Are We Patriotic? Most Say Yes!

July 03, 2013, 2:35 PM GMT+0

(Week of 6/29/2013) As the country celebrates its birth on Thursday, Americans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll say they are patriotic—although they aren’t sure about the rest of the country. More than eight in ten say they are personally at least somewhat patriotic (with 45% describing themselves as very patriotic). And the older you get the more patriotic you feel. 63% of those 65 and older say they are personally very patriotic, compared with just 21% of those under 30. Not only does age affect one’s perceived patriotism, but so does party. Just over a third of Democrats and independents say they are very patriotic; 67% of Republicans describe themselves that way.

Patriotism may have slipped from two years ago. In 2011, 50% described themselves as very patriotic.

What hasn’t changed is how people perceived patriotism in the country. Americans are more than three times as likely today to say that the country is becoming less patriotic than to think it is becoming more so. And the older you are, the more likely you are to think people are becoming less patriotic.

Neither political party comes out much ahead in a contest of patriotism. Asked which party is more patriotic, Americans mostly see no difference. 26% (mostly Republicans) say the Republican Party is more patriotic; 18% (mostly Democrats) say it’s the Democratic Party that is.

Americans define patriotism in many ways. Just about half say a person can be patriotic even if they refuse to serve in a war they believe to be unjust, disobey a law that they believe is immoral, or criticize U.S. leaders to foreigners. About a third disagrees in all three cases. But most think you can’t still be patriotic if you refuse to pay taxes — or burn an American flag.