Americans say patriotism, religion, and having children are less important to them today than they did 20 years ago, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey.
The poll found that “strong majorities” of Americans 21-years-ago said the principles of hard work, patriotism, commitment to religion, and the goal of having children were the most important to them.
Today, hard work remains a top value, but patriotism, commitment to religion, and the goal of having children have fallen substantially — driven by people under 50-years-old the poll showed.
The biggest drop occurred on the value of having children — with 43% placing a high value on it, down 16 points from 1998. The second biggest drop occurred on religion, with only 50% citing it as important, down 12 points. Patriotism slipped to 61%, down nine points.
There was a huge variation by age, however. The poll showed that only 42% of those aged 18-38 said patriotism was very important, compared to nearly 80% among those 55 and older.
Fewer than one-third of those aged 18-35 said religion was very important, while two-thirds of those aged 55 and older said it was very important.
There was a large generational difference among Democrats — with older Democrats over age 50 more in line with younger Republicans than younger members of their own party.
“There’s an emerging America where issues like children, religion and patriotism are far less important. And in America, it’s the emerging generation that calls the shots about where the country is headed,” Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt, said.
A majority of Americans said they are “very or somewhat satisfied” with the economy, but two-thirds said they were not confident the next generation would be better off than the current one.
And large majorities of those polled rated “tolerance for others” as a very important personal value. More Democrat voters — 63% — said the country becoming more diverse and toleration of different lifestyles and cultures was a step forward, while only 16% of Republican voters said that was a step forward.
Fewer Democrats — 21% — said race relations were on good footing, while about half of Republicans said they were on good footing.
But overall, more adults today said that race relations are in a good state — 40% — than in mid-2016, when only 26% said they were in a good state.
However, when asked whether they have gotten better or worse under Trump, 56% said they have gotten worse, and 10% said they have gotten better.
Asked about the country becoming more diverse and tolerant of different lifestyles and cultures, 63% of people who said they would vote in a Democratic primary said that such moves have been a step forward.
By contrast, 16% of Republican primary voters said these changes had been a step forward for the country. Instead, nearly six in ten GOP primary voters said they saw a mixed bag of strides forward and steps back.
However, only 19 percent of African-Americans said race relations were “fairly or very good” — the lowest level in Journal/NBC News polling over more than two decades.
The Journal/NBC News poll surveyed 1,000 adults from Aug. 10-14, 2019, with a margin of error plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.