are independent.

Political strategist Luke Macias, CEO of Macias Strategies LLC, said millennials just aren’t as connected to local governments as older generations, so they don’t see the value in voting. But, said Macias, “Baby boomers were apathetic at 18 too,” and he predicted their involvement will grow as they age.


They care about a wide range of issues

Because millennials tend to distrust politicians, they often pay more attention and spend their time on issues rather than parties. Maurice Forbes, the youth vote director for NextGen Climate in Nevada, said he sees this trend with college students.

“I hear a lot from theses campuses across Nevada that ‘I care about these specific issues that are going to be affecting me and less so about a particular candidate that is expressing their views on that,’ ” Forbes said.

But it’s not just two or three main issues that stand out to millennials. They feel passionate about a wide range of issues.

Millennials don’t necessarily consume news and information the same way previous generations did — from the nightly broadcast news or the daily newspaper. But that doesn’t mean millennials don’t care about the world, according to a study by the Media Insight Project.

In fact, the study suggested that millennials’ access to technology and social-media platforms has actually widened their awareness of issues.

Nevertheless, recent national polls have indicated millennials often care most about the same issues other generations do: No. 1 being the economy, including jobs, minimum wage and paid leave, according to a USA Today/Rock the Vote poll.

Money issues also play a big role in their lives, and college affordability and student debt was the second most popular answer. Other top issues included foreign policy and terrorism, health care, guns and climate change, according to the poll.


They can change American politics

Historically, millennials have not shown up to vote. But that does not mean the generation hasn’t influenced political institutions.

The millennial population overtook baby boomers as the largest generation in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In Utah, the millennial generation has been larger since at least 2000, according to the Utah Foundation, a public policy research firm.

Salt Lake City is home to the second-highest percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds in the country among major cities — second only to Austin, Texas. And the city’s politics reflect its young population.

The city has long been a left-leaning island in the middle of historically conservative Utah, but the city’s politics are becoming even more progressive — and election data show the liberalism is slowly spreading to nearby counties.

Last year, Salt Lake City elected an openly lesbian mayor, Jackie Biskupski. And this year, the city rallied around Bernie Sanders.

Experts said these changes would not have happened without millennials.

“The place has just become increasingly more progressive, as people from outside of Utah move to Utah,” said Pamela Perlich, the director of demographic research at the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

Millennials define citizenship not as voting, “but being concerned about other people,” Dalton said. And they often show that concern by volunteering.

“Millennials are probably the most involved generation in history in causes and nonprofit endeavors and community involvement,” Hais said.

He predicted that when millennials begin to take office, the hyper-partisan nature of politics will shift to something more compromise driven.

“What we see now is terrible gridlock because of that baby boomer division,” Hais said. “They can’t see eye to eye, but millennials will be different. Millennial Democrats and millennial Republicans are closer together.”


Information about all of the requirements to register and vote in Wisconsin’s Nov. 8 election is available at www.gab.wi.gov/voters.


Sean Holstege of News21 and Dee J. Hall and Alexandra Arriaga of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism contributed to this report. This report is part of a project on voting rights in America produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 program. The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism distributed this report. For more from this collaborative series, see http://wisconsinwatch.org/series/voting-wars-by-news21/


This report is part of the project titled “Voting Wars – Rights | Power | Privilege,” produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 initiative, a national investigative reporting project by top college journalism students across the country and headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


University of Wisconsin-Madison students register to vote on Oct. 12 at the Multicultural Student Center. The registration drive was part of the Black and Brown Vote event aimed at urging millennials to vote in November.
Credit:Alexandra Arriaga/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Is a major new political party now inevitable?

American politics is in system failure. In a democratic republic, the definition of system failure is when a clear public consensus emerges that we the people are being ruled, not represented. Current conditions fit that definition.

The latest polling by The Associated Press shows nearly all Americans now believe that neither major political party represents the views of your average voter. A mere 14 percent say the Democratic Party is responsive to the voters while just 8 percen say the same about the Republicans.

An overwhelming majority of voters told AP in no uncertain terms that neither party is receptive to fresh perspectives. Only 17 percent of the public say the Democratic Party is open to new ideas for dealing with the country’s problems, and a meager 10 percent say that about the Republican Party.

t Seventy percent of voters, including equal proportions of Democrats and Republicans, admit to feeling frustrated about the 2016 presidential election and 55 percent say they feel “helpless.”

The AP is hardly alone in finding evidence of boiling public discontent with the major parties and ruling class. Pew Research Center found most Americans believe elected officials from both parties don’t care what we think, are out of touch, bought off, and put their own interests ahead of the country’s. Princeton University researchers provided a jolting explanation for why everyday Americans have good reason for feeling this way, with a study showing that public opinion has “near-zero” impact on what Congress does.

Pew has been surveying American public opinion for three-quarters of a century and has never before found such alienation from the two major parties as its polls are detecting right now. And according to Gallup polling, close to 60 percent of Americans want a new major party to emerge because they feel the Republican and Democratic parties do such a poor job of representing them.

All of these findings are akin to tremors that foreshadow a coming earthquake. Seismic events have been rare in American politics. Never in our lifetimes has a major party splintered and disintegrated. Never in living memory has a new major party taken shape and seriously threatened the ruling parties. But it has happened before. On multiple occasions, as a matter of fact. The birth of the Republican Party coincided with the death of the Whig Party as the country wrestled with the evil institution of slavery. The Progressive movement produced major political upheaval in the Gilded Age at the end of the 19th Century, causing massive fractures within the major parties at the time and ultimately transforming both of them.

For the first time in a very long time, the signs are again unmistakable. You can feel the tremors. America is on the brink of the political equivalent of an earthquake. The landscape is going to be dramatically altered. No one has a crystal ball capable of showing us exactly when the quake will hit or where the largest chasms will open. But what is clear is that the conditions are ripe for the emergence of a new major party. Chances are the majority of Americans will get their wish soon enough.

Mike McCabe is founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and the author of Blue Jeans in High Places: The Coming Makeover of American Politics.

For more about Blue Jean Nation, visit www.bluejeannation.com.

Survey shows generational gaps on science issues

Age divides Americans on science issues just as much as political ideology, a new analysis of recent polling shows.

There are dramatic generation gaps in opinions on global warming, offshore drilling, nuclear power, childhood vaccines, gene modification to reduce a baby’s disease risk, untested medicine use, lab tests on animals, and evolution, according to the Pew Research Center.

Pew analyzed 22 different science issues in a survey of 2,002 people nationwide last August and a few later polls to see what demographic factors divide the nation on science issues.

“The striking story is how different the patterns are depending on what the issue is,” said Lee Rainie, Pew’s director of science issues research. “There is not a one-size-fits-all explanation for the public’s attitudes on science.”

Political ideology remained a key reason for the nation’s divide on climate change and energy use, but when it came to other issues — especially medical ones — age and factors such as race and education played a bigger role.

That was a reason for both pessimism and optimism, said Rush Holt, a former congressman who now heads the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He said “the trend in this country for ideology to replace evidence” makes him lose hope, but the views of younger Americans — generally in line with science — revive his spirits.

More than 70 percent of Democrats and independents who lean toward that party say Earth is warming because of humans, compared to 27 percent of their Republican counterparts. Likewise, 60 percent of people under 30 say climate change is real, compared to just 31 percent of people 65 and older.

Similarly, 61 percent of young people oppose increasing drilling for more energy offshore, while 60 percent of senior citizens favor it. Among the young, 56 percent opposed nuclear power, but 57 percent of seniors favored it.

While the opinions of younger people on energy and environment issues generally dovetailed with those of Democrats, they diverged on some medical issues.

Forty-one percent of younger people said parents should decide on whether to vaccinate children, compared to just 20 percent of seniors. Democrats were less likely to favor parents deciding on vaccines than Republicans.

When asked if people should have access to experimental medications that haven’t been fully tested yet for safety, slightly more than half the young people said no, but nearly two-thirds of the people between age 50 and 64 said yes.

In younger adults, 56 percent approved of using genetic modifications to reduce disease risk for babies; among seniors, 56 percent oppose it.

On the issue of genetically modified food, the biggest factor was science education. The only groups of people who felt that genetically modified food were generally safe were those with a postgraduate degree and those with more science knowledge. Everyone else felt the food was unsafe.

One science issue doesn’t divide the public: The support for space was broad and diverse, Rainie said, calling it one of those issues “where there’s a special public attachment.”

On the Web …

Pew Research Center: www.pewresearch.org

Majority favors pot legalization, 49 percent say they’ve tried the drug

About 53 percent of Americans think marijuana should be legalized, according to the latest survey from the Pew Research Center.

The analysis shows that 53 percent support legalization and 44 percent support keeping use of the drug illegal.

The shift in public opinion occurred between 2011, when 45 percent supported legalization, and 2013, when 52 percent said they supported legalization.

The survey also looked at public opinion on the issue by gender, race and political persuasion and found:

• 57 percent of men and 49 percent of women support legalization.

• 55 percent of whites, 58 percent of blacks and 40 percent of Hispanics support legalization.

• 68 percent of millennials, 52 percent of Gen Xers, 50 percent of Boomers and 29 percent of the Silent generation support legalization.

• 58 percent of college graduates and 47 percent of high school graduates support legalization.

• 39 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of independents and 59 percent of Democrats support legalization.

Asked whether federal authorities should enforce U.S. marijuana laws in states that legalized use, 59 percent said no. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents agreed on that issue.

Asked “If marijuana were legal, would it bother you if” and given several scenarios, people were more likely to be bothered by pot use in public than anywhere else:

• 62 percent said they’d be bothered if people used marijuana in public.

• 41 percent said they’d be bothered by a business selling marijuana in their neighborhood.

• 15 percent said they’d be bothered by use in their homes.

On the question of personal use, just 49 percent of people surveyed said they’d ever tried marijuana. Women are less likely to say they’ve tried marijuana than men.

Generationally, the members of the Silent generation — 70-87 years old — were far more likely to say they’ve never tried the drug. About 81 percent of older Americans and 48 percent of millennials say they’ve never tried marijuana.

Poll shows giant gap between what public, scientists think

The American public and U.S. scientists are light-years apart on science issues. And 98 percent of surveyed scientists say it’s a problem that we don’t know what they’re talking about.

Scientists are far less worried about genetically modified food, pesticide use and nuclear power than is the general public, according to matching polls of both the general public and the country’s largest general science organization.

Scientists were more certain that global warming is caused by man, evolution is real, overpopulation is a danger and mandatory vaccination against childhood diseases is needed.

In eight of 13 science-oriented issues, there was a 20-percentage-point or higher gap separating the opinions of the public and members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, according to survey work by the Pew Research Center. The gaps didn’t correlate to any liberal-conservative split. The scientists at times take more traditionally conservative views and at times more liberal.

“These are big and notable gaps,” said Lee Rainie, director of Pew’s Internet, science and technology research. He said they are “pretty powerful indicators of the public and the scientific community seeing the world differently.”

In the most dramatic split, 88 percent of the scientists surveyed said it is safe to eat genetically modified foods, while only 37 percent of the public say it is safe and 57 percent say it is unsafe.

And 68 percent of scientists said it is safe to eat foods grown with pesticides, compared with only 28 percent of the general public.

Ninety-eight percent of scientists say humans evolved over time, compared with 65 percent of the public.

The gap wasn’t quite as large for vaccines, with 86 percent of the scientists favoring mandatory childhood shots while 68 percent of the public did.

Eighty-seven percent of scientists said global warming is mostly due to human activity, while only half of the public did. The figures for scientists are slightly different than past academic studies because of wording of the question and the fact that AAAS members include many specialties, but they tell the same essential story, said Pew associate director Cary Funk.

What to do about climate change is another issue.

Nearly two-thirds of scientists favored building more nuclear power plants, but only 45 percent of the public did.

But more of the public favored offshore drilling for oil and fracking than scientists did.

More than four out of five scientists thought the growing world population will be a major problem, but just less than three out of five members of the public did.

Pew polled 2,002 adults in August and did an online survey of 3,748 AAAS members in the fall. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points for the public and 1.7 percentage points for the scientists.

In 2009, Pew asked only a handful of questions like these to both scientists and the public and the gap hasn’t changed much since, Funk said.

“On the whole, as compared to most members of the public, scientists are likely drawing from a larger scientific knowledge base — and thinking more scientifically _ about each of these issues,” George Mason University communications professor Edward Maibach said in an email. “Therefore, their views appear to be more in line with a completely dispassionate reading of the risks versus the benefits.”

Alan Leshner, chief executive officer of AAAS, said the gap between the way the public and scientists look at issues is a cause for concern.

“Science is about facts; science is not about values,” Leshner said. “Policies are made on facts and values and we want to make sure that the accurate, non-distorted facts are brought in to any kind of discussion.”

The trouble is that scientists don’t think the public knows the facts. The survey said 84 percent of the scientists said it is a major problem that “the public does not know very much about science” and another 14 percent said it is a minor problem.

And 97 percent of the scientists criticized the educational system. Three-quarters of the scientists said not enough science and math education is a major problem and another 22 percent said it was a minor one.

“It’s not about being smart or dumb,” Leshner said. “It’s about whether, in fact, you understand the source of the fact and what the facts are.”

Poll: citizen anger at government reaches a Pew record

In polling conducted before the federal government shutdown today (Oct. 1), a Pew poll found anger at the federal government at its highest since the Research Center for the People and the Press began asking the question in 1997.

The survey was conducted Sept. 25-29 among 1,005 adults and found that 26 percent overall were angry with the federal government. An additional 51 percent said they felt frustrated with the federal government. About 17 percent said they were basically content.

The number of Americans angry with the government went up 7 points since January to reach another high point of anger a few weeks after the debt ceiling agreement between the president and Congress in the summer of 2011.

Where’s the anger? About 41 percent of conservative Republicans, 27 percent of moderate Republicans, 24 percent of independents, 21 percent of moderate Democrats and 18 percent of liberal Democrats said they were angry with the government.

Liberal Democrats were angrier with the federal government in October 2006, during the Bush administration and just before the midterm elections.

As Congress was at a stalemate and the government shutdown loomed, liberal and moderate Democrats were polling high on the frustration scale.

The Pew poll found that young adults were largely ignoring the shutdown debate.

The poll found general agreement on congressional dysfunction, but it found little agreement as to the root of the problem.

• 48 percent said political parties have grown so far apart they can’t agree on much.

• 36 percent said the gridlock was caused by a few members who refuse to compromise.

• 44 percent say the growing political division is mostly among elected officials and not American society more broadly.

Pew: More views for marriage equality than against in media

Around the time the U.S. Supreme Court was considering the same-sex marriage issue, news reports had more comments from supporters than opponents of marriage equality, a study released on June 17 concluded.

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism looked at nearly 500 stories on the topic over a two-month period that began just before the court started hearings in March on legalizing same-sex marriage. By a 5-to-1 margin, the stories with statements in support of legalization outweighed those dominated by opponents’ views.

But Pew said the results were in large part because many of the stories were about polls showing societal attitudes swiftly moving toward support for gay marriage, or about politicians announcing their support. A disciplined approach by supporters was also a factor, Pew found.

“Certainly it is evident in these findings the degree to which supporters of same-sex marriage were largely successful in getting their message out in a clear way, a consistent way, across a wide swath of the news media,” said Amy Mitchell, acting director of the project.

Supporters primarily defined the issue as one of civil rights. At the same time, Pew said, opponents haven’t coalesced behind a single argument but instead posed many: homosexuality is immoral; same-sex marriage hurts families or society; civil unions are good enough; or government should not impose a new definition of marriage.

The findings were consistent across different media. For instance, 43 percent of newspaper stories showed at least a 2-to-1 margin of pro views to con, 8 percent were dominated by opponents and 48 percent were largely neutral, Pew said. The proportions of supporter-opponent content in stories for all three cable news networks were similar.

Twenty-nine percent of the stories by Fox News Channel, which appeals to conservatives, were dominated by supporters, 8 percent by opponents and 63 percent had about the same pro and con views, Pew said.

While the nation’s attitudes have been shifting, a recent Pew Research Center survey found that 51 percent of the public favored legalizing same-sex marriage and 42 percent opposed it.

Pew found that Twitter postings were more closely aligned with public opinion than news coverage. Tweets were about the same between positive and negative, with the greater proportion of negative comments coming directly after the Supreme Court began hearing arguments.

Mitchell demurred when asked whether the study provided evidence for conservatives who believe that news media opinions tilt left.

“I don’t think the study can necessarily speak to that one way or another,” she said.

A complex portrait of LGBT Americans from Pew survey

Even as they acknowledge greater acceptance by society, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans are, on average, less happy than other U.S. adults, and many report instances of rejection and harassment, according to a sweeping new survey.

The survey, released on June 13 by the Pew Research Center, is one of the largest and most detailed ever conducted among LGBT respondents by a major U.S. polling organization.

It was conducted April 11-29 among a national sample of 1,197 adults who had previously identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. It was administered online, a survey mode that Pew says produces more honest answers on sensitive topics than less anonymous methods.

“What we find is that for LGBT Americans, these are the best of times, but that doesn’t mean these are easy times,” said Paul Taylor, the Pew Center’s executive vice president. “Many are still searching for a comfortable place in a society where acceptance is growing but remains limited.”

The survey’s findings – released as gay-rights supporters await U.S. Supreme Court rulings this month on same-sex marriage – reveal an intriguing mix of outlooks and experiences.

For example, 92 percent of the respondents say society has become more accepting of them in the past decade, and an equal number expect even more acceptance in the decade ahead.

Yet 39 percent said that at some point they were rejected by a family member or close friend because of their sexual orientation; 30 percent said they had been physically attacked or threatened; 29 percent reported feeling unwelcome in a place of worship; and 58 percent said they’d been the target of slurs or derogatory jokes.

Compared with the general public, the LGBT respondents are more liberal politically, less religious and less happy with their lives. Only 18 percent of LGBT adults describe themselves as “very happy,” compared with 30 percent of all adults.

Additionally, their family incomes were lower than average. Only 20 percent of the survey respondents reported family incomes of more than $75,000, compared to 34 percent for the general public, while 39 percent of the LGBT adults reported family income of under $30,000, compared to 28 percent of all adults.

The survey illustrated how religion is problematic for many LGBT adults. A large majority of respondents described the Mormon Church, the Catholic Church, evangelical churches and Islam as unfriendly toward LGBT people. Views of Judaism and mainline Protestant churches were mixed.

Forty-eight percent of the respondents said they had no religious affiliation, compared with 20 percent of the general public. Of the LGBT adults with religious affiliations, one-third said there is a conflict between their religious beliefs and their sexual orientation.

Survey respondents were asked about their decisions regarding how and when to tell others about their sexual orientation. About 56 percent said they had told their mother and 39 percent have told their father; most who did tell a parent said it was difficult, but relatively few said it damaged the relationship.

The poll found gay men and lesbians were far more apt than bisexuals to have told important people in their life about their sexual orientation.

Without giving their names, Pew quoted several respondents discussing their own coming-out experiences.

“I wish I would have told people sooner,” said a 43-year-old man who first told someone about being gay when he was 22. “I wasted too many years being afraid of my sexuality and making choices that allowed me to hide in the background of life.”

A 58-year-old woman recalled that two of her friends shunned her after she told them, as a 17-year-old high school student, that she was a lesbian.

“That was painful,” the woman said. “Everyone else has been great, and for 40-plus years I have never hesitated about or regretted being out.”

The respondents surveyed by Pew included 398 gay men, 277 lesbians, 479 bisexuals and 43 transgender people – roughly reflecting the breakdown reported by demographers who have tried to quantify America’s LGBT population. Pew did not attempt to estimate the share of the U.S. population that is LGBT, but noted that other recent studies have made estimates in the range of 3.5 percent to 5 percent.

Pew’s survey found that lesbians are more likely than gay men to be in a committed relationship (66 percent versus 40 percent). It also found that women, whether lesbian or bisexual, are significantly more likely than men to either already have children or to say they want to have children.

According the survey, 93 percent of LGBT adults favor legalization of same-sex marriage. However, 39 percent said the marriage debate has drawn too much attention away from other issues, such as employment rights, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and adoption rights.

The survey found that one in six LGBT adults – mostly bisexuals with opposite-sex partners – are married, compared with about half the adults in the general public.

Large majorities of LGBT adults and the general public agree that love, companionship and making a lifelong commitment are very important reasons to marry. However the LGBT respondents are twice as likely as other adults to say that obtaining legal rights and benefits is also a very important reason to marry, while the general public is more likely than LGBT respondents to say that having children is a very important reason.

Survey respondents were asked to name public figures most responsible for advancing LGBT rights.

President Barack Obama, who announced his support for same-sex marriage last year, was the top pick – named by 23 percent of respondents. Next, at 18 percent, was comedian and TV host Ellen DeGeneres, who came out as a lesbian in 1997. No one else was named by more than 3 percent of respondents.

The survey was administered by the GfK Group using KnowledgePanel, its nationally representative online research panel. The margin of sampling error for the full LGBT sample is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

On the Web…


Poll: Voters narrowly focused on economy, jobs

Barack Obama’s lead over Mitt Romney narrowed from 12 points to an advantage of 49 percent to 45 percent, with voters rating the economy and jobs as the issues that are “very important” to their vote.

Some hot-button social issues, such as gay marriage and birth control, rank at the bottom of the list of voter concerns.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted April 4-15, finds that those who say the economy and jobs will be very important to their vote divide their support almost evenly between Obama and Romney.

But the candidates each have advantages on other top-tier issues.

Health care and education voters favor Obama by double-digits.

Those who rank the federal budget deficit as a top priority favor Romney by a 19-point margin.

Romney is also the preferred candidate among those who rank Iran as very important, while Obama leads among those who cite the environment.

Among those who rank abortion “very important,” 45 percent back Romney and 47 percent back Obama – but abortion is low on the “very important” list.

So is gay marriage. Among those who consider gay marriage a “very important” issue, 43 percent support Romney and 50 percent support Obama.

The president continues to owe his lead to support from women, college graduates, blacks, Latinos and lower income voters – all of whom support him over Romney by double-digits.

The gender gap remains comparable to those in previous election 2012 surveys, as well as past election cycles:

• Women favor Obama 53 percent to 40 percent.

• Men favor Romney 50 percent to 44 percent.

Obama has lost ground among both men and women at about the same rate over the past month.

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