GALLUP NEWS SERVICE
PRINCETON, NJ -- On the eve of Independence Day, most Americans claim a strong sense of patriotism toward the United States. They also do fairly well answering questions about the historical facts surrounding the holiday. At the same time, they express significant doubts that the signers of America's Declaration of Independence would agree with the way in which the Constitution is being followed today, and half feel the Founding Fathers would be disappointed with the way the country has turned out.
In response to the new poll, conducted June 25-27, 65% of Americans indicate they are "extremely" or "very" patriotic, while 28% say they are "somewhat" patriotic, with 5% "not especially" patriotic. While expressed patriotism seems high, it appears that neither the military events surrounding U.S. involvement in Kosovo, nor the strong U.S. economy has triggered newfound pride in the country. The current results are nearly identical to those found in 1994.
When Americans are asked how the signers of the Declaration of Independence would react to the way the U.S. has turned out, 55% feel the signers would be disappointed while only 44% say they would be pleased. Two-thirds of Americans, 67%, think the signers would disagree with the way in which the Constitution is being followed in the U.S. today, compared to just 31% who feel they would agree.
Patriotism Less Prevalent Among Nonwhites and Young
Levels of self-reported patriotism vary significantly according to certain demographic categories. The most notable differences are by race: 69% of whites claim to be extremely or very patriotic, as opposed to just 40% of nonwhites. Age is also a factor, with "Generation X" members lagging behind their elders in patriotism. Only 40% of those aged 18-29 claim a strong sense of patriotism, compared to 65% of those aged 30-49 and 77% of those 50 and older.
There is also a substantial patriotism "gap" between those who identify with the two major political parties, with 79% of Republicans saying they are extremely or very patriotic, compared with 63% of independents and 56% of Democrats.
Most Americans Understand Significance of July
Regardless of the level of patriotism they feel, a majority of Americans can identify what the Fourth of July is all about. When Americans are asked what specific historical event is celebrated on July 4th, 55% say it is the signing of the Declaration of Independence, while another 32% give a more general answer, saying that July 4th celebrates Independence Day. And when they are asked to identify the country from which America gained its independence, 76% of Americans correctly name Great Britain. A handful of Americans, 2%, think America's freedom was won from France, 3% mention some other country (including Russia, China, and Mexico, among others named), while 19% are unsure.
The results below are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,016 adults, 18 years and older, conducted June 25-27, 1999. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
How patriotic are you? Would you say -- extremely patriotic, very patriotic, somewhat patriotic, or not especially patriotic?
|Jun 17-19, 1994||Jun 25-27, 1999|
|Not especially patriotic||7||5|
As far as you know, what specific historical event is celebrated on July 4th?
|Signing of the Declaration of Independence/day it was signed||55%|
|Birth of United States||1|
As far as you know, from what country did America gain its independence following the Revolutionary War?
|England/Great Britain/United Kingdom||76%|
If the signers of the Declaration of Independence were alive today, do you think they would generally agree or disagree with the way in which the Constitution is being followed in the United States today?
Overall, do you think the signers of the Declaration of Independence would be pleased or disappointed by the way the United States has turned out?