Rule of Law

New Poll Reveals Patriotism Gap

A poll released today reveals liberals and conservatives hold extremely divergent views about patriotism and America.

According to the poll, nearly one-in-five liberals say they would prefer to live in another country.

And only about one-in-three liberals say it is “completely accurate” to say they are proud to be Americans.

The poll probed a wide range of other views, collecting further data that illustrated a wildly divergent attitude about America between conservatives and liberals.

For example, only 31% of Americans rated Colin Kaepernick “very” or “somewhat” patriotic. But 38% percent of liberals rated Kaepernick “very” patriotic, while only 7% of conservatives did the same.

Divergent assessments of patriotism between conservatives and liberals also extended to perceptions of institutions or corporations:

For instance, born again Christians were much more likely than other people to characterize the NRA, Chick-fil-A, and Hobby Lobby as “very patriotic.” People of non-Christian faiths were more likely than born again Christians to argue that CNN, Planned Parenthood, the NFL are very patriotic. Skeptics, who reside at the opposite end of the spiritual continuum from the born again constituency, were the group least likely to label any of the organizations as very patriotic — and, of course, they themselves were lowest on the patriotism assessment scale.

The institutions that blacks found to be the most patriotic were the Democratic Party and CNN, with 36% and 38% saying these institutions were “very patriotic,” respectively. Whites most frequently viewed the the National Rifle Association and the Supreme Court to be the most patriotic institutions, at 36% and 29% respectively. Hispanics aligned with whites, also responding that the NRA and Supreme Court were “very patriotic” at the highest rates.

Only 13% of whites viewed the National Football League as “very patriotic.”

Conservatives and liberals didn’t even share the same definition of what patriotism means. Conservatives were at least ten percentage points more likely to consider the following ideals to describe patriotic activity or thought:

  • Believe American comes first (+35 points).
  • America’s enemies are your enemies (+25 points).
  • Defending the Constitution and living by those rules (+24).
  • Willing to join the military if called upon to defend the nation (+24).
  • Feel proud to be an American (+17).
  • Believe in and obey the Constitution (+13).

Seventy-six percent of respondents agreed strongly or somewhat that “the United States is less united now than at any prior time during your lifetime.” Only 17% disagreed.

By 54% to 39%, respondents agreed with this statement: “[T]hings are so divided these days that it is no longer possible to bring the nation together.”

A rare area of agreement revealed by the poll was that both liberals (53%) and conservatives (60%) strongly agreed with the statement that “basic freedoms are under attack in America.” A minority of moderates (45%) strongly agreed.

None of these results are good news.

Fear, division, and — perhaps most dangerous of all — simply seeing the world in radically different ways can be the precursors of something awful. Commonality of culture, commonality of experience, and love of nation and the Constitution are the ties that bind. Lincoln’s poetic first inaugural occurred in time of boiling division. He challenged Americans:

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work.

The survey was conducted by the American Culture and Faith Institute and Earth to Ground Listening Project in October and November 2017, and surveyed 1,000 adults. The full poll can be obtained here.