Under the transfer of power to the Biden Administration in 2021, public opinion about the state of moral values in the U.S. has hit all-time lows and highs along party lines.
The overall national opinion of moral values in the U.S. has only worsened slightly this year, though according to a study from Gallup released on Wednesday, the number “masks significant changes in Democrats’ and Republicans’ perceptions of U.S. values between 2020 and 2021.”
“Democrats are much less negative about moral values today than they were a year ago. Conversely, Republicans’ views of U.S. moral values have sunk to record lows,” according to the study, which was based on a poll conducted between May 3 – 18, 2021.
Republicans’ opinion of moral values is lower than it has been in two decades, with 66 percent rating the country’s values as “poor,” according to the study. Overall, 92 percent say moral values are getting worse, which tops the 90 percent recorded in 2007.
Before a notable spike during Biden’s presidency, Republican opinion about the country’s moral compass was steadily worsening. In fact, there was “no comparable surge in concern following the transfer of presidential leadership from Republican to Democratic control in 2009, nor decrease when Trump replaced Barack Obama in 2017,” according to the study.
In stark contrast, Democrats are “exhibiting record-high optimism about the direction of moral values, with 46 percent saying they are improving,” the study reads, noting that 49 percent of Democrats — slightly under half — still say things are getting worse.
Democrats’ views of the nation’s moral values have varied less in the last 20 years than Republicans’ views have, “although the percentage of Democrats rating morals as excellent or good did slump during the Trump presidency after being relatively high during Obama’s last six years in office,” the study reported.
Gallup has been collecting data on the public’s opinion of moral values in the U.S. since 2002, which they noted has worsened overall since the start of their reporting:
Americans have long been dismayed by the state of moral values in the country. Less than a third of Democrats and even fewer Republicans have considered U.S. moral values excellent or good since 2002, and pessimism about the direction of morals outpaces optimism among both groups.
National perceptions on both aspects of U.S. values are fairly steady compared with a year ago. But partisan shifts suggest that the transfer of power in Washington has had a stronger than usual effect on how partisans perceive the country’s moral compass, with Democrats now the most optimistic they have been in two decades and Republicans the least.
President Biden has often used the word “unity” when expressing his goals for the United States, and he said in his inaugural speech that “we must end this uncivil war, that pits red against blue, rural vs. urban, conservative vs. liberal,” said. “We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.”
The results of Gallup’s study paint quite a different picture.