Most Americans expect next mass shooting to happen in next three months: Reuters/Ipsos poll

Mourners taking part in a vigil at El Paso High School after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 3, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

By Maria Caspani

(Reuters) – Nearly half of all Americans expect another mass shooting will happen soon in the United States, according to a Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll released on Friday, as the nation reels from rampages in California, Texas and Ohio.

The Aug. 7-8 survey found that 78% of Americans said it was likely that such an attack would take place in the next three months, including 49% who said one was “highly likely.” Another 10% said a mass shooting was unlikely in three months and the rest said they did not know.

The poll was conducted after two mass shootings earlier in August in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, and a third in Gilroy, California, last month that left 36 people dead. The attacks have rattled the country and renewed calls for tougher gun laws.

“You are on guard because you never know when it’s going to happen and where,” said Suzanne Fink, 59, a Republican from Troutman, North Carolina. “It has been happening much too often and it’s like a copycat effect.”

There is no set definition of a mass shooting, but the nonprofit organization Gun Violence Archive has tallied more than 250 such incidents so far this year alone – for an average of more than one a day – a widely cited figure that counts events in which four or more people were either shot and killed or shot and wounded.

Following the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, Democrats, including several 2020 presidential candidates criticized Republican President Donald Trump for rhetoric they labeled as racist and hard-line immigration polices, saying they stoked violence.

Former Texas congressman and presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke on Wednesday called the shooting in El Paso “an act of terror inspired by your racism” in response to a tweet by Trump.

The president, who condemned “sinister ideologies” and hate in a televised speech on Monday, has expressed support for tightening background checks for gun purchases.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday he would not call the Senate back early to consider new gun legislation, rejecting a plea from more than 200 U.S. mayors, including two whose cities endured mass shootings last weekend.

According to the poll, 69% of U.S. adults want “strong” or “moderate” restrictions placed on firearms.

The poll also found that half of all Americans, including two-thirds of Democrats and a third of Republicans, believe that “the way people talk about immigration encourages acts of violence.”

A majority of U.S. adults considers “random acts of violence,” including mass shootings, to be the biggest threat to their safety, while one in four pointed to politically or religiously motivated domestic terrorism as the biggest safety threat. About one in six cited foreign terrorism.

People cited mental health, racism and bigotry and easy access to firearms as the top three causes of mass shootings in the United States, while only about one in six – and one in four Republicans – said in the poll that video games were to blame.

In his speech on Monday, Trump mentioned video games and mental illness as factors in mass shootings. Research studies have shown little or no link between violent video games and shootings.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,116 adults and has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani; Editing by Chris Kahn and Jonathan Oatis)

Democrats and Republicans can’t even agree on the weather: Reuters/Ipsos poll

The contents of grain silos which burst from flood damage are shown in Fremont County Iowa, U.S., March 29, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Polansek

By Maria Caspani

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Only 200 miles separate Michael Tilden and Miranda Garcia in rain-soaked Iowa. But they are worlds apart when it comes to their opinion of the weather.

Garcia, a 38-year-old former journalist and Democrat from Des Moines, thinks flooding has been getting worse in the state, which just came out of its wettest 12-months on record. Tilden, a 44-year-old math teacher and Republican from Sioux City, thinks otherwise: “I’ve noticed essentially the same weather pattern every single year,” he said.

Their different takes underscore a broader truth about the way Americans perceive extreme weather: Democrats are far more likely to believe droughts, floods, wildfires, hurricanes and tropical storms have become more frequent or intense where they live in the last decade, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

The divergence shows how years of political squabbling over global warming – including disputes over its existence – have grown deep roots, distorting the way Americans view the world around them. The divide will play into the 2020 election as Democratic hopefuls seek to sell aggressive proposals to reduce or even end fossil fuel consumption by drawing links between climate change and recent floods, storms and wildfires.

Nearly two-thirds of Democrats believe severe thunderstorms and floods have become more frequent, compared to 42% and 50% of Republicans, respectively, according to the poll.

About half of Democrats, meanwhile, think droughts, hurricanes and tropical storms are more common in their region, versus less than a third of Republicans, according to the poll.

Similarly, nearly seven in 10 Democrats said in the poll that severe weather events such as thunderstorms have become more intense, compared to 4 of 10 Republicans. And nearly half of Republicans said there has been no change in the intensity of severe weather over the past decade, versus a fifth of Democrats.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English between June 11 and 14 and gathered responses from 3,281 people. It has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 2 percentage points up or down.

U.S. government researchers have concluded that tropical cyclone activity, rainfall, and the frequency of intense single-day storms have been on the rise, according to data compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency.

For example, six of the 10 most active years for tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin since 1950 have occurred since the mid-1990s, and nine of the top 10 years for extreme one-day precipitation events nationwide have occurred since 1990, according to the data.

“We do expect to see more intense storms,” said David Easterling, a spokesman for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

An overwhelming majority of scientists believe human consumption of fossil fuels is driving sweeping changes in the global climate by ramping up the concentration of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. But it is impossible to draw a direct link between the changes in U.S. weather in the recent past to the larger trend of warming.

President Donald Trump has cast doubt on the science of climate change, saying he believes that research into its severity, causes and effects is not yet settled. Two years ago he announced the United States would withdraw from a global pact to reduce carbon emissions, the Paris Climate Agreement, a deal Trump said could damage the U.S. economy.

Still, a majority of Republicans believe the United States should take “aggressive action” to combat global warming, Reuters polling shows.

Some Republican lawmakers have offered proposals for “market-based” approaches to fend off climate change, such as cap-and-trade systems that would force companies to cut carbon emissions or buy credits from those that do.

Democrats are pushing more aggressive ideas. Nearly all of the party’s presidential hopefuls, who seek to unseat Trump in next year’s election, have put forward proposals to end U.S. fossil fuels consumption within a few decades to make the country carbon neutral.

Trump has slammed the idea, saying it would “kill millions of jobs” and “crush the dreams of the poorest Americans.”

PARTISAN GOGGLES

Jennifer Marlon, a research scientist at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, said the divergence in the way American perceive the weather is being driven by factors including the news they consume and their social circles.

Liberals are more likely to expose themselves to news outlets and people who believe climate change is an urgent threat that affects current weather patterns. For more conservative Americans, the link between weather and climate change is “not a typical conversation,” Marlon said.

Last year, the Yale program – which carries out scientific research on public knowledge about climate change – set out to map the partisan divide on how people perceive the effects of global warming across the United States.

It found that 22% of Republicans reported personally experiencing climate change, compared to 60% of Democrats.

Scientists and researchers at the University of Michigan, the University of Exeter and others came to a similar conclusion in a 2018 study which found that political bias and partisan news reporting can affect whether people indicate experiencing certain extreme weather events.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Brian Thevenot)

Half of American adults expect war with Iran ‘within next few years’: Reuters/Ipsos poll

FILE PHOTO: A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage after a group picture with foreign ministers and representatives of the U.S., Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union during Iran nuclear talks at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria, July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

By Chris Kahn

(Reuters) – Half of all Americans believe that the United States will go to war with Iran “within the next few years,” according to a Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll released on Tuesday amid increased tensions between the two countries.

While Americans are more concerned about Iran as a security threat to the United States now than they were last year, few would be in favor of a pre-emptive attack on the Iranian military. But if Iran attacked U.S. military forces first, four out of five believed the United States should respond militarily in a full or limited way, the May 17-20 poll showed.

Historically tense relations between Washington and Tehran worsened in May after U.S. President Donald Trump hardened his anti-Iran stance and restored all sanctions on Iranian oil exports following his decision a year ago to pull the United States out of a 2015 international nuclear accord with Tehran.

The United States moved an aircraft carrier and forces to the Gulf region in response to intelligence that Iran may be plotting against U.S. interests, an assertion Iran denies.

Nearly half – 49% – of all Americans disapprove of how Republican Trump is handling relations with Iran, the poll found, with 31% saying they strongly disapprove. Overall, 39% approve of Trump’s policy.

The survey showed that 51% of adults felt that the United States and Iran would go to war within the next few years, up 8 percentage points from a similar poll published last June. In this year’s poll, Democrats and Republicans were both more likely to see Iran as a threat and to say war was likely.

Iran was characterized by 53% of adults in the United States as either a “serious” or “imminent” threat, up 6 percentage points from a similar poll from last July. In comparison, 58% of Americans characterized North Korea as a threat and 51% characterized Russia as a threat.

Despite their concerns, 60% of Americans said the United States should not conduct a pre-emptive attack on the Iranian military, while 12% advocate for striking first.

If Iran attacked, however, 79% said that the U.S. military should retaliate: 40% favored a limited response with airstrikes, while 39% favored a full invasion.

Both the United States and Iran have said they do not want war, although there have been bellicose statements from both.

Despite Trump’s decision to withdraw, the poll showed 61% of Americans still supported the 2015 deal between Iran and world powers to curb Iran’s potential pathway to a nuclear bomb in return for sanctions relief. Republicans also favored the accord negotiated by the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama, with a little more than half saying they supported it.

Gulf allies and U.S. government officials have said they believe Iran-backed groups are responsible for a series of attacks on shipping and pipelines in the Gulf in the last week.

Trump has said he would like to negotiate with the Islamic Republic’s leaders. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejected talks on Tuesday and has said “economic war” is being waged against Iran.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,007 adults, including 377 Democrats and 313 Republicans, and has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 4 percentage points.

To see a copy of the full poll results and methodology, click here: https://tmsnrt.rs/2WUpjFT

(Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Mary Milliken and Grant McCool)

Americans support gun control but doubt lawmakers will act: Reuters

FILE PHOTO: A prospective buyer examines an AR-15 at the "Ready Gunner" gun store In Provo, Utah, U.S. in Provo, Utah, U.S., June 21, 2016. REUTERS/George Frey/File Photo

By Chris Kahn

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Most Americans want tougher gun laws but have little confidence their lawmakers will take action, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday ahead of the one-year anniversary of the country’s deadliest high school shooting.

The poll of more than 6,800 adults reflects widespread frustration with state and federal lawmakers after decades of mass shootings in the United States. The Feb. 14, 2018, attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 students and staff.

According to the poll, 69 percent of Americans, including 85 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Republicans, want strong or moderate restrictions placed on firearms. To stop gun violence, 55 percent said they wanted policies that make it tougher to own guns, while 10 percent said making firearm ownership easier would be better.

The poll shows public support for strong firearms restrictions dipped slightly from a year ago, when the media was closely following the Parkland shooting, but overall support for gun restrictions has risen since the poll started asking about gun control in 2012.

Among those who want tougher gun laws now, only 14 percent said they were ‘very confident’ their representatives understood their views on firearms, and just 8 percent felt ‘very confident’ their elected representatives would do anything about it.

Taletha Whitley, 41, of Clayton, North Carolina, said lawmakers were too dependent on campaign contributions from gun rights groups to care about public opinion.

“It would take money out of their pockets to write gun control laws,” said Whitley, a Democrat who works in customer service for a local grocery chain. “That’s why they haven’t done anything about all of these mass shootings. It’s about the dollars.”

The findings underscore the challenges for gun safety advocates who, even after a banner legislative and electoral year in 2018, continue to push against the perception that the gun lobby commands the debate.

Gun control laws have been passed in 20 states since the Parkland shooting, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a group founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Gun control advocates also outspent the National Rifle Association during last year’s congressional elections, and 150 of the 196 candidates Everytown endorsed won their races for state and federal offices.

Shannon Watts, who founded Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America after the 2012 elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, said it has taken years to build a community of activists capable of taking on the NRA. After an effort to overhaul gun laws failed in 2013, Watts continued to recruit volunteers and aligned her organization with Everytown to build a network that now has a chapter in every state.

“You cannot underestimate the significance of hundreds of thousands of volunteers telling their lawmaker you have to do the right thing,” Watts said. “We tell them that when you do we’ll have your back, and when you don’t we’ll have your job.”

Watts and others are taking advantage of a drop in activity among gun rights advocates, who have been operating with less urgency now that they have an ally in the White House.

The NRA concedes that fundraising has fallen since Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in November 2016 but said gun control groups were overplaying their hand with some of their agenda.

“There’s less to do because we’ve been so successful over the years,” NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said. “We continue to defeat gun control legislation across the country while passing gun rights legislation.”

BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR GUN CONTROL

The poll found rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans largely agree on a variety of gun-control measures, including a ban on internet sales of ammunition, stopping people with a history of mental illness from buying guns, placing armed guards at schools and expanding background checks at gun shows.

Among parents with school-age children, 65 percent said they were somewhat or very worried about gun violence in schools, and a majority of those parents were supportive of efforts intended to beef up school security.

Sixty-one percent of parents said they favored publicly funding firearms training for teachers and school personnel, and 54 percent said they approved of allowing school personnel to carry guns.

Irfan Rydhan, 44, of San Jose, California, favors strong firearms restrictions but said he did not seriously think about gun control until earlier this year when he enrolled his 6-year-old in kindergarten.

“Obviously there’s a lot of anxiety that comes with dropping your kid off at public school, and there’s no one really watching him all the time,” said Rydhan, a poll respondent. “It makes you want to be more proactive about his safety.”

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English between Jan. 11 and Jan. 28 throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 6,813 adults, including 2,701 who identified as Democrats and 2,359 who identified as Republicans. It has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

(Reporting by Chris Kahn; Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Tom Brown)

Fed interest rate hike expected next week, three hikes expected in 2018/poll

The Federal Reserve headquarters in Washington September 16 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

By Shrutee Sarkar

BENGALURU (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve is almost certain to raise interest rates later this month, according to a Reuters poll of economists, a majority of whom now expect three more rate rises next year compared with two when surveyed just weeks ago.

The results, from a survey taken just before the U.S. Senate voted to pass tax cuts that are expected to add about $1.4 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, show economists were already becoming more convinced that rates will need to go even higher.

While about 80 percent of economists surveyed in October said such tax cuts were not necessary, the passage of the bill, President Donald Trump’s first major legislative success, means the forecast risks have shifted toward higher rates, and faster.

The poll’s newly raised expectations for three rate rises next year are now in line with the Fed’s own projections. But they come despite a split among U.S. policymakers on the outlook for inflation, which has remained persistently low.

That is a similar challenge faced by other major central banks, who are generally turning away from easy monetary policy put in place since the financial crisis, looking through still-weak wage inflation and overall price pressures for now.

The core personal consumption expenditures price index (PCE), which excludes food and energy and is the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, has undershot the central bank’s 2 percent target for nearly 5-1/2 years.

The latest Reuters poll results suggest it is expected to average below 2 percent until 2019.

While the U.S. economy expanded in the third quarter at a 3.3 percent annualized rate, its fastest pace in three years, the latest Reuters poll – taken mostly before the release of that data – suggested that may be the best growth rate at least until the second half of 2019.

The most optimistic growth forecast at any point over the next year or so was 3.7 percent, well below the post-financial crisis peak of 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Still, all the 103 economists polled, including 19 large banks that deal directly with the Fed, said the federal funds rate will go up again in December by 25 basis points, to 1.25-1.50 percent.

“This is about just getting back to a neutral level where monetary policy is neither encouraging growth or pushing against growth,” said Brett Ryan, senior U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, which recently shifted its view to four rate rises next year.

“The Fed is still accommodative at the moment and we are still some ways away from the neutral fed funds rate which would in the Fed’s view be closer to 2.75 percent. The Fed can hike without slowing the economy.”

Financial markets are also pricing in over a 90 percent chance of a 25 basis-point hike in December, largely based on the falling unemployment rate and reasonably strong economic growth this year.

Asked what is the primary driver behind the Fed’s wish to raise rates further, over 40 percent of respondents said it was to tap down future inflation.

However, almost a third of economists said it is to gather enough ammunition to combat the next recession.

“At some point we are going to have a downturn and they (the Fed) are going to need to react and it is harder to do that when rates are closer to zero,” said Sam Bullard, an economist at Wells Fargo.

The remaining roughly 30 percent had varied responses, including some who said higher rates were needed to avoid risks to financial stability.

Over 90 percent of the 66 economists who answered another question said that the coming changes at the Fed – a new Fed Chair along with several new Fed Board members – will also not alter the current expected course of rate hikes.

“Both the rate tightening outlook and balance sheet reduction program will remain in place as the Fed officials fill open seats. Easing of financial regulation is likely the area that has the most forthcoming changes,” Bullard said.

 

(Additional reporting and polling by Khushboo Mittal and Mumal Rathore; Editing by Ross Finley and Hugh Lawson)

 

U.S households see spending up, job prospects improving: New York Fed survey

- A shopper walks down an aisle in a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Consumers expect to boost spending in the months ahead and voiced confidence they are more likely to find a job and less likely to lose one in a strong labor market, the New York Federal Reserve reported Monday in its latest monthly survey of consumer expectations.

Nearly 35 percent of the 1,300 heads of household included in the June poll said they were better off economically than a year go, a record in the four years the survey has been conducted.

The results bolster the current Fed outlook of an economy that continues to generate jobs despite tepid overall growth and some concern about a recent dip in inflation, improving chances the central bank can follow through with plans for a further interest rate increase later this year.

Though household expectations of inflation for the year ahead did dip slightly from the May survey, to 2.5 percent from 2.6 percent, respondents expect strong price increases of 2.8 percent over the coming three years. That’s consistent with the Fed’s current outlook that the recent weakness in inflation will prove temporary.

The survey also bolstered the view of continued strong consumption growth. Half of those polled said they expected to spend at least 3.3 percent more in the coming year, compared to median expected spending growth of 2.6 percent in the May survey. One-year-ahead expected earnings growth increased to 2.5 percent in the June survey from 2.2 percent in May.

Respondents also showed broad faith in the strength of the labor market, with a slight dip to 13.5 percent from 13.6 percent in the perceived probability of losing a job in the next year, and a jump to 59.2 percent from 56.7 percent in the probability of finding employment.

More than a fifth of respondents said they might leave a job voluntarily in the next year, up from 19.4 percent in May. Voluntarily job exits are considered a sign of a strong labor market that offers employees choices.

The online poll is designed to be a representative sample of the U.S. population. The New York Fed did not provide the margin of error for the poll.

 

(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

 

Feds to raise rates this year, likely in December after election

A man walks past the Federal Reserve Bank in Washington, D.C., U.S.

By Sumanta Dey and Deepti Govind

(Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve is likely to raise interest rates in December, after the Nov. 8 presidential election, according to a Reuters poll that also predicted a pickup in economic growth but with still relatively subdued inflation.

That would be one full year after the last rate increase, something most Fed policymakers and private forecasters had not expected.

The poll forecast two more rises next year, taking the federal funds rate to 1.00-1.25 percent at the end of 2017.

A move in 2016 has been delayed, first on a sharp fall in global markets and then after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

But the Fed’s continued eagerness to tighten monetary policy underscores both the relative strength of the world’s largest economy as well as how tough the central bank is finding such a move.

Its peers from Europe to Asia are easing policy. New Zealand on Thursday cut interest rates to record lows, joining Australia, to stave off deflation and stem the rise in its currency. [ECILT/EZ] [ECILT/GB]

Of the 95 economists surveyed over the past week, 69 expect the federal funds target rate to rise to 0.50-0.75 percent by the fourth quarter from 0.25-0.50 percent currently. One forecast rates at 0.75-1.00 by year-end.

With a subdued inflation outlook, however, a slim majority of economists said a Fed rate hike this year would serve more as a confidence boost rather than a measure to quell pressure from rising prices.

After a weaker-than-expected 1.2 percent annualized pace of expansion in the second quarter, the U.S. economy is expected to grow 2.5 percent this quarter and slightly more than 2 percent in each quarter until the end of 2017, the poll found.

But respondents expected the core personal consumption expenditure price index, the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, to average just 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter and stay below the central bank’s 2 percent target even at the end of 2017.

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Justin Lederer said he expected one interest-rate move, in December.

“The election is one of the reasons why they can’t go sooner,” he said. “We don’t think the Fed will want to disrupt the election.”

The Fed’s November policy meeting is only days before the election. Economists gave a median probability of 58 percent of a move the next month, in December, up 8 percentage points from a poll last month.

Financial markets, however, are placing only a little more than one-in-three chance of a hike at the Dec. 14 meeting, according to data on the CME Group website.

A majority of economists said the probability of a September hike had risen after a report last week showed 255,000 new jobs were created in July and wage growth picked up pace, although that was still not their central view.

Respondents gave just a 25 percent chance of a hike for September, with only a handful of economists calling for one then.

A few banks said there would be no increase at all this year.

(Polling and analysis by Vartika Sahu; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

Minority of Americans Believe The President Strongly Supports Israel

A new survey shows that a majority of Americans believe the President of the United States should be a “strong supporter” of the nation of Israel, but only a minority believe the current President is a supporter.

The poll by Quinnipiac University said that 2 in 3 Americans believe that the President should be strongly supportive of Israel.  Only 20 percent said that the President should not be a supporter of the country.

Only 48% believe that President Obama is a strong supporter, although that is up from 42% from the poll taken in 2010.  The poll of 1,353 eligible voters ran from April 16th to the 21st.

The poll showed that younger demographics were less likely to believe the President should be a supporter of Israel.  Those over 55 had a 77% response rate to support for Israel to only 57% of those 18-34.

The political parties also showed a difference, with 87% of Republicans believing the President should be a strong supporter while only 56% of Democrats shared that view.

The poll also queried the voters about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  The PM had a 38% favorable rating, 22% unfavorable and the remaining 37% said they did not know enough about him to make an opinion.  He was supported by 68% of Republicans in the poll and only 14% of Democrats.

The poll also showed that 62% do not believe the currently proposed deal with Iran over nuclear weapons would stop them from eventually developing a nuclear bomb.