Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
The USA Today/Gallup poll was conducted Nov. 13-17, close to two weeks after a similar Nov. 3-6 poll. In that short time, Gingrich's support has increased from 12% to its current figure of 19% among Republicans nationwide. During this same time, Cain appears to have lost support--perhaps the result of recent allegations of sexual harassment levied against him. While 21% of Republicans supported him in the Nov. 3-6 poll, a smaller 16% favor him today. Rick Perry also continued to slip, from 11% in the last poll to 8% in this most recent one.
While most candidates appear to receive roughly equal support from conservative and moderate/liberal Republicans and Republican-leaners, Gingrich and Cain seem to hang their hat on the more conservative wing of Republican voters. Conservative Republicans and Republican-leaders are most likely to favor Gingrich (23%), followed by Romney (20%) and Cain (18%). But among moderate/liberal Republicans and Republican-leaners, Romney leads the race, checking in with 20% of the votes, while Gingrich and Cain each only garner 12% of the group's vote. According to Gallup, however, "conservatives outnumber moderates and liberals by better than 2-to-1 in the Republican rank-and-file." Gallup writes: "Gingrich and Cain appear to have benefited most from the decline in Perry's support."
Age appears to be a fairly large determinant of respondents' preferences. The GOP race would be a two-man battle between Gingrich (34%) and Romney (28%) if it were up to voters over 65 years of age. In fact, "Gingrich's support is heavily concentrated among Republicans who are at least 50." Part of this, Gallup surmises, may be due to the fact that Gingrich "has been out of public office for more than a decade, and [is] thus a less familiar figure to younger Republicans." Cain and Ron Paul, on the other hand, get most of their support from younger respondents. This would appear to favor Gingrich and Romney, as older Americans are typically more likely to head to the polls than younger Americans.
Gallup concludes: "With the first official nominating contest, the Iowa caucuses, now just six weeks away, there is no clear national front-runner for the Republican nomination...the current contest stands to be the most competitive and perhaps most unpredictable for the Republican nomination since 1972, when the parties shifted the power to choose their presidential nominees away from party leaders at the national convention to the rank-and-file voters in state primaries and caucuses."
Monday, November 21, 2011
A recent survey from Pew People and the Press shows that support for President Obama is up in November, and that Mitt Romney leads a group of GOP candidates about whom the public is not very excited. A majority of Americans (52%) express a favorable view of President Obama, compared with 45% of Americans who hold an unfavorable view. Americans do not hold GOP candidates in such high esteem: more Americans view Romney negatively than positively (42% unfavorable vs. 36% favorable); the same holds true for Newt Gingrich (48% vs. 31%), Herman Cain (50% vs. 29%) and Rick Perry (50% vs. 25%).
As was the case in October, however, the survey suggests that a race between Obama and Romney would run about even, with Romney's support among independents far exceeding Obama's. 49% of respondents say they would vote for Obama in a head-to-head race with Romney, while 47% say they would vote for Romney. Among independents, Romney is the clear winner, with only 41% saying they would vote for Obama, compared with 53% who choose Romney.
Although Obama's overall numbers are up, a majority of Americans (58%) disapprove of his handling of the economy. Only 35% of Americans say he is doing all he can for the economy, with 61% saying he could be doing more. This is a reversal from March 2009 results, when 60% of Americans said Obama was doing all he could, and only 30% said he could be doing more. Still, more respondents (48%) say that they have been hearing a mix of good and bad economic news--matching the 48% who say news is mostly bad--than in October, when 58% of respondents said economic news was mostly bad, as compared with only 39% who said there was a mix of good and bad news. Obama scores better in foreign policy (46% approve) and on his decision to remove all American combat troops from Iraq by the end of the year (75% approve).
Although the survey suggests that Romney would be a strong challenger to Obama in a head-to-head race, Republican voters remain largely unimpressed with the GOP field. Only 48% say Republican candidates are of excellent or fair quality, compared with 46% who rate the field as only fair or poor. Pew writes: "GOP voters’ ratings of the field have shown little improvement since May and are at least as low as ratings for Republican candidates at comparable points in the 2008 and 1996 campaigns."
Friday, November 18, 2011
According to recent Gallup polling, smoking rates are highest in the South and Midwest, typically states that "have fewer legal smoking restrictions." Smoking rates top out at 29% in Kentucky, followed by six states where 26% of residents smoke. Utah has the lowest percentage of smokers, checking in at only 11%, with California (15%) and Hawaii (16%) closing out the bottom three. 21% of all Americans say they smoke, unchanged from 2008. The number of states with under 20% of residents smoking has increased, from 10 in 2008 to 18 today.
Excluding West Virginia, all states where over 25% of residents smoke are located in the South and Midwest. On the other end, 14 of the 18 states with under 20% of their residents smoking are located in the East or West. Smoking regulations appear to correlate with a state's percentage of smokers. Gallup writes: "There are no bans on smoking in bars in all but one of the states where rates are 25% or higher and no bans on smoking in restaurants in all but two. However, smoking is banned from workplaces, restaurants, and bars in all but 3 of the 18 states where smoking rates are lower than 20%."
historic highs of around 40% Gallup found from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s, there remains significant variation across states, with smoking levels in many states still at 25% or higher."
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Unemployment dropped the most in Muskegon-Norton Shores, Michigan (-2.6 percentage points), followed by El Centro, California; Farmington, New Mexico; and Flint, Michigan, all three of which saw a decrease of 2.5 percentage points in the unemployment rate. On the other end, Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Washington, witnessed the largest increase in unemployment, as the jobless rate rose 1.7 percentage points over the year. It was followed by Yakima, Washington (+ 1.3 percentage points); Pascagoula, Mississippi (+ 1.3 points); and Jacksonville, North Carolina (+1.2 points).
A smaller percentage of metropolitan areas saw increases in nonfarm payroll employment, though a majority still did: "From October 2010 to October 2011, 233 metropolitan areas reported over-the-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment, 133 reported decreases, and 6 had no change."
Metropolitan areas with the largest percentage gains in employment were led by Kankakee-Bradley, Illinois (+ 6.5 percentage points), followed by Hot Springs, Arkansas (+ 6.2 points), and Victoria, Texas (+ 5.5 points). The largest reported losses were in Missoula, Montana (- 5.4 points), Abilene, Texas (- 5.2 points), and Dalton, Georgia (- 4.7 points)."
Whether its data from the Cremation Association of North America or the Census Bureau, students in Professor Esther Isabelle Wilder's classes at Lehman College in New York City will always find themselves actively engaged in data analysis. Wilder says, "I find that when my students are actively engaged in data analysis in my classes they learn to appreciate the relevance of the material to their lives and the active learning exercises strengthen their critical thinking skills, particularly insofar as quantitative reasoning is concerned. Moreover, they gain a better understanding of the scientific process and how to make sense of data using computer software. These are skills whose importance extends far beyond any sociology class." She adds, "Doing data analysis also enhances their understanding of course content. For example, in discussing changing mortality patterns across time and throughout the world, the process of gathering data and actually documenting this firsthand promotes an understanding of these trends in a way that lecturing and/or reading about them never could."
Esther Isabelle Wilder is Associate Professor of Sociology at Lehman College, the City University of New York and a member of the Doctoral Faculty at CUNY Graduate Center. She currently teaches Sociology of Healthcare or the Sociology of Death, Dying and Bereavement, directs a Quantitative Reasoning (QR) initiative at the City University of New York (CUNY), and co-directs Lehman College’s QR program. Among her publications are articles in Teaching Sociology on matters related to the quantitative literacy of students, "A Qualitative Assessment of Efforts to Integrate Data Analysis throughout the Sociology Curriculum: Feedback from Students, Faculty and Alumni," (2010) and "Responding to the Quantitative Literacy Gap among Students in Sociology Courses" (2009).
"I also believe that data analysis cannot be treated as an isolated component of course instruction and to the extent that these materials are interwoven into the course content and instructional goals of the course, I think that their success is guaranteed. Students benefit from engaging in all aspects of the scientific process of inquiry using data, including reviewing the literature, formulating hypothesis, engaging in data analysis, interpreting results, and drawing conclusions and communicating results. Revision is also an important pedagogical tool in promoting this kind of instruction since students don't always get things right the first time and benefit from feedback that helps them to strengthen their work" Wilder states.
Wilder recommends resources to her colleagues like those found on TeachingWithData.org and other repositories for use in the classroom and says, "With the proliferation of data resources on the Internet, there is really a wonderful array of opportunities for faculty from all social science disciplines . . . to engage students in active learning doing data analysis."
Professor Wilder earned her PhD in Sociology from Brown University in 1997 and has taught in the Sociology Department at Lehman College since 2002. Lehman College hosts its own collection of modules and resources for sociology instruction (http://www.lehmanida.org/) and has a team of CUNY faculty who are creating a new QR instructional Web site for faculty planned to be housed at the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) at Carleton College.
Monday, November 14, 2011
The Pew Internet & American Life Project released new findings on parental monitoring of teenage children's internet activity. According to Pew, "more than three-quarters (77%) of parents say that they have checked to see what websites their child has visited." Pew also found that "two-thirds of parents of online teens have checked to see what information was available online about their child."
More parents check a child's internet activity now than in 2006, when the figure stood at 65%. Pew writes: "White parents of online teens (83%) are more likely to check the websites of their browsing teens than black parents (75%) or Latino parents (64%). Parents in higher-income households and those with at least a high school diploma are also more likely than others to check up on their teen’s online travels."
Additionally, Mothers who use the internet (75%) are more likely than fathers (55%) to say they check information on their children on the internet. Further, "higher-income parents are more likely to do this than those who live in households with more modest incomes." White and black parents are more likely to report doing so than Latino parents, and parents with higher levels of education are also more likely to research their teenage child's "digital reputation." The percentage of parents of girls aged 14-17 (72%) researching their child's internet reputation far exceeds the 55% of parents who research information on younger sons' internet reputations.39% of parents are friends or connected with their children on social networking sites, but Pew found that this connection comes with an increased likelihood of parent-child conflict. "Teens whose parents report that they are friends with their child on social network sites are more likely than teens who aren’t friends with their parents to say that they had a problem with their parents because of an experience on social media (18% vs. 5%)."
Friday, November 11, 2011
Gallup reports that the percentage of Americans with employer-based health insurance continues to decline. This is likely the result of an increasing number of unemployed and underemployed Americans, but also because there are "fewer employers offering health insurance." When Gallup started tracking Americans' health insurance sources in 2008, nearly 50% of adults 18 and older received health insurance from their employer. This percentage has decreased steadily from 2008 to today, when 44.5% of Americans say they receive employer-based health insurance.These years have also seen an increase in the percentage of uninsured Americans, from 14.6% in 2008 to 17.3% today (though Gallup warns this latter figure may be inflated because in the second half of 2011 surveys were conducted by cell phone, guaranteeing a younger--and more uninsured--respondent population). Gallup has found that 18- to 26- year-olds are less likely to be uninsured than in recent years, perhaps a result of "the provision in the new healthcare law that lets them stay on their parents' health plans until age 26."
But "the other components of the health law that have already been implemented" do not appear to be having the same impact for the larger segment of the population, as "there has been an increase among 25- to- 64-year-olds...without health insurance." These components include "tax credits to help small businesses provide health insurance to their employees and the establishment of a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan among several others." Although the percentage of Americans with government-based health insurance has declined recently, it has still increased since 2008.
Wal-Mart--which "announced in October that new part-time employees who work less than an average of 24 hours a week would no longer be able to get their health insurance from the company--" may present an example that other companies will follow moving forward. Gallup writes: "If Wal-Mart's decision is a precursor of how employers intend to manage their healthcare costs, the downward trend in employer-based healthcare will likely continue."
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Among those who have heard of the allegations, a plurality (43%) say the media coverage has been fair. 24 percent say coverage has been too tough; 14 percent that it has been too easy; and 18 percent say they don't know or neglect to answer. Unsurprisingly, Pew found that partisanship has an impact on respondents' views on the issue: "Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to say they think the allegations are true." Republicans, however, "are more likely to say media coverage has been too tough."
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Respondents correctly answered visual questions more often than verbal questions, and scored particularly well when asked to identify prominent political figures. 82% of respondents correctly identified US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 79% recognized former Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi, and 70% recognized Charmain of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke.
Respondents performed worst when asked to name the British Prime Minister (only 38% correctly chose David Cameron) and when asked to identify the universal symbol of Islam (42%).
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Interestingly, from 2008 to 2010, there was a 0.8 percent decrease in one-person households, standing out from a generally upward trend in the percentage of one-person households "over the last half of the 20th century and into the 21st century." Kreider warns against assuming the decrease was due to the recession, noting that in the past, the percentage of one-person households "doesn’t look like it is necessarily sensitive to recessions." Rather, it appears that this decrease is more closely related to the rising life expectancy of men, which has increased from 67 years of age in 1971 to 75 in 2007.
Friday, November 4, 2011
The report certainly highlights the current national public opinion amongst varying age groups. However, the graph included in the brief summary presents the data in a misleading format. Although the data points before 2012 show national exit poll data, the 2012 points show "2012 preference based on registered voters." While this may indicate the trend we may observe next year, the predictive 2012 points are misleadingly placed in the same series as more concrete data from past elections. A number of factors (such as get-out-the-vote and campaigning efforts) could influence the so-called "young-old voting gap" in the twelve months leading up to the presidential election. In addition, the Young-Old Gap figures are presented in a confusing, unexplained format. However, Pew's extended report discusses an issue that is at the forefront of much recent election research: divided public opinion in a potential Obama-Romney general election.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Concentrated poverty has also increased since 2000, particularly in the Midwest and South. Concentrated poverty in Midwestern metropolitan areas doubled from 2000 to 2005-09, rising by one-third in Southern metro areas during the same period. Writes Brookings: "The Great Lakes metro areas of Toledo, Youngstown, Detroit, and Dayton ranked among those experiencing the largest increases in concentrated poverty rates, while the South was home to metro areas posting both some of the largest increases (El Paso, Baton Rouge, and Jackson) and decreases (McAllen, Virginia Beach, and Charleston)." The concentration of poverty in Western metros decreased over this time, although Brookings predicts that this "trend...may have reversed in the wake of the late 2000s housing crisis."
Brookings states: "The recession-induced rise in poverty in the late 2000s likely further increased the concentration of poor individuals into neighborhoods of extreme poverty." Concentrated poverty in large metro areas increased by half a percentage from 2000 to 2005-09, but "estimates suggest the concentrated poverty rate rose by 3.5 percentage points in 2010 alone, to reach 15.1 percent."
Brookings has advice for efforts aimed at avoiding even higher concentrations of poverty: "Policies that foster balanced and sustainable economic growth at the regional level, and that forge connections between growing clusters of low-income neighborhoods and regional economic opportunity, will be key to longer-term progress against concentrated disadvantage."
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Statistical analysis is one of the skills advertising agencies are having trouble finding, the article said, and employers often search for months to find appropriate candidates.
The piece goes on: "The digital talent gap is driven in part by the enormous amount of user data that ad tech companies are collecting for agencies and marketers -- data that is instrumental in directing ads to consumers and analyzing trends. New hires are needed for a variety of tasks, including writing code, creating digital advertisements, Web site development and statistical analysis."
TeachingWithData.org is dedicated to providing teaching and learning materials for faculty to use in their classrooms to support students in developing their quantitative skills.