Morning Buzz | Americans Agree: We Need a Break From the News

Americans Agree: We Need a Break From the News
In a recent analysis for PRRI, Editorial Associate Douglas Barclay discusses one rare point of bipartisan unity: the need to take a break from the news. Barclay writes, citing recent PRRI data, “Seventy-seven percent of Republicans, who elected a president who can create a news cycle with a single tweet, feel that they need to take a step back. That view is shared by Democrats, with 70 percent saying they should take a break.” The PRRI/ The Atlantic survey also found that white women (80 percent) are among the most likely to say that they need a break from the news, 12 points higher than white men (68 percent).
Justice Department Opens Investigation into Roman Catholic Church of Philadelphia
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Philadelphia has begun to issue subpoenas for a Justice Department investigation into alleged sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church of Pennsylvania, according to The Associated Press. The investigation follows a grand jury report released in August that described years of systematic abuse and cover up within the Church. The 1,356-page report included allegations dating back seventy years. “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades,” the grand jury report read. In the months that have followed, Pope Francis and many church leaders have come under major scrutiny, with some making the accusation that they had prior knowledge about the allegations. A recent Pew Research Center survey shows that 31 percent of American Catholics say the pope is doing an “excellent” or “good” of job addressing the abuse scandal, down 24 percentage points from 2015 and down 14 points from January of this year. A PRRI report from 2016 shows that those who were raised Catholic are more likely than those raised in any other religion to cite the clergy sexual-abuse scandal (32 percent vs. 19 percent) as a primary reason for why they left the Church.
Caruso: Don’t Abandon the Republican Party Just Yet
Some Republicans are leaving their party over disagreements with President Donald Trump, but writer Jay Caruso is encouraging GOP members to ride things out. Writing in The Atlantic, Caruso explains why despite his disagreements with Trump, he won’t be abandoning the party like fellow conservatives Max Boot, George Will, and Tom Nichols. That’s because the Republican Party, in Caruso’s opinion, still has superior politicians and values. Caruso writes, “I trust Senators Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, James Lankford, and Tim Scott; Governor Brian Sandoval, Congresswoman Kristi Noem, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley; and other like-minded, conservative Republicans more than any Democrat.”
PRRI Public Fellows Receive Praise Across the Country
PRRI Public Fellow Dr. Jenna Reinbold, an associate professor of religion at Colgate University, has received an Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in the category of Analytical-Descriptive Studies from the American Academy of Religion (AAR) for her recent book. The AAR describes the book, Seeing the Myth in Human Rights, as an “original and nuanced” text that “offers a new way through debates about the foundations of human rights.” Another PRRI Public Fellow, Dr. Rebecca Todd Peters, recently won the 2018 Walter Wink Award for Scholar-Activism from Auburn Seminary for her new book, Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument For Reproductive Justice. Dr. Peters is professor of religious studies and director of the Poverty and Social Program at Elon University. Made possible by a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, the PRRI Public Fellows Program brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines to engage in data-driven dialogue, thought leadership, commentary, and teaching on the interplay of religion, politics, and culture. Find out more here.
Australia Moves Toward Full Decriminalization of Abortion
On Wednesday, lawmakers in the Australian state of Queensland repealed a century-old law that made abortion a criminal offense punishable with jail time. Lawmakers voted 50-41 in favor of decriminalization. According to Eli Meixler of Time, this move may be related to an increase in the number of women holding elected office throughout the state. “Queensland’s decriminalization of abortion comes in the wake of a significant increase in the number of women representing the state, particularly in leadership positions. In addition to [Annastacia] Palaszczuk, who became the first, female state premier to achieve reelection in Australia last year, Queensland’s deputy premier and half of the cabinet are women,” Meixler writes. Five of Australia’s six states have now decriminalized abortion. In the United States, abortion services are legal, but they are restricted or hard to access in many states. Recent PRRI research indicates that there is still a partisan divide among Americans over the legality of abortion. Seventy-three percent of Democrats believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to only 40 percent of Republicans. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans think it should be illegal, compared to 23 percent of Democrats.
Recent Republican Rhetoric on Healthcare Could Boost Democrats
President Trump’s insult-driven record might seem like a gold mine for Democratic candidates, but Jennifer Rubin, an opinion writer at The Washington Post, argues that it is actually Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who is aiding Democrats by doubling down on unpopular policies. In a recent interview with Bloomberg News,McConnell reminded voters of the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and blamed popular social programs like Medicare and Medicaid for the federal deficit. This, according to Rubin, only “reiterated the policy stances that voters fear most.”Per PRRI’s recent survey, a majority (53 percent) say protecting health care coverage for pre-existing conditions is a critical issue for them personally. Per 2017 PRRI data, nearly seven in ten (69 percent) Americans oppose reducing federal funding for Medicaid. Fewer than three in ten (28 percent) Americans favor reducing federal funding to Medicaid.