American Values Survey Print

Survey | 2011 American Values Survey

[11.08.2011]

Executive Summary

Read the full report here.
Read the News Release here.
Read the Topline Questionnaire, including the methodology here.
Download the report from the Amazon Kindle store here.
Download the report from the Barnes & Noble Nook store here.

Two-thirds of voters say that it is very important (39%) or somewhat important (28%) for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs. However, roughly 1-in-5 (19%) voters say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who had strong religious beliefs if those beliefs were very different from their own.

PRRI Economic and Social Inequality e1320699207406 Survey | 2011 American Values Survey
A majority of voters (53%) report that they would be somewhat or very comfortable with a Mormon serving as President, although more than 4-in-10 (42%) say that a Mormon president would make them somewhat or very uncomfortable.

  • Significantly more Democratic voters (50%) report feeling at least somewhat uncomfortable with a Mormon serving as president than Republican voters (36%) or Independent voters (38%).
  • Millennial voters (age 18-29) are less comfortable than senior voters (age 65 and over) with a Mormon serving as president. A majority (54%) of Millennial voters say they would be at least somewhat uncomfortable with a Mormon serving as president, compared to less than 4-in-10 (39%) of senior voters.
  • A List Experiment included in the survey confirms that, with the exception of white mainline Protestants, voters reliably report their feelings of discomfort with a Mormon candidate.

A significant number of Americans see the Mormon faith as different from their own.

  • Thirty-six percent of registered voters do not believe the Mormon faith is a Christian religion, compared to half of registered voters who say that the Mormon faith is a Christian religion; 14% say they are not sure.
    • Nearly half (49%) of white evangelical Protestant voters do not believe that the Mormon faith is a Christian religion.
  • Approximately two-thirds (66%) of voters say that the religious beliefs of Mormons are somewhat or very different from their own.

Because few Americans currently know Romney is Mormon attitudes about Romney’s faith may not have fully impacted his candidacy.

  • Only about 4-in-10 (42%) Americans can correctly identify Mitt Romney’s religion as Mormon.
  • Among voters who believe that Mormons have religious beliefs that are somewhat or very similar to their own and are familiar with Romney, nearly two-thirds (66%) have a favorable view of him. In contrast, among voters who believe that Mormons have religious beliefs that are somewhat or very different from their own, less than half (47%) report having a favorable opinion of Romney.

Currently, among Republican voters who know enough about the candidate to register an opinion, Cain leads Romney in favorability (73% and 66% respectively), with Perry trailing at 53%.

  • Between late September and late October, Romney’s favorability dropped 10 points among Republican voters, while Perry’s favorability dropped 18 points.
  • Among white evangelical Protestant voters, Romney’s favorability dropped 14 points, while Perry’s favorability remained steady. Cain currently has the highest favorability rating (70%) among white evangelical Protestant voters.

Americans’ feelings about the Obama presidency are decidedly mixed.

  • Overall, approximately equal numbers of Americans report that they are excited (5%) or satisfied (28%) as report feeling worried (26%), or angry (10%). Nearly 3-in-10 (29%), however, report feeling disappointed.
  • Americans are almost equally divided in their views about how Obama is doing as President: 45% approve and 44% disapprove.
  • A majority (54%) of white Americans disapprove of how Obama is handling his job as president. In contrast, 55% of Hispanic Americans and fully 88% of African Americans approve of how Obama is handling his job as president.
  • Although Americans are divided over his job as president, a majority (53%) of Americans say they have a favorable view of Obama personally.

When asked to voice the reasons for their disapproval of Obama’s job performance in their own words, Americans most frequently cite leadership qualities (41%) and his handling of economic issues (37%). Only about 1-in-10 (11%) mention personal qualities of the President or some other reason (9%), a category that includes foreign policy and immigration.

More Americans believe that President Obama, rather than Republican leaders in Congress, has a better idea about how to create jobs (44% and 35% respectively).

There are large divisions in American society on the issue of equal opportunity. A majority (53%) of Americans believe that one of the biggest problems in the country is that everyone does not have an equal chance in life. Four-in-ten Americans say that it is not really that big a problem if some people have more of a chance than others.

  • Seven-in-ten Democrats believe that one of the biggest problems in the country is that everyone does not have an equal chance in life, while less than 4-in-10 Republicans (38%) and Tea Party members (37%) agree. The views of Independents closely track with the general public.
  • White evangelical Protestants and white mainline Protestants are evenly divided, but a majority of Catholics (54%), the religiously unaffiliated (52%), and non-Christian affiliated Americans (54%), and fully 82% of black Protestants believe that one of the biggest problems in the country is that not everyone has an equal chance in life.

A strong majority (60%) of Americans agree that the country would be better off if the distribution of wealth was more equal, while 39% disagree.

  • Strong majorities of Democrats (78%) and Independents (60%) agree that the country would be better off if the wealth was more evenly divided. In stark contrast, more than 6-in-10 (63%) Republicans and Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement (62%) disagree.
  • Majorities of every major religious group and religiously unaffiliated Americans agree that the country would be better off if the distribution of wealth was more equal.
  • Nearly 7-in-10 (69%) Millennials agree that the U.S. would be better off if there was a more equal distribution of wealth. Among seniors, less than half (46%) agree.

Seven-in-ten (70%) Americans favor “the Buffett rule,” a proposal to increase the tax rate on Americans earning more than $1 million per year, compared to only 27% who oppose it.

  • While solid majorities of Democrats (85%) and Independents (70%) support increasing the tax rate on Americans earning more than $1 million a year, just over half of Republicans (52%) and only 4-in-10 Tea Party members favor it.
  • Less than half (43%) of Americans who most trust Fox News favor increasing the tax rate for Americans making more than $1 million a year (55% oppose it). In contrast, approximately 8-in-10 Americans who most trust any other media outlet favor such an increase (82% for broadcast news, 76% for CNN, 81% for MSNBC, and 84% for public television).

Overall, two-thirds (67%) of Americans favor increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.00 an hour.

  • Majorities of nearly every demographic group—with the exception of the Tea Party members (41%) and those who most trust Fox News (43%)—support an increase in the minimum wage.
  • Support for raising the minimum wage has remained stable since 2010.

The general public has mixed views about what effect the health care reform law passed last year will have on most Americans.

  • Significantly more Americans believe that it will result in more people having health insurance (37%) than believe that it will result in fewer people having coverage (24%). Roughly one-third (34%) say it will have no impact on the number of people covered by health insurance.
  • However, Americans are also more likely to believe that it will make health insurance less affordable (39%) than more affordable (25%). Three-in-ten say the law will not have any effect on the cost of health care.

Read the full report here.
Read the News Release here.
Read the Topline Questionnaire, including the methodology here.