Patriotism Across Both Parties

As the country enjoyed the fireworks, barbecues, and parades last week, TPC took a deeper look at patriotism and its impact on politics (and vice versa).

Even during times when the majority of US citizens are dissatisfied with the way things are going in America, still over half the population surveyed say they are “very proud to be American citizens.” Although…is there a difference in patriotic behavior across political party?

TPC’s Big Data analysis would seem to indicate that there is a connection. Examining statistics across the national voter file, we see that of all the people with strong patriotic indications, 54% are Republican and 33% are Democrats.

This connection has also been observed by a number of other researchers. In a recent study conducted by Pew Research Center, 56% of Americans agree that the phrase, “often feel proud to be American” describes them well. There is however a significant difference between conservatives and liberals. Overall, 81% of Business Conservatives and 72% of Steadfast Conservatives say this phrase describes them well (for more on these typologies, click here). However, only 40% of Solid Liberals and 59% of Faith and Family Lefts describe themselves as “often proud to be American.” Individuals with more moderate political typology are mostly split (51-56%) on describing themselves this way. Other identifiers associated with patriotism, shown in the graph below, follow similar patterns across the political spectrum.


Individuals in a similar survey also conducted by Pew, were asked if they agree with the phrase, “I am very patriotic.” In response, 61% of Republicans completely agree with this statement while only 47% of independents and 45% of Democrats can say the same. These responses show a partisan gap of 16pts between Republicans and Democrats. With both phrases, “often feel proud to be American” and “I am very patriotic” again more Republicans than Democrats respond in agreement.

When outwardly displaying patriotism with an American flag, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to report this behavior. The survey mentioned above also discovered that 73% of Republicans say they display the flag in their home, office, or on their car; 63% of independents say the same and about half (55%) of Democrats.

A study from Harvard University found that celebrating the 4th of July in childhood and throughout life increases the likelihood that an individual will be Republican. Researchers determined that “there is a political congruence between patriotism or the patriotic symbols promoted on 4th of July and Republican beliefs.”

While recognizing that, individuals, whether Republican, Democrat or something else, show their personal patriotism in unique and measurable ways, it is not hard to see a connection between party and feelings and expressions of patriotism.

The unanswered question is whether one causes the other?

By Lauren Arnold


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