The long-held opinion of many Americans that the U.S. government should favor and promote traditional values in society seems to be shifting, as for the first time; a Gallup poll has found that a majority (52%) of those polled said the government should not favor any set of values.
While Gallup polls conducted from 1993 through 2004, showed a significant majority of Americans felt the government should promote traditional values, that majority has steadily eroded, hitting the 50% mark in 2005. The latest Gallup poll, conducted from Sept. 6-9, 2012, showed that only 44% believe the government should promote traditional values.
In 1996 and 2001, after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the percentage of Americans favoring the government's promotion of traditional values reached a high of 59%.
Writing in Gallup Politics, Jeffrey M. Jones suggests the decline in the public's support for government promotion of traditions values "may have been prompted in part by the unpopularity of the Bush administration and Republican Congress, but has continued as Americans have become more permissive in their attitudes on certain social issues such as gay rights and marijuana use."
Indeed, another Gallup poll conducted between June 1-Sept. 30, 2012, showed that out of 121,290 people interviewed, 4,124 (3.4%) answered "yes" when asked if they identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT).
Poll Reflects Traditional Politics
In keeping with the party's long-held tradition of social conservatism, Republicans told Gallup they favored continued government promotion of traditional values by a margin on 65% to 32%. Democrats, by an even wider margin of 67% to 29%, said the government should remain neutral on social values. Independents favored social neutrality by 54% to 41%.
Interestingly, the largest shift away from a preference for government promotion of traditional values has come among Republicans. In 2004, 79% of Republicans supported that view, compared to 65% today, a drop of 14 percentage points.
In its analysis of the poll, Gallup suggests that the results indicate the Untied States may be heading toward a period of libertarianism, in which the government takes a less active role in the daily lives of Americans.