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Gallup Sees 'Momentous Shifts in Public Opinion' in 2022

AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

As 2022 draws to a close, the pollsters at Gallup took a look back at how Americans responded to its surveys during the year and found that the past year was one with "momentous shifts in public opinion," many of them being new lows that paint a malaise-swept country as we head into 2023. 

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Just before Independence Day, Gallup's survey of patriotism saw the number of citizens who say they are "extremely proud" to be American come in at just 38 percent, the lowest ever recorded by Gallup since it started tracking Americans' pride in their country in 2001. As Gallup explained, the drop in patriotism recorded in 2022 took place across the political spectrum:

Republicans' pride in being American has consistently outpaced Democrats' and independents' since 2001 and does so today. However, Republicans' extreme national pride (58%) is now at its lowest point in the trend. Independents' extreme pride, at 34%, is likewise the lowest on record for the group.

After hitting a 22% low point in 2019, Democrats' extreme pride rose to 31% in 2021 at the start of Joe Biden's presidency, but it is down this year to 26%.

All three major party groups show double-digit declines in pride compared with 2013, with Democrats' 30-point decline the largest. The current 32-point gap in Democratic versus Republican pride is larger than the historical average though smaller than the record-high 54-point gap in 2019.

In addition to sinking patriotism, Americans' confidence in our country's institutions also dove in 2022. Gallup noted "significant declines" from 2021 in 11 of the 16 institutions they asked Americans about. 

While small business had the highest confidence with 68 percent, Congress bottomed out at a new low of just seven percent. The military had 64 percent confidence while all other institutions had the confidence of fewer than 50 percent of Americans. 

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New lows were reached for the Supreme Court (25 percent) and presidency (23 percent), while organized religion was at 31 percent, newspapers had 16 percent, and both America's criminal justice system and big business saw 14 percent confidence. 

Taken as an average by Gallup, these institutions hit a record low of 27 percent confidence — some three points lower than the previous all-time low.

The lack of patriotism and confidence in the country paralleled decreasing optimism that the next generation will have better lives than their parents. In fact, 2022 tied the record-low number of Americans who believe that the next generation will be better off — just 42 percent. Gallup noted that 2022's survey was "an 18-percentage-point drop since June 2019 and is statistically tied with the previous low in 2011."

"Americans' overall sour mood about the economy and the direction of the country is also borne out in their low optimism about the next generation's prospects of having a better life than their parents," Gallup noted. "Republicans, in particular, have become sharply more pessimistic since 2019."

Gallup's survey of Americans' belief in God also showed a downward slide in 2022, also to its lowest level on record, landing at 81 percent. If that number seems high enough, Gallup's trend shows that it used to be more than 90 percent from 1944 through 2011. In the 1950s and 1960s, the number of Americans who said they believe in God peaked at 98 percent. 

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The decrease seen in 2022 was led, according to Gallup, by younger and liberal Americans:

Belief in God has fallen the most in recent years among young adults and people on the left of the political spectrum (liberals and Democrats). These groups show drops of 10 or more percentage points comparing the 2022 figures to an average of the 2013-2017 polls.

Meanwhile, 17 percent of Americans said they do not believe in God according to Gallup's 2022 survey.

As Americans say goodbye to 2022, Gallup noted that this "hasn’t been a year full of news to particularly celebrate," but said "2023 promises to be a year full of turning points in public opinion." Here's to hoping some of those turning points will be back in an upward trajectory.

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