A new poll from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics (IOP) has found that a declining number of college students describe themselves as “patriotic.”

According to the poll, 62% of college students consider themselves patriotic. This is broken down into 18% of undergraduates who called themselves “very patriotic,” and 43% who said they were “somewhat patriotic.” Additionally, 25% considered themselves “not very patriotic” with 12% being “not at all patriotic.”

When broken into subgroups, the poll found that 41% of Republicans consider themselves very patriotic, whereas only 11% of Democrats call themselves very patriotic.

After the attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, the same IOP youth survey found that 89% of college undergraduates considered themselves “patriotic” with 33% percent saying they were “very patriotic.

The pollsters also found that the term “patriot” meant different things to different to students based on which political party they identified with.

“When asked in an open-ended question what word they associated with ‘patriot,’ Republicans were more likely than Democrats to associate positive attributes,” the pollsters found. “Republicans used terms such as loyalty, pride, and responsibility; in contrast, many Democrats associated the word ‘patriot’ with racism/xenophobia and a general ignorance about the reality of America today.”

The poll also found that 51% of young Americans support former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race, whereas 28% support President Donald Trump.

The surveyed young adults also approve of democratic socialism nearly as much as they do capitalism. Forty-Five support capitalism, 40% support democratic socialism and 30% support socialism.

In general, socialism is viewed more favorably by younger generations. On February 21, 2020, The Daily Citizen reported on a poll which found that 58% of U.S. adults disapprove of socialism, whereas only 28% approved.

John Della Volpe, Director of Polling for the IOP at the Harvard Kennedy School, discussed the IOP young adult poll which also asked a myriad of other questions. “We found that stress related to debt, the cost of housing, access to health care, mental health resources, and concern about whether or not loved ones will survive coronavirus are the prism from which young Americans will view and engage in this campaign,” Volpe said. “Self-defense, in 2020, is one of the primary motivations for voting.”

In 2011, Harvard University found in a study that attending a Fourth of July fireworks display or a flag waving parade increased the chance that a child will grow up to register as a Republican. Harvard University professor David Yanagizawa-Drott told ABC News at the time, “the celebration of Fourth of July embodies certain ideas or values that are closer to the Republican Party. This in turn affects how children experience the event.”

The IOP young adult poll was conducted between March 11 and March 23, 2020 with 2,546 young adults surveyed from ages 18 to 29.


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