For more than half of Americans, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign slogan to "make America great again" has real resonance. A recent PRRI survey found that 51 percent of Americans believe the country has been in decline since the middle of the 20th century.
“This election has become a referendum on competing visions of America’s future,” Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonpartisan polling center, wrote in a statement about the finding, notes The Huffington Post. “Donald Trump supporters are nostalgic for the 1950s, an era when white Christians in particular had more political and cultural power in the country, while [Democratic nominee] Hillary Clinton supporters are leaning into -- and even celebrating -- the big cultural transformations the country has experienced over the last few decades.”
“We argue over whether we’re divided by race, class, gender or religion,” E.J. Dionne, a syndicated columnist, said in an Oct. 25 panel discussion. “What’s really scary about this poll is that we are divided by all of the following: class, race, gender and religion. We are deeply divided by these things.”
The PRRI national survey asked participants, “Since the 1950s, do you think American culture and way of life has mostly changed for the better, or has it mostly changed for the worse?”
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The average response shows that 51 percent believe things have changed for the worse. When broken down along demographic categories, responses varied widely.
At one end of the spectrum, registered Democrats and unaffiliated respondents stated 66 percent to 34 percent that things have changed for the better. Hispanic Catholics were second in agreeing that things have gotten better, 65 percent to 34.
At the other end of the spectrum, white evangelical Protestants overwhelming responded that things have declined since the 1950s, with 74 percent saying things have “mostly changed for the worse.” Behind this group were Republicans, who said 68 percent to 31 percent that things have gotten worse.
If a simple majority of Americans find the country is heading in the wrong direction, this election will prove if Trump is the leader they believe can correct the nation’s course.