Polls on Patriotism and Military Service

In the lead up to the 4th of July, American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Senior Fellow and public opinion expert Karlyn Bowman and researcher Andrew Rugg release a comprehensive collection of data about patriotism gathered from surveys compiled by major U.S, pollsters. Polls on Patriotism and Military Service details the views Americans hold about our country, the actions Americans consider patriotic, and opinions on institutions such as the military.

Key findings include:

  • Overt displays of patriotism have lessened since September 11th. But patriotic sentiment is still strong. In a May 2011 CBS poll, 61 percent described themselves as extremely proud to be an American and 25 percent very proud. Only 1 percent said they were only a little or not at all proud.
  • What is considered patriotic? Voting (78 percent), saying the Pledge of Allegiance (70 percent), working hard at your job (62 percent), volunteering in your community (61 percent) and paying your fair share of taxes (61 percent) ranked at the top as very patriotic activities. Accepting what government officials say without questioning ranked last, with only 11 percent saying it was very patriotic [Greenberg/Quinlan/Rosner Research poll].
  • A substantial majority of Americans say serving in the military is a sign of patriotism.
  • The military is one of the most positively viewed institutions in the country. In Gallup's June 2011 survey, 78 percent had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the military. It was the highest ranked institution in the poll.
  • Although historical data on college students' patriotism are not available, a near majority of them (48 percent) in a poll taken soon after 9/11 described themselves as very patriotic and another 44 percent as somewhat patriotic. In October 2004, those responses were 39 and 49 percent, respectively.

Karlyn Bowman also writes about the evolution of American politics because of key demographic and geographic changes. She can be reached at [email protected] or 202.862.5910. Research assistant Andrew Rugg can be reached at [email protected] or 202.862.5917.

For additional help or other media inquiries, please contact Jesse Blumenthal at [email protected] or 202.862.4870.

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