Conservatives Are More Than Twice as Likely as Liberals to Be Strongly Patriotic, Says Gallup Poll

By Terence P. Jeffrey | July 4, 2010 | 12:21 PM EDT

Tea Party activist Lawrence Crane secures a large U.S. flag while preparing for a Tea Party rally to be held at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, April 15, 2010. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

( - Conservatives are more than twice as likely as liberals to express very strong patriotism, according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll in which 48 percent of conservatives said they were “extremely patriotic,” but only 19 percent of liberals made that claim.

The poll asked respondents this question: “How patriotic are you? Would you say extremely patriotic, very patriotic, somewhat patriotic, or not especially patriotic?” The poll surveyed a random sample of 1,014 adults from June 11-13, and the margin of error was plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.

Overall, 72 percent of Americans said they were either extremely (32 percent) or very patriotic (42 percent), with another 19 percent saying they were somewhat patriotic. Only 6 percent said they were "not especially patriotic."
The USA Today news story on this poll question did not report any data at all about the patriotism of liberals as discovered by the survey, although it did report that patriotism has increased among Republicans and conservatives, stating: “The number of Republicans and conservatives who describe their patriotism as running high has increased 24 percentage points since 1999.”

The Gallup analysis of the poll question did list what percentage of liberals, conservatives and moderates, Republicans, Democrats and Independents, and people of various age groups described themselves as "extremely patriotic" in both 2005 and this year--thus providing a basis for comparing liberals with conservatives as well as with other groups.

Liberals were the least likely of all groups listed by Gallup to say they were "extremely" patriotic.

Neither the USA Today news story on the poll question nor the Gallup analysis explained why the poll used the term "extremely" to describe the most patriotic group given that the word "extreme" often carries a pejorative connotation, particularly in politics. The Gallup analysis did say, however: "The difference between 'extremely' and 'very' patriotic is left to respondents to interpret."

An alternative formulation might have asked people to distinguish between "strongly" and "very strongly" patriotic. It would have asked: "How patriotic are you? Would you say very strongly patriotic, strongly patriotic, somewhat patriotic, or not especially patriotic?”

The poll did not ask people if they considered themselves "extremely unpatriotic."
As reported by the Gallup analysis, 52 percent of Republicans in the 2010 survey--an outright majority--said they were "extremely patriotic" while only 20 percent of Democrats said they were "extremely patriotic."
According to historical polling numbers on the same question posted by Gallup, Americans have been more patriotic in the past decade than they were in the 1990s.
In 1994, 65 percent said they were either extremely (21 percent) or very patriotic (44 percent). In 2010, 74 percent say they are either extremely (32 percent) or very patriotic (42 percent).
The increase in patriotism started happening after al Qaeda terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. In a poll conducted June 25-27, 1999, 65 percent of Americans said they were either extremely (19 percent) or very patriotic (46 percent). But in a poll taken January 4-20, 2002, five months after the 9/11 attacks, 71 percent of Americans said they were either extremely (24 percent) or very patriotic (47 percent).
In the past five years, according to Gallup, the percentage of liberals, Democrats and moderates describing themselves as “extremely patriotic” has declined. By contrast, the percentage of Republicans, Independents, conservatives, men, women and people 18 years or older, who describe themselves as “extremely patriotic” has increased.Percentage of Americans Saying They Are Extremely Patriotic

                                   2005                2010                Change
Republicans               35%                 52%                 17 points
Conservatives            33                     48                    15
Aged 65+                    21                    40                    19
Men                             29                    37                    8
Aged 50-64                 29                    35                    6
Aged 30-49                 29                    32                    3
Independents              21                    30                    9
Women                        23                    28                    5                     
Moderates                   23                    22                    -1
Aged 18-29                 21                    22                    1
Democrats                   22                    20                    -2
Liberals                       23                    19                    -4