Tags: Polls | Pew Research | poll | Americans | corruption | exceptionalism

Pew Poll: Americans Believe US Standing in the World is Falling

By Andrea Billups   |   Thursday, 03 Jul 2014 11:18 AM

On the eve of our nation's Fourth of July celebration, our patriotic belief in our national superiority — our exceptionalism in the world — is waning.

Worse still, more than three-fourths of Americans believe that corruption in their government is widespread, a figure that charts the impact of the last few years of administrative scandals that have combined to taint public opinion against Washington.

A study released by the Pew Research Center found that 58 percent of Americans describe the United States as "one of the greatest countries." Just 28 percent say we "stand above all other countries in the world," a benchmark that has dropped 10 percentage points since the last time the poll was taken in 2011, The Washington Post reported.

More so, the biggest drop in national opinion comes from Republicans. Just 37 percent said the United States leads the world, a dive of 15 points over just three years ago when 52 percent of GOP voters put us on top. By turn, independents and Democrats have dropped 7 and 8 points respectively, in a survey taken Feb. 27-March 16 of this year.

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Younger Americans register a less positive opinion of their country's strengths in the world than their older counterparts, Pew found, noting that just 15 percent of 18- to 29-year-old Americans believe the United States is "the greatest country in the world, a 27 percent dip since 2011.

The Pew poll shows a stark contrast to a similar survey taken by Gallup in 2006, which found that Americans registered as among the most satisfied with their country in the world in terms of freedom to do what they want with their lives, the Post reported.

Today, according to a similar Gallup study released on July 1, such positive feelings have nosedived as the United States ranks 36th among 120 nations in satisfaction — 72 percent say they are satisfied — dipping below such places as Cambodia (93 percent), Uzbekistan (92 percent), and top ranker New Zealand at 94 percent.

"The decline in perceived freedom among Americans could be attributed to the U.S. economy. Many Americans continue to lack confidence in the economy and see it as one of the biggest problems facing the country," Gallup noted in releasing its findings. "On the other hand, there are signs that Americans' attitudes toward the economy are improving.

"Compared with the days after the economic recession, Americans are feeling better about the national economy, spending habits in the U.S. have nearly recovered, and U.S. self-reported job creation has rebounded, if not improved. Although unclear, the decline in perceived freedom could be more than just economics."

Gallup added of the skid: "Another possible explanation for the decline in freedom is how Americans feel about their government. Gallup asks an additional question worldwide about whether people believe corruption is widespread throughout their government. This item is related to perceptions of freedom at the national level."

About 79 percent of Americans now believe government corruption is widespread, up from 59 percent in 2006, Gallup noted.

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