Gallup: 'Recent Surge' of Young Adults Want Gov’t to ‘Promote Traditional Values’

By | October 6, 2011 | 5:30pm EDT

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

( - While a Lexis-Nexis search indicates that U.S. newspapers and wire services included in that database published 291 stories yesterday and today citing the vaguely defined, left-wing Occupy Wall Street movement, not one of them mentioned a Gallup poll quietly released yesterday that documented a trend Gallup itself cannot explain: a “recent surge” in the percentage of young adults who say government should “promote traditional values.”

In fact, American between the ages of 18 and 34 are now more likely than Americans in older age brackets to say government should promote traditional values. This reverses the historical pattern in Gallup’s polling on this question.

In the most recent survey, conducted Sept. 8-11, Gallup asked 1,017 Americans age 18 and older this question: “Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?”

The overall results showed that Americans are less likely now than in the past to believe the government should promote traditional values, with 48 percent saying they think the government should and 46 percent saying they think the government should not favor any particular set of values.

The percentage saying they thought the government should promote traditional values peaked twice at 59 percent, first in January 1996 and then again in October 2001.

But over the last three years—since President Barack Obama was elected—the trend has gone the other way among young adults.

In a survey conducted Sept. 8-11, 2008, two months before Obama’s election, only 38 percent of young adults said they thought government should promote traditional values.

In a survey conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 2009, 41 percent said so; in 2010, 47 percent; and, this year, 53 percent.

“The reason for these shifts in views by age is unclear,” said Gallup in its own analysis of the survey.  “They neither track with changes in respondents' overall political ideology-- the percentages of each group labeling themselves ‘conservative’ have held fairly steady over the same period--nor do they parallel approval of the president.”

Among the youngest age bracket published in Gallup’s weekly approval ratings of the president—those 18 to 29 years of age—Obama’s approval has dropped 28 points, from 75 percent the week he was inaugurated in January 2009 to 47 percent last week.

When respondents in Gallup’s traditional-values survey are divided by political affiliation, Republicans---at 59 percent—are more likely than Indepenents—at 47 percent—and Democrats—at 41 percent—to say government should promote traditional values. But the trend is downward among Republicans, having peaked in 2004, when 79 percent said government should promote traditional values.

Because of the "recent surge” in the percentage of young adults who think government should promote traditional values, Gallup suggests that the overall downward trend in this view may be only temporary.

“The trends by age raise questions about how permanent the shift in the overall trend is, with younger adults showing a recent surge in preference for advancing traditional values,” said Gallup’s analysis. “Normally the views of young people are on the leading edge of social change.”

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