Polling Who We Really Are: Part II

by Jeremy Zogby


Americans are all too familiar with the issues that divide us, but how many are aware of those that unite us?

This article reveals how voters share serious concerns about serious issues that we face as a nation.

The American Dream

A recent John Zogby Strategies poll of 1,000 US voters last month asked whether the American dream is alive and well, ill, on life support, or dead.

  • Those who say the dream is alive and well break down as follows – 31% of Democrats, 24% of Republicans, and 23% of Independent voters.
  • Among respondents who say the dream is ill are 22% of Democrats, 26% of Republicans, and 28% of Independents.
  • Regarding whether the dream is on life support or not, 27% of Democrats, 36% of Republicans, and 26% of Independents say it is on life support.
  • Those who say the American dream is dead include 12% of Democrats, 9% of Republicans, and 13% of Independents.

We begin with this cornerstone of American culture that is deeply embedded in the American psyche going back to the founding of the nation – that America is an exemplary nation because its citizenry more so than any other country could obtain material and/or spiritual freedom.

What’s most fascinating is the party breakdown for each choice regarding the health of the American Dream reflects alignment among voters.  If anything, the real divide in America is not political party affiliation, but that only roughly one-quarter of American voters believe the dream is alive and well, whereas the rest believe it is falling off a cliff.

America as an Exemplary Nation

A more recent national survey of 1,005 voters posed the question, which of the following statements comes closer to your view?  America remains an exemplary nation or America is fasting losing its freedoms?

Exactly one-quarter (25%) report that America is still an exemplary nation (these are the folks that believe the American dream is alive and well) vs. 64% who believe America is fast losing its freedoms.

Among the vast majority who hold a more pessimistic view about America’s standing in the world – this includes 55% of Democrats, 76% of Republicans, and 59% of Independents.

The source of our division

This is a conversation changing question – which of the following statements comes closer to your view regarding hyper-polarization – It is mainly the fault of my opposing party or it is equally the result of both parties? 

Overall, half (50%) of voters acknowledge it is equally both parties vs. 35% who say their opposing party is to blame.

Among those who say the fault lies with both parties include – 40% of Democrats, 51% of Republicans, and 62% of Independents.

Back in October, I asked a similar question, do you agree or disagree with the following statement – The real threat to our Democracy is not the other party, but both parties that are too busy scapegoating each other?

Overall, 70% of voters agreed with the above statement and sentiment was equally intense across party line.


When Americans are presented with views at loggerheads that allow them to box themselves in – the results follow – polling data will always show voters intensely in opposition.

But when polling probes the public on issues of shared importance, we get a different picture.

The takeaway is that there is vast potential to own the unity market within our political landscape.  Both parties and by far most candidates are aligned with the divide and conquer paradigm. 

But who is willing to invest in the new unity market?  From a candidate and messaging standpoint, there is a lot of growth potential here based on the above numbers.

1 Comment

  1. As a pollster myself and a political scientist, I can attest the the accuracy of these findings. But I can contribute more. Americans are pretty disgusted with American politicians in general and out political institutions. Only federal agencies seem to be rated rather well by most Americans. Americans give dismal approval ratings to Congress with the the vast percentage of Americans having lost trust in their government. Unfortunately, what Americans agree on are not comforting.

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