Poll: Parents Still Don’t Want Children Going Into Politics

Rebecca Ballhaus
Wall Street Journal
July 6, 2013

Despite the last few years’ plummeting government approval ratings, the percentage of parents who want their children to go into politics when they grow up has remained remarkably steady, according to a new Gallup poll released on July 4.

According to the survey, 64% of Americans don’t want their child to become a politician, with 31% saying that they do. That’s similar to 1995, when 32% of parents were in favor for their boys and 34% for their girls.

The steady numbers come amid broad public disdain for political institutions. In a June Gallup poll, for instance, Congress had a job approval rating of just 17%. That’s been on a sharp downward trend in recent years, from approval ratings in the 40s as recently as 2005.

But it would appear that regardless of Americans’ approval of the way its government operates, a strong majority have never wanted their children to enter the field. Other than a 1965 peak of 36%, the percentage of parents who said they wanted their son to become a politician has not surpassed 30%, Gallup said.

Despite these numbers, respondents to a separate Gallup poll remained overwhelmingly proud to be an American. According to the survey, 85% said they are proud, with only 3% saying they are “only a little proud” and 1% saying they are not proud. Conservatives were 13 percentage points more likely than liberals to say they were extremely proud to be Americans, at 89% compared to liberals’ 76%.

But respondents do not believe that the country has remained loyal to its founders’ beliefs. A full 71% said the signers of the Declaration of Independence would be disappointed at how the U.S. has turned out. Democrats were more than three times as likely than Republicans to say the founders would be pleased, with 42% compared to Republicans’ 12%.

These numbers are based on two Gallup surveys taken in June. The first surveyed 1,529 adults from June 1-4, and the second surveyed 2,048 adults June 20-24. Both have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.