Posts made in November 2017

78%: If my employer gets a tax cut, I won’t see a pay raise

December 1, 2017

More than three-quarters (78%) of working American adults say they do not believe they will get a raise if their employers enjoy a tax cut from Republican-driven legislation that will come to a vote in the U.S. Congress within the next few days.

Specifically, in a national survey of 9,504 adults conducted earlier this month on behalf of The New York Times by SurveyMonkey, even 70% of self-identified Republicans—and roughly 65% of respondents who said they strongly approved of President Trump’s performance in office — said they didn’t think they would get a pay increase.

Conversely, Republican legislators have staunchly contended that their plan to cut corporate taxes will increase wages for American workers. For example, The White House Council of Economic Advisers released a report, “Corporate Tax Reform and Wages: Theory and Evidence,” last month that estimated that the proposed corporate tax cut would increase a typical U.S. household’s income by $3,000 to $7,000 a year — a claim many independent economists have dismissed as unrealistic.

However, fully 85% of Independents and Democrats don’t think they will see a salary hike.

“There’s this widespread disbelief among Republicans, as there is among Democrats and Independents, that tax cuts for employers will rebound to their pocketbooks,” said Jon Cohen, vice president of Survey Research for SurveyMonkey.

Americans’ views of the tax plan in general are more divided. The Times survey, which was conducted in early November, found that 52 percent of respondents said they disapproved of the plan, compared with 44 percent who said they supported it. (The survey did not distinguish between the House and Senate versions of the plan.) That is generally in line with other polls, although some have put support for the plan significantly lower.

In general, opinions of the Republican plan split predictably along partisan lines. More than 80 percent of Republicans said they supported the plan, and more than 80 percent of Democrats said they opposed it. Most Republicans likewise said they believed that they would benefit personally from the plan, while few Democrats believed the same.

The strong overall support for the bill among Republicans masks significant disagreement beneath the surface, however. The survey showed that support for the plan was much stronger among Republicans who considered themselves “very conservative” than those who considered themselves conservative or moderate. And many moderate Republicans and independents said they were less interested in cutting taxes than in reducing the federal budget deficit, a potential trouble spot for a bill that most analyses suggest could add $1 trillion or more to the deficit.

Republicans still have time to win over skeptics. Only about a quarter of respondents to the Times survey said they were paying close attention to the tax plan. But in a potential sign of trouble for the bill, people who said they were watching the process closely were more likely to oppose it — and to oppose it strongly — than those paying less attention.

Research contact:  @bencasselman

Time away is greatest adversity for active-duty military families

December 1, 2017

A survey of military families conducted last spring among 7,800 households of service members nationwide has found that their greatest concern is the impact of long-term separations on immediate and extended relatives, from children to adults.

The 2017 Blue Star Families annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey found that, for the first time in eight years, separation is the top concern among both spouses (46%) and active duty members (47%)—topping military spouse employment, pay and benefits, military child education, and impact of deployment on children. Even lower on the list were quality of life, retirement benefits, veteran employment, PTSD/combat stress, and service member and veteran suicides.

Indeed, nearly 33%  of military family respondents had experienced at least 25% of the last 16 years away from their families and 40% reported experiencing more than six months of family separation in the last 18 months.

“This survey brings new and critical insight into the challenges facing our armed forces and their families today and will be a valuable tool for government, nonprofits and our communities who want to make a difference,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families.

“The 2017 Military Family Lifestyle Survey results indicate that while the majority of our military members and their spouses are satisfied with military life, those who serve our nation are increasingly concerned regarding the impact of military service on their families,” said Cristin Orr Shiffer, senior advisor for Research and Policy at Blue Star Families.  “Our nation’s unprecedented 16 years of war has fundamentally redefined what it means to serve, for service members and especially for their families.”

The survey, which is a collaboration between Blue Star Families and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), also showed that military families are concerned about community integration, the overall costs of service— and sometimes, lack of support for the diverse, 21st century workforce.

Among the key findings:

  • 60% of military families would not recommend military service to their own child, a decrease of 11% in three years;
  • 51% feel as if they don’t belong in their local, civilian communities;
  • 40% of service members had experienced more than six months of separation from their families during the past 18 months;
  • 28% of spouses indicated that they were unemployed and actively seeking work;
  • 30% of military caregivers indicated they were unemployed and actively seeking work and 43% reported debt reduction was their top financial goal; and
  • 67% of female service members could not find childcare versus only 33% of male service members who reported the same.

On the plus side, 95% of male and 93% of female veteran respondents indicated that military service had made a positive impact on their life. Similarly, 97% and 96% of male and female veteran respondents, respectively, reported feeling pride from their accomplishments during military service.

Fully 88% of both male and female veteran respondents indicated they appreciate the little things in life more now, and male (96%) and female (97%) veteran respondents reported having matured as a result of their service.

However, the caregivers in military families requested more diverse forms of support, with mental health and financial support especially acute needs. Nearly one-third of military caregiver respondents reported being unemployed (seeking work) and 50% reported feeling isolated.

Of those caregiver respondents who reported caring for someone with emotional or mental health problems, the majority (53%) reported that the service member had been diagnosed with anxiety or depression (45%).

As a specific result of family concerns, nearly one-third of the 22% of service member respondents indicated that they planned to transition out of military service in the next two years.

America has the greatest all-volunteer force and our military families make tremendous sacrifices,” said John Bird, VADM (ret.) and senior vice president of Military Affairs at USAA, the presenting sponsor of the survey. “This survey underscores the responsibility we have to better support our military families and caregivers.”

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Millennials want a third political party

December 1, 2017

Most Millennials — 71 percent — say the Republican and Democratic parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed, according to the results of an NBC News/GenForward poll released on November 29.

Conducted by the University of Chicago on behalf of the television network from October 26 through November 10 among 1,876 adults age 18-34, the poll found that 60% disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job; while 59% have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party and 42% have an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party. On the whole, Millennials overwhelmingly do not think either party cares about people like them.

What’s more, 63% of respondents disapprove of the way in which President Donald Trump is handling his job. Only 6% strongly approve of his job performance and 16% approve.

These views may help explain why a large majority of young adults — across racial subgroups, genders and partisan affiliations — say a third major party is needed.

White Millennials, at 75%, are most likely to express a desire for a third party, with strong majorities of African-Americans (69%), Asian-Americans (69%) and Latinos (64%) agreeing.

Three quarters of men(74%) said that a third major party is needed and only 23% said the Republican and Democratic parties do an adequate job representing the American people. Women were more likely to say that the parties do an adequate job (29%)—but a sizeable majority (69%) still said a third party is needed.

Independent Millennials who do not lean toward either party and Millennials who identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaners were more likely to say a third party is needed (74% and 75%, respectively) than Millennials who identify as Republicans or Republican-leaners (67%). Three in 10 Republicans said the parties do an adequate job, compared to one-quarter of Democrats and only 22% of Independents.

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Vote: Lie of the Year 2017

Update: On December 12, the PolitiFact website announced the winner: Coming in with more than 56% of the reader vote, President Donald Trump’s statement, “This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story,” won the competition for most significant falsehood of 2017. It is the same falsehood selected by the PolitiFact editorial staff for Lie of the Year.

November 30, 2017

PolitiFact—a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics—soon will announce its Lie of the Year — the most egregious falsehood of 2017, as chosen by the news organization’s editors and reporters

However, the website also is inviting its followers to vote for the Readers’ Choice award.  Voters can use a link to the survey to choose among the following falsehoods for their annual favorite:

That was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period.”—(Former) Press Secretary Sean Spicer on January 21, in a press conference

“Barack Obama didn’t do executive orders in the beginning. Host Whoopi Goldberg on January 25, in a segment on ABC’s “The View”

Rex Tillerson wont divest from Exxon.”— Senator Charles Schumer on Jan. 27, in a tweet

“I have not called for impeachment” of President Donald Trump.— Representative Maxine Waters on April 18, in an interview on MSNBC

 Nobody dies because they dont have access to healthcare.— Representative Raul Labrador on May 5, in a town hall event

 This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. Its an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they shouldve won.”— President Donald Trump on May 11, in an interview with NBC News

Every single year that theres an increase (in temperature), its within the margin of error—meaning it isnt increasing.— TV personality Greg Gutfeld on June 2, on Fox News’ “The Five” show

“White nationalist protestors in Charlottesville had a permit. The other group didnt have a permit.— President Donald Trump on August 15, during a question-and-answer session

 The United States ended slavery around the world, and maybe we should get some credit for that, too.—TV commentator Tucker Carlson on August 15, in comments on “Tucker Carlson Tonight”

 Weve got dozens of countries around America that have zero insurers left. —Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on August 21, during a CNN town hall broadcast

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Slightly slimmer majority of 52% still demands net neutrality

November 30, 2017

Net neutrality has lost some of its advocates since Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced last April that he planned to eliminate Obama-era regulations on Internet service providers.

A nationwide poll conducted by Morning Consult and Politico, and released on November 29, has determined that 52% of registered voters support net neutrality regulations now, compared with 18% who say they don’t.

The new poll shows an 8-percentage-point decline in support for the rules since the pollsters’ previous survey in June, when 60% of respondents supported net neutrality. At that time, only 17% of the American electorate—mostly Republicans—opposed the regulations.

What exactly is net neutrality? It is a principle that prohibits high-speed Internet service providers from stopping. slowing down, or prioritizing the delivery of website content or applications. It also prevents such providers from charging additional fees for high-quality streaming and other services.

The issue has been one of the very few recently that cuts across party lines, according to a report by CNBC. Fully 55% of Democrats and 53% of Republicans said in the latest survey that they support net neutrality.

However, despite the change in polling results, Morning Consult said the research suggests net neutrality “has not captured the nation’s attention.”

According to CNBC, Kyle Dropp, Morning Consult’s co-founder and chief research officer, said that only 46% of Americans “say they have heard a lot or some about net neutrality recently,” compared with 67% for tax reform.

The poll contacted 1,994 U.S. voters from November. 21 through November 25.

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Marriage may reduce the risk of dementia

November 30, 2017

Those of us who at some time in our lives have been “head over heels” for a partner or spouse probably are not headed for dementia in the future, according to findings of a study released on November 28.

Indeed, a paper published this week in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry asserts that individuals who always have been single have a 42% higher risk of developing dementia than people who are married or in a committed relationship. The study was based on 15 analyses with a cumulative cohort of over 800,000 patients.

Dementia—a decline in memory or cognition severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities—usually occurs in older age. The most common form is Alzheimer’s disease.

Those who are widowed could have a 20% higher risk, the researchers determined. They could not examine whether the duration of being widowed or divorced had any influence on the findings.There was no similar risk found for those who had been divorced.

Marital status has the potential to affect dementia risk by increasing daily social interaction, the researchers found. Specifically, marriage may offer more opportunities for communications and contacts within the local community, which is associated with reduced dementia risk and reduced harmful lifestyle behaviors, they said.

They also determined that bereavement or divorce in people who have been married may promote dementia development through stress, which is pathogenic and associated with increased dementia risk.

By comparison, the health of unmarried Americans is worse than that of couples; being married is related to improved cancer survival; and widowhood is associated with disability in older people.13

That higher risk for singles remained even after researchers accounted for a person’s physical health, said Andrew Sommerlad, a research fellow and psychiatrist at University College London in Britain. That increased risk appeared to be similar to other known dementia risks, such as having diabetes or high blood pressure, he said.

“We don’t think that it is marriage itself or wearing a wedding ring which reduces people’s risk of dementia,” he told CNN recently.

“Instead, our research suggests that the possible protective effect is linked to various lifestyle factors which are known to accompany marriage, such as living a generally healthier lifestyle and having more social stimulation as a result of living with a spouse or partner,” he said.

Such factors as diet, physical activity, smoking and sleep also affect the risk.

The good news? As being unmarried becomes more of a social norm, it is likely that lifestyle differences between married and unmarried people are lessening, he researchers believe.


Nationwide support for Small Business Saturday grows to over 100 million

November 29, 2017

More than 100 million American shoppers reported buying from local, independently owned retailers during the eighth annual post-Black Friday weekend event, Small Business Saturday, on November 25.

According to data from the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights survey—conducted by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and American Express and released on Cyber Monday—about 43% of all U.S. adults either shopped or dined at a small business on November 25.

What’s more, fully 70% of respondents nationwide said they were well aware of the event.

When survey respondents were asked which type of business is most associated with their local communities, 32% mentioned a bar or a restaurant. That was nearly three times the next-highest responses: 11% for a supermarket and 10% for a bakery.

The 2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey also found:

  • As many as 80% of all consumers surveyed say at least some of their holiday shopping will be done at small, independently owned retailers or restaurants;
  • Three-quarters (75%) of all consumers surveyed planned on going to one or more small businesses as part of their holiday shopping;
  • 90% of all consumers surveyed agreed it is important for them to support small, independently owned restaurants and bars;
  • Of consumers who are aware of Small Business Saturday, 89% agree that the day encourages them to “shop small” all year long, not just during the holiday season;
  • For those who were aware of the event and who planned to shop on Small Business Saturday, 44% expected to spend more this year than they did last year.

“Supporting small businesses is critical to the health and livelihood of our national economy and local communities,” said NFIB CEO and President Juanita Duggan. “We are proud to partner with American Express to bring attention to the importance of small business and look forward to another successful Small Business Saturday.”

Research contact:

Nearly 80% oppose GOP maneuver to let churches endorse candidates

November 29, 2017

The GOP-led Congress is chipping away at the separation of church and state that has long been viewed as a linchpin of U.S. democracy—and, according to findings of a poll released on September 28 by the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland, 79% of Americans oppose this effort.

For years, a group of largely evangelical Christian conservatives has pushed the U.S. regulators to abolish the so-called Johnson Amendment, a provision of the IRS tax code created in 1954 that bars non-profits and churches from endorsing political candidates, according to a report by Think Progress.

Now, the Congressional Religious Right has stealthily included a provision in their embattled tax bills, the online news source reports, that would pare down restrictions prohibiting houses of

However, resistance to the idea is bipartisan: 88% of Democrats, 7% of Independents, and 71% of Republicans all disapproved of the idea—and 55% have stated that it is “very important” to keep current law intact.

Interestingly enough,  56% of respondents to the survey who said that they identify as Evangelical still oppose the proposal, while 43% were in favor. However among Republican Evangelicals a slight majority—52%–favored the idea.

“Americans are frustrated with the degree of partisan polarization in this country. The idea of churches and universities becoming channels for partisan political activity makes this proposal a non-starter with Republican and Democratic voters alike,” states Steven Kull, director of the Program for Public Consultation.

The survey was conducted online from September 7 through October 3 among 2,482 registered voters, provided by Nielsen Scarborough.

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The fat of the land: Americans are heavier, but happy

November 29, 2017

Americans continue to pile on the pounds, according to the findings of a Gallup poll released on November 22—but few consider their weight to be a problem. A majority of men (59%) and women (53%) now see their weight as “about right,” while 6% of both sexes think they are underweight.

From 2003 through 2007 and from 2013 through 2017, the self-reported weight of Americans edged up—along with the number of pounds that respondents consider to be their “ideal” weight—according to the researchers. Indeed, as a nation, our ideal weight has increased by four pounds over that time period, from 157 pounds to 161 pounds. However, the number of Americans who consider themselves to be overweight actually has declined—from 41% to 38%.

And in line with those findings, the percentage of Americans who say they want to lose weight has declined from 60% to 52%. .

Women are more likely than men to describe themselves as overweight. What’s more, the difference between their self-reported weight and their “ideal weight” is larger than it is for men. During the past five years, Gallup reported, there has been an average 18-pound difference between women’s 158-pound actual weight and their 140-pound ideal weight. The gap for men is 12 pounds: 195-pound actual weight versus 183-pound ideal weight.

Not only do men and women differ in their perceptions of how far they are from their ideal weight, but those differences also show up when looking at age, education and income levels.

The higher the income bracket for men, the wider the gap, on average, between actual weight and ideal weight. For those with annual household incomes of less than $30,000, the average difference is nine pounds, but for men with annual incomes of $75,000 or more, the difference averages 14 pounds — most of it the result of more affluent men weighing more on average than those with lower incomes.

The opposite is true for women: Those with household incomes of less than $30,000 have an average difference between actual and ideal weight of 22 pounds, but it drops to 15 pounds for those in the $75,000-and-above income bracket. A similar split occurs with regard to education. Men with no college have the smallest gap between what they want to weigh and what they do weigh. Women with no college have the largest gap.

About 5,000 adult Americans were interviewed by telephone for each of the polls used to arrive at this year’s findings.

Research contact:

Nearly 40% believe conspiracy theories about aviation chemtrails

November 28, 2017

Today, airlines are nearly as detested as banks and lawyers—and poor or exploitative customer services are just two of the reasons why.

Indeed, perhaps the most popular conspiracy theory online now vilifies chemtrails—the streaks in the sky deposited by aircraft, which sometimes are speculated to be chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed for unknown (but dangerous) purposes.

Now, a new study based on polling data and online postings–conducted by the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Harvard Kennedy School—finds that a humongous number of people believe that the vapor trails emitted by airplanes are part of some weather control or mind control plot, according to a November 27 story on

The Harvard University paper presents the results of a nationally representative, 1,000-subject poll under the auspices of the 36,000-subject 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES); as well as an analysis of the universe of social media mentions of geoengineering.

The data show that about 10% of Americans think the chemtrails conspiracy is “completely true’” and that a further 20% to 30% of respondents think that the conspiracy is “somewhat true”—with no apparent difference by party affiliation or strength of partisanship.

In addition, the researchers said, conspiratorial views have accounted for about 60% of geoengineering discourse on social media over the past decade. The anonymity of social media appears to encourage the spread of this information; as does the general acceptance online of unverified or “fake news.”

“As with so many conspiracy theories,” Patheos said, “people who believe them [think that] there is a vast conspiracy of virtually every institution to cover all these things up. Believing they have secret knowledge of this organization … makes them believe that they are part of some resistance movement to an evil that is all-powerful and scarcely imaginable in its scope, which conditions the more unhinged among them to commit violence .

“And scientists involved in debunking the chemtrail nonsense have received many death threats, as well,” the posting informs us, noting, “This is not just harmless fantasizing. It has a real cost.”

Research contact:  (Harvard)