An American Dream: Financial security, not religion or culture, is what truly matters to Americans
Economic hardship, such as the cost of raising a family, has been identified as the greatest difficulty facing American families today, according to American Family Survey, which was released earlier this month. What is surprising – considering all that we’ve read in recent months about disillusioned American voters – is that other previously important issues such as cultural erosion, immigration, an increase in crime and a decline in religious faith, are seen by respondents as less important than in previous surveys.
The survey of 3,000 adults from across the political, financial, religious and class spectrums, was conducted by YouGov on behalf of Deseret News and the Centre for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University. Respondents were asked what they thought about the role of the parent, the state of marriage and the state of the family, as well as their views on topical issues such as immigration and healthcare. Allison Pond, editor of the Deseret News ‘In-Depth’ team, noted that opinion remained surprisingly consistent despite the broad demographic of those surveyed:
“Every year since we began conducting the American Family Survey, we have been surprised by its findings, and this year they were even more fascinating as we were able to look particularly at Trump voters, Clinton voters, and non-voters. As our cultural and political divide seems to grow wider by the day, it is important to note that most people align in terms of how they live their family lives–but there are some glaring differences in how they view public policy.”
The biggest finding reported by the survey was a dramatic shift in what people believe is the most important issue affecting them today. There was an 11% increase since 2015 of those complaining that economic difficulties were the most pressing, while the number of those saying that cultural problems were the most pressing fell by 17%. This is surprising, not least because of the reasons given by many for the election of President Trump last year. We are consistently told that working-class America turned to Trump because of immigration and cultural erosion.
Yet according to this survey, these factors rank lower in people’s priorities. It may be, now that President Trump is in the White House, people feel that the cultural issues are being addressed and so are dwelling more on their economic prosperity (or lack thereof). The other viable explanation is that the survey is simply wrong. And in a world where opinion polls have consistently been wide of the mark in recent years, this is perhaps the simplest explanation for why the survey returned such drastically different results on Americans’ priorities to what was expected. Nonetheless, the survey returned some interesting data on what Americans think of the family and other relevant issues. Below is a breakdown of some of the other findings of the survey:
66 percent of those surveyed believe that marriages creates stronger families. This was seen as particularly important by Trump voters (85%) compared to only 45% of Clinton voters thinking marriage is vital to create strong families. Meanwhile, 75% of Trump voters think that marriage is better for society, compared to 43% of Clinton voters.
More than 1 in 10 of those surveyed admitted that someone in their family suffered from heroine or opioid addiction.
45% of respondents support President Trump’s proposed abolition of Obamacare, although fewer than 20% of those surveyed support a cut in federal funding for Medicaid.
The survey found that people who use their smart phones more often are more likely to report relationship trouble. 1 in 10 children under five years of age were reported to have a cell phone. People were found to primarily use their cell phones to stay in touch.