Three-quarters of Americans place themselves on Santa’s “Nice” list

Mark WhiteSenior Political Analyst
December 17, 2020, 1:00 PM UTC

This year has been hard for everyone, including Santa Claus. He’s been working diligently on his naughty-or-nice list—but he needs some help checking it twice. That’s why Santa has partnered with YouGov for a North Poll. 

YouGov asked Americans if they, their family, and their friends have been more naughty or nice this year to help Santa get a picture of what his workload is going to be like the next few weeks. And like many public figures, Santa is interested in how people feel toward him and the job he’s doing. YouGov also asked Americans how they view Santa and whether they approve of how he’s handling his job. 

Three-quarters responded that they’ve been nice, with only 13% say they are deserving of receiving a lump of coal from St. Nicholas. An additional 12% say they don’t know—they’re leaving that decision up to Santa himself.

People may not be the most trustworthy when reporting their own behavior, however. So, we asked the respondents to weigh in on the naughty-to-niceness of family and friends. Here, too, the results are overwhelmingly positive, though less enthusiastic when evaluating themselves: Over 60% say their loved ones belong on the nice list. As to the veracity of these claims, only Santa’s workshop numbers can be for certain.

Are Americans on Santa's naughty or nice list this year?

How popular is Santa Claus? 

While this year has taken its toll on the reputation of many public figures, Santa Claus himself is still beloved. Half (52%) have a very favorable view toward him, with an additional 29% feeling somewhat favorable. Although methodologies are different, this 81% means Santa is of comparable popularity to the most well-regarded people in YouGov Ratings, including actors like Betty White and Morgan Freeman

Santa Claus' favorability ratings

Santa’s job approval is similarly high, with a net score of +63. One in five (18%) aren’t sure, and only 10% disapprove of Santa’s handling the job of, well, being Santa.  

This is the reverse of how Americans tend to view their federal legislative body. The U.S. Congress has never enjoyed a positive job approval rating in the ten years YouGov has been tracking these numbers. As the Congress weighs another pandemic relief bill, perhaps a lesson to learn from Santa Claus is that Americans tend to approve of those who give to the people.

Santa Claus' job approval rating

See the toplines from this YouGov North Poll 

Methodology: These YouGov Direct Polls were conducted between December 11 - 13, 2020. Data were weighted according to age, gender, race, and education to be nationally representative. 

One poll conducted December 11 – 12, 2020 of 2,844 US Adults asked, “Looking back over the past year, do you think you have been more naughty or nice?” “Thinking about your family, do you think they have been more naughty or nice this year?” and “Thinking about your main friend group, do you think they have been more naughty or nice this year?” The margin of error is approximately 2.9% for the overall sample.  

The second poll, conducted December 12 – 13, 2020 of 2,993 US Adults asked, “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable view of Santa Claus?” and “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Santa Claus is handling his job?” The margin of error is approximately 2.8% for the overall sample. 

Image: Getty