New polling data indicates that the level of patriotism among Americans has dropped to a new low since 2001. A distinct lack of enthusiasm among Millennials has indicated that the trend may only get worse in coming years.
On July 1, new survey results conducted by Gallup found that only 52 percent of Americans describe themselves to be “extremely proud” to come from the U.S. The data arrives just in time for the July 4 celebration of Independence Day.
Compared to previous Gallup polls stretching back 15 years, Americans’ patriotism has dipped considerably from its peak in 2004, when 70 percent described themselves as “extremely proud,” to just slightly below the 2001 level, when the number was at 55 percent.
The spike in American patriotism during those years has largely been attributed to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack against the Twin Towers, which united the country in an extended period of grieving.
The level of patriotism began to steadily decline in 2005 and throughout President Barack Obama’s two terms in office, which were kicked off by a calamitous economic recession in 2008.
The amount of Americans who are “extremely proud” of their nation has declined by 2 percentage points in the past year. This is quite possibly due to a highly contentious election year spearheaded by two presidential nominees with high unfavorable ratings, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump.
This is not to say that there is an overwhelming amount of Americans who are not proud of their country -- 29 percent of respondents said that they were “very proud” while 13 percent were “moderately proud.”
Only 6 percent of respondents were either “only a little proud” or “not at all proud” of being an American.
The survey data found that self-identifying Republicans are more likely to be patriotic than Democrats, while Independents tend to be the least patriotic political persuasion. Americans aged 50-64 remain the most patriotic age group, and by a substantial margin.
The most notable difference between today's level of patriotism, when compared to 15 years ago, is that Americans aged 18-29 in 2016 are much less likely to be extremely proud of their country than their 2001 counterparts.
Only 34 percent of today’s Millennials said that they were extremely proud to be American, compared to 51 percent of the same age bracket in 2001. This suggests that patriotism has dampened in the new generation of Americans, which could weigh down the national average in polls to come.
Meanwhile, the data-driven Wallethub has ranked the patriotism of all 50 states based on metrics of military and civic engagement.
The study found that the three most patriotic states are Virginia, Alaska, and South Carolina, while the three least patriotic states are New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York. They found that the average ranking of states designated as Republican was 22.46 while the average for states designated as Democratic was 28.31.
Obama, during a July 1 interview with NPR, observed that Americans have become more pessimistic about institutions in the past decade but expressed optimism that the national mood would improve.
“If you look at American history, there have been times where we’ve taken some tough turns, primarily fed by fear and disruptions and dislocations, but with a very substantial exception of the Civil War … the democratic process muddled through and we emerged better and stronger than we were before,” Obama said.