Most Americans still think the United States is great, but this Independence Day weekend, trends show that fewer and fewer citizens report being "extremely proud" to be Americans.
A new Gallup poll shows 54 percent of citizens are "extremely proud" to be American, down 3 percentage points from 2013 and 16 percentage points from 2003.
The majority of Americans still express varying levels of patriotism, with 27 percent saying they are "very proud," 14 percent saying they are "moderately proud," and 4 percent saying they are "only a little proud." Just 1 percent say they are "not at all proud."
Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow on public opinion and polls at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, told VICE News that the numbers might reflect disappointment with Congress, national politics, and the economy.
"Things aren't going well around the world; they don't seem to be going as well at home. People are sort of less confident that they're going to be doing better next year, so I think all of those things combined … are probably contributing to perhaps a little less faith in the country overall," Bowman said.
University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Michael Wagner, an expert on public opinion, told VICE News that he wouldn't characterize the new numbers as a decline, but as a return to pre-9/11 levels, pointing to the 55 percent of Americans who said they were "extremely proud" in 2001.
American patriotism saw a steep increase after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and at the beginning of the Iraq war. The attacks amplified feelings of national solidarity, boosting the percentage of Americans who were "extremely proud" to be American, Wagner said.
Bowman said that overall the views of the country have remained stable.
"If you look at the historical trends on patriotism over time, they're pretty stable. I mean, you do see the occasional blip as we did after 9/11, when strong patriotic feelings spiked and people flew the flag more and did other kinds of things that reflected patriotism, but basically our views about patriotism are pretty stable," Bowman said.
Levels of pride vary throughout the country and by demographics. The South is the most patriotic region, with 61 percent "extremely proud" compared with 46 percent in the West. Sixty-eight percent of Republicans are "extremely proud" compared with 47 percent of Democrats. Sixty-four percent of senior citizens are "extremely proud" compared with 43 percent under age 30.
While the percentage of "extremely proud" Americans may have decreased in the last several years, the Gallup numbers show more than nine in 10 are at least "moderately proud."
"The kind of patriotism we see in the polls is not a blind patriotism, we realize that a lot of things aren't going well, that there are flaws in a lot of areas, but at the same time we still love the country," Bowman said to VICE News.
The Gallup poll was based on responses to phone interviews completed from June 2 to June 7, with a random sample of 1,527 adults throughout the country.
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