Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Pell Center poll shows most American support traditional democratic values

Good news: Most Americans are NOT Christian nationalists

By Nancy Lavin, Rhode Island Current

There’s a glimmer of hope in what seems like an increasingly divisive national political atmosphere: Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they value the nation’s founding principles of equality and pursuit of happiness, according to a new survey out of Salve Regina University’s The Pell Center.

The results published through Pell Center’s democracy-focused research project, Nationhood Lab, are part of a larger initiative launched in March that aims to better understand the historic and evolving sense of American nationalism beginning with the Declaration of Independence. 

More than 1,500 voters nationwide interviewed from March 28 to April 2 were asked about their views on founding democratic values, along with their demographic details such as gender, political affiliation, race, religion, and age.

Among the most surprising findings: Twice as many survey takers favor a national narrative rooted in civic ideals of equality rather than one based in their ancestral or religious identity.

“I was not at all sure that would be the case,” Colin Woodard, founder and director of Nationhood Lab, said in a statement. “Americans have increasingly been asking what still holds us together. I’ve long been convinced that shared commitment to those ideals in our opening statement as a people and to upholding them for each other has always been the best version of ourselves and likely our only way forward. That most Americans prefer it over its most potent rival is very good news.”

More than half of respondents also agreed that they are “duty-bound to defend one another’s inherent rights” and have a shared commitment “to building a more free, just, and equal nation.” 

In contrast, just over one-third said their sense of duty was based on defending culture and interest, with a corresponding commitment to “building a more free, prosperous, and secure nation.”

Republicans and voters who supported Donald Trump in the 2020 election were less likely to favor the democratic values outlined in the Declaration of Independence, instead choosing a “more restrictive narrative emphasizing tradition, loyalty and intrinsic characteristic” compared with self-identified Democrats and independent voters, the survey found.

Enthusiasm for foundational civic ideals was strongest among young and middle-aged voters, with more than half of survey takers ages 25 to 49 expressing support. Among older survey participants, interest in the same principles was weaker, supported by 17% of those 65 and older.

Full results of the project are expected to be unveiled in June, providing an informational backdrop ahead of the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which will be celebrated on July 4, 2026.

The survey was conducted by Embold Research on behalf of Nationhood Lab and has a 3% margin of error.



Rhode Island Current is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Rhode Island Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Janine L. Weisman for questions: Follow Rhode Island Current on Facebook and Twitter.