Americans divided on impact of religion

Most Republicans and right-leaning independents believe colleges and universities have a negative effect on how things are going in the country, a new Pew Research Center survey found.

The poll also found mostly positive views of churches and religious organizations among both Democrats and Republicans.

A majority of Republicans in a new survey think colleges and universities have a negative effect on the U.S.

In contrast, a large majority of Democrats, 72 percent, say colleges and universities have a positive effect on the country.

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The poll also showed wide partisan gaps in views of other institutions.

Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents nearly spilt even on their opinion of the media with 44% saying they believe the news media has a positive effect on the way things are going in the country, while 46% believe it has a negative effect.

While Republicans' views of the media are virtually unchanged since a year ago, Democrats have warmed up to the media over the same time period. But 44 percent see it as having a positive impact on the country, up from just 33 percent a year ago (46 percent say the news media negatively impacts the country).

Do churches and other religious organizations have a positive impact on the way things are going in the United States? That fell to 43 percent in 2016.

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Since 2015, positive views of higher education among Republicans have dropped 18 percent.

Democrats, however, continue to have a much more positive view of labor unions (59 percent) than Republicans. The error attributable to sampling that would be expected at the 95 percent level of confidence is at +/- 2.3 percentage points.

The findings mark a shift dramatic shift in Republicans' views of higher education, according to Pew. Just 31 percent of those who earn at least $75,000 a year in family income view colleges positively, compared to 34 percent in the $30,000 to $74,999 range. "Are these attitudes more an expression of backlash against rising cost of college and student debt load, and the accompanying belief that colleges are businesses that care more about their bottom line than students (as we've found in our research), or is this about the rise of an emboldened anti-intellectualism in the wake of the last presidential election?"

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