Patriotism, Religion, Having Children: Polls Finds American Values Are Changing

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A new poll has found that American values have changed dramatically in the past two decades. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)
A new poll has found that American values have changed dramatically in the past two decades. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

With Kimberly Atkins

Patriotism. Religion. Having children. American values are changing, reports a new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll. We explore national character in 2019.


Jeff Horwitt, Democratic pollster and senior vice president at Hart Research Associates.

Bill McInturff, Republican pollster. Partner, co-founder and managing partner of Public Opinion Strategies. (@pollsterguy)

Theodore Johnson, senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice. (@DrTedJ)

From The Reading List

NBC News: " 'A deep and boiling anger': NBC/WSJ poll finds a pessimistic America despite current economic satisfaction" — "The political and cultural upheaval of the last four years has divided the country on ever-hardening partisan and generational lines, but one feeling unites Americans as much as it did before the 2016 election.

"They’re still angry. And still unsettled about the future.

"The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that — despite Americans’ overall satisfaction with the state of the U.S. economy and their own personal finances — a majority say they are angry at the nation’s political and financial establishment, anxious about its economic future, and pessimistic about the country they’re leaving for the next generation.

" 'Four years ago, we uncovered a deep and boiling anger across the country engulfing our political system,' said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates, which conducted this survey in partnership with the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies. 'Four years later, with a very different political leader in place, that anger remains at the same level.'

"The poll finds that 70 percent of Americans say they feel angry 'because our political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power, like those on Wall Street or in Washington.' Forty-three percent say that statement describes them 'very well.' "

Wall Street Journal: "Americans Have Shifted Dramatically on What Values Matter Most" — "The values that Americans say define the national character are changing, as younger generations rate patriotism, religion and having children as less important to them than did young people two decades ago, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey finds.

"The poll is the latest sign of difficulties the 2020 presidential candidates will likely face in crafting a unifying message for a country divided over personal principles and views of an increasingly diverse society.

"When the Journal/NBC News survey asked Americans 21 years ago to say which values were most important to them, strong majorities picked the principles of hard work, patriotism, commitment to religion and the goal of having children.

"Today, hard work remains atop the list, but the shares of Americans listing the other three values have fallen substantially, driven by changing priorities of people under age 50.

"Some 61% in the new survey cited patriotism as very important to them, down 9 percentage points from 1998, while 50% cited religion, down 12 points. Some 43% placed a high value on having children, down 16 points from 1998."

Adam Waller produced this hour for broadcast.

This program aired on August 28, 2019.



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