Republicans have an increasingly dim view of colleges and universities and the effect those institutions have on the way things are going in the United States, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Monday.
A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents — 58 percent — say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, according to the survey of 2504 adults across the country that Pew researchers conducted in June.
The survey shows a dramatic shift in Republicans’ view of colleges and universities over the last few years.
In September 2015, 54 percent of Republicans said those institutions had a positive impact on the way things were going in the country, and only 37 percent said they had a negative effect.
Conservative Republicans are more likely to have a negative view of institutions of higher education than moderate Republicans. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of conservative Republicans say colleges and universities are taking the country in the wrong direction, while only 43 percent of moderate and liberal Republicans think the institutions have a negative effect on the country.
Younger Republicans still have more positive views of colleges than older Republicans, but the share of those under 50 who view colleges positively has fallen 21 points (from 65 percent to 44 percent) since 2015.
Even Republicans with college degrees or more education are increasingly disapproving of colleges and universities. Forty-four percent of these Republicans view the institutions negatively today, down from 65 percent in 2015.
Republicans whose family’s income is less than $30,000 have a more positive view of colleges than other groups of party-members. Forty-six percent of survey respondents in this income group said the institutions had a positive effect on the country
Democrats, meanwhile, have a much more positive and consistent view of colleges and universities, even across education levels and incomes, according to the survey.
Seventy-two percent of Democrats think colleges and universities are helping to steer the country in the right direction.
In the same survey, Pew researchers also looked at how Democrats and Republicans view other national institutions, including the news media, churches and religious organizations, labor unions, and banks.
The survey found that the partisan gap over the news media’s impact on the country has grown over the past year.
While Republicans’ views of the media are virtually unchanged since last year, Democrats have warmed up to the media over the same time period.
Last year, only 33 percent of Democrats said the national news media had a positive effect on the way things are going in the country. Now, 44 percent believe the media has a positive effect.
The vast majority of Republicans and Republican-leaners, 85 percent, say the media has a negative effect on the country.
The survey also found that, for the first time since 2010, Republicans views on the impact of banks have been more positive than negative. Forty-six percent of Republicans say banks and financial institutions are having a positive effect on the country.
Republicans also have a more positive view of labor unions today, according to the survey, with 46 percent of Republicans responding that labor unions have a positive impact on the country, up six points since 2016.
Democrats, however, continue to have a much more positive view of labor unions (59 percent) than Republicans.
One institution that has been virtually unaffected by the political turmoil of the last year, according to the survey, is church.
Across all political affiliations, only 26 percent of people believe that churches have a negative effect on the country.
73 percent of Republicans say churches and religious organizations have a positive effect compared with 50 percent of Democrats.
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