News and Commentary

Seven Takeaways From Pew’s 2017 Polls That Will Ruin (Or Make) Your Day

Happy New Year! With 2018 right around the corner, the Pew Research Center highlighted some notable findings from 2017 that will either make or ruin your day, depending on your politics.

The world thinks less of the U.S., and even less of Donald Trump.

Sounds like a plus given the miserable record of “world opinion” and its broken megaphone, the United Nations. But plenty of Americans care what the world thinks about America’s president, and it’s only 22% good and 74% bad. Those figures were basically flipped for Barack Obama as his second term ended.

As far as views about the U.S. in general, the world’s “favorable” rating has dropped from 64% to 49% since Trump took office, and its “unfavorable” rating has increased from 26% to 39%.

Muslims’ share of Europe’s population will continue to rise . . . even if Muslim migration drops to zero.

This is bad news for anyone concerned with the Islamization of Western Europe, which accelerated with the recent Arab migration wave. It’s worse news when you consider that even if migration dropped to zero today, and stayed at zero, the Muslim share of Europe’s population would grow because of Muslims’ high birth rates relative to that of non-Muslims in a highly secular Europe.

Pew considered three different migration scenarios: high, medium, and zero. With high Muslim migration, Pew projects Muslims would comprise 14% of Europe’s population by 2050. Those figures are 11.2% and 7.4% for medium and zero migration, respectively.

Muslims comprise about 5% of Europe’s population, but that includes Eastern European nations with very few Muslims, like Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania. In countries like France and Sweden, over 8% of the population is Muslim.

Pew projects that under a zero migration scenario, by 2050, Muslims will comprise 12.7% of France, 11% of Sweden, and 9.7% of the United Kingdom.

This would all be fine and dandy if a not insignificant share of Europe’s Muslims didn’t resent the West.

Democrats and Republicans live in different universes.

Not that you weren’t aware, but partisan polarization is at a fever pitch. In 1994, race and party affiliation were essentially tied as the top predictors of an individual’s political views, followed by religious attendance, education, age, and gender. This year, party affiliation was far and away the main predictor of an individual’s politics — much more than race.

That explains why 73% of white Democrats and 95% of black Democrats believe that whites benefit from societal advantages that blacks do not have, while 76% of white Republicans beg to differ.

It also explains why education and scientific knowledge don’t account for Democrats’ and Republicans’ divergent views on global warming. All that really matters is whether they’re Democrat or Republican.

Among Republicans with plenty of science knowledge, only 27% believe that climate change will cause rising sea levels and subsequent beach erosion. Among Democrats with great science knowledge, that figure is 75%. That discrepancy virtually holds when it comes to climate change’s existent or nonexistent impact on the severity of storms, droughts, and harm to wildlife.

One-quarter of women in the U.S. say differences in male-female physical abilities are based more on societal expectations than biological differences.

This is very much a glass-quarter-empty kind of thing, but, come on, one-quarter of American women (and 18% of American men) deny grade school? This isn’t even a valid opinion. There aren’t two sides. It’s reality versus delusion; science versus science fiction. As a general rule, men are physically stronger than women. Because biology.

Three-quarters of Democrats and one-third of Republicans say colleges and universities have a positive effect on America.

The latter figure is more depressing. Democrats, after all, should like that colleges are overwhelmingly on the left. But how do 36% of Republicans still favorably view the university given its manifest antipathy for the most basic American values?

Not news: the news is anti-Trump.

In 1993, mainstream news coverage of Bill Clinton’s first 60 days in office was 28% negative and 27% positive. In 2001, it was 28% negative and 22% positive for George W. Bush. And in 2009, news coverage of Barack Obama’s first 60 days was 20% negative and 42% positive.

News coverage of Donald Trump’s first 60 days? 62% negative and 5% positive. Perhaps the media, like world opinion, is a useful anti-proxy for Trump’s success (“If they hate him, he must be doing well”), but it’s easy to miss the days when Americans’ trust in the media was only partially misplaced.

The public and the police don’t get each other.

While 83% of the public say they understand the risks and challenges police face, 86% of police say the public has little to no idea. The police are probably right. This is purely anecdotal, but until I went on a ride along with the LAPD, I couldn’t have known even a little bit of how it feels to be a police officer working the projects at night.

And if I’ve learned anything from personal acquaintances who’ve said things like — “Why couldn’t the officer have just shot the armed guy in the leg instead of killing him?” — it’s that a ton of people don’t get that shooting a stationary target at an air-conditioned gun range prepares you almost not at all when a real live person is trying to kill you. No amount of training can truly prepare you for the real thing.

Over one-quarter of Americans haven’t fired a gun.

Why is this a problem? Because if you have no idea how to operate this thing that can save your life when a bad person means you harm, you’re at bad people’s mercy. You’re, at best, no more prepared to defend yourself than sword guy from Raiders of the Lost Ark. That’s assuming you know how to sword-fight.

And unless you’re a caricature of an irresponsible, gun-toting cowboy, when you own and know how to safely use a firearm, you increase your odds of not being murdered.

That’s a plus.