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Friday, July 5, 2013

Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Politicians

Americans love democracy and dislike politics. Gallup reports:
By a 2-to-1 margin, 64% to 31%, Americans would not like their child to go into politics as a career. The results are the same whether the question is asked about a "child," a "son," or a "daughter." There has been little change in the percentage of Americans who would favor a political career for their son or daughter over the past two decades.
The results are based on a June 20-24 Gallup poll, and find generally little change in the desirability of politics as a profession even as trust in government and confidence in political institutions, particularly Congress, are low.
The largest demographic differences among major subgroups are by race, with nonwhites much more likely than whites to say they would like to see their son or daughter go into politics. This is not a reaction to the fact that the current president is black, as Gallup has found that same racial difference when the question was asked in the 1990s when George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were president.

The racial differences may be behind the slight tendency for Democrats to favor a political career for their sons and daughters more than Republicans do, with a larger party difference for daughters. There are also small, but not necessarily meaningful, differences by gender and being a parent of a young child.
Gallup first asked about both sons and daughters going into politics in 1993, but has asked the question about sons as far back as late 1944 into early 1945. The historical trend suggests that Americans are no more negatively disposed to a political career now for their son than they were in the past. The high point in favoring a political career for a son was 36% in 1965, at a time when Americans were still rallying around President Johnson after he took office following the death of John F. Kennedy.

In fact, 1965 was the only time when more than 30% of Americans said they wanted their son to go into politics, taking into account the order affects in recent updates by only using the format when son was asked first. That includes 21% in a poll conducted in late 1944 into early 1945, as the U.S. was fighting in World War II.
In 2009, the Tiller Social Action Survey found:
Obama’s Efforts Notwithstanding, Most Believe Politicians Fall Short on Good Works Front:
• 75% Aware of Obama’s Call for Volunteerism; 65% See A Political Motivation
• 83% Believe Average Citizens Care More About the Country than Politicians
• 8 in 10 Say Political Discourse Obscures What’s Good for the Country
• Only 16% Think Politicians Set a Good Example When it Comes to Public Service