Frank Newport at Gallup:
The Journal survey asks Americans to rate the importance of “patriotism.” Gallup doesn’t measure the importance of patriotism per se, but we do have a measure asking Americans how proud they are to be an American -- presumably measuring the same underlying concept. Additionally, the Journal question has four response options -- very important, somewhat important, not that important and not important at all, while the Gallup question has five response options -- extremely, very, moderately, only a little or not at all proud.
In our latest asking this year, 39% of Americans said they were extremely proud to be an American and 28% said very proud. The Journal’s polling in this year’s update found that 38% say patriotism is very important to them, with another 35% saying it is somewhat important.
There are differences in the trending over time on the two measures of patriotism. Gallup’s measure of those saying they are extremely proud to be an American shows a decline from 55% in 2001 to 45% in 2019, and then a modest decline to 39% this year. The combined top two categories in Gallup’s polling (that is, adding extremely and very proud together) show a leveling off over the past three years.
The Wall Street Journal trend shows a decline in the percentage choosing the top category (patriotism rated as very important) from 70% in 1998 to 61% in 2019 -- when both surveys were conducted by telephone -- but a very steep drop to 38% this year, when the survey was conducted by web. The combined top two categories (very and somewhat important) went from 93% in 1998 to 88% in 2019 to 73% this year.
Thus, while both studies show a decline over time using their respective measures of patriotism, Gallup does not see the very large decrease evident in the Journal data over the past four years. Again, how much of the Journal decline may be due to the change in the mode of interviewing is unknown. However, the consistency of Gallup telephone methods suggests that the observed leveling off since 2019 may be the more valid indicator of what is happening in the underlying population.