Americans' once-prevailing view that government should do what it can to promote traditional values in society has weakened in the past decade. Today 48% hold that view, while nearly as many, 46%, say government should not favor any particular set of values.The latest result is from Gallup's 2011 Governance survey, conducted Sept. 8-11. This is only the 4th time in 26 Gallup measurements of the question since 1993 that support for government's promoting of traditional values has fallen below 50%. All of these instances occurred in the past five years and came after a steady decline in public support since October 2001 for government's playing this role.
The recent decline in support for government advancement of traditional values in society comes primarily from Republicans. While Republicans remain more supportive of this policy position than are independents and Democrats, their support has dropped by more than 10 percentage points since 2008, from 71% to 59%. By contrast, Democrats' support for it has held steady at about 40%, while independents' has been more variable.
In most of Gallup's Governance surveys from 2001 through 2010, older generations of Americans were more likely than those in Generations X or Y to say they want government to sanction and protect traditional values. However, the percentage of young adults -- aged 18 to 34 -- who want government to promote traditional values has been steadily increasing in recent years, rising from 38% in 2008 to 53% today.
As a result -- and owing to declines in older adults' support for government's promoting traditional values -- young adults are now the most likely to favor it.