How Americans view key institutions is fragmenting upon party lines, as partisan branding has moved beyond the ballot box and hardened in to perspectives on what effects our daily lives. Has the age of alternative facts fundamentally altered the nation?
About as many Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents think the news media has a positive (44%) as negative (46%) impact on the way things are going in the country. The share of Democrats holding a positive view of the news media’s impact has increased 11 percentage points since last August (33%).
Republicans, by about eight-to-one (85% to 10%), say the news media has a negative effect. These views have changed little in the past few years.
Aside from their growing differences over the impact of colleges and the news media, Republicans and Democrats remain far apart in their assessments of the effects of other institutions on the nation. Democrats continue to be more likely than Republicans to view labor unions positively (59% vs. 33%), while larger shares of
Republicans have positive views of churches and religious institutions (73% of Republicans vs. 50% of Democrats) and banks and financial institutions (46% vs. 33%).
Yet even as partisan divides in views of some of these institutions have widened in recent years, the public’s overall evaluations are little changed. Majorities of Americans say churches and religious organizations (59%) and colleges and universities (55%) have a positive effect. Nearly half (47%) say labor unions have a positive impact; 32% see their impact negatively.
Views of the impact of banks and other
financial institutions are more negative (46%)
than positive (39%). And by roughly two-to-
one (63% to 28%), more Americans say that
the national news media has a negative than positive effect on the way things are going in the country.
While a majority of the public (55%) continues to say that colleges and universities have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country these days, Republicans express increasingly negative views.
A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58%) now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, up from 45% last year. By contrast, most Democrats and Democratic leaners (72%) say colleges and universities have a positive effect, which is little changed from recent years.
The national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted June 8-18 among 2,504 adults, finds that partisan differences in views of the national news media, already wide, have grown even wider. Democrats’ views of the effect of the national news media have grown more positive over the past year, while Republicans remain overwhelmingly negative.
Currently, Democrats are divided in their views of the effects of the national news media. Nearly half of Democrats and Democratic leaners say the news media has a negative impact on the country (46%) while about as many (44%) view its impact positively.
This marks a major shift from just a year ago, when 33% of Democrats said the national news media had a positive effect
and 59% said it had a negative effect.
Republicans’ views of the news media’s impact are virtually unchanged from last year, but have grown more negative since 2010. Currently, 85% of Republicans and Republican leaners say the news media has a negative effect on the way things are going in the country, up from 76% two years ago and 68% in 2010.