Americans are now more clearly in favor of the government promoting "traditional values" than against – a change from recent years, when the public's views were more divided.
In this year's annual Gallup Governance poll, 53 percent of Americans said the government should promote traditional values, while 42 percent said they disagree and believe the government should not favor any particular set of values. Last year, Americans were divided right down the middle, with 48 percent taking each position.
"The shift in attitudes this year comes primarily from the political middle," observed the Gallup organization in a summary of its findings. "Independents' views show a dramatic turnaround, from a 55%-37% split against government-promoted morality last year to a 54%-40% division in favor of it today. By contrast, Republicans' and Democrats' views have been relatively stable, with the former solidly in favor of the government's promoting traditional morality, and a majority of the latter opposed."
This year's results marked the first time in recent years that a notable gap appeared between those in favor of the government promoting "traditional values" than those against.
Last year's survey results had marked the highest percentage of Americans opposed to a government role in promoting traditional morality since Gallup's initial measurement of this question in 1993. Opposition had been rising steadily since 1999 while support had been decreasing since late 2001, when the percentage of those favor peaked to 59 percent.
From around the middle of 2005 until last year, the gap between those in favor of promoting values and those opposed was only slight, with the largest difference being about 6 points in 2006.
Notably, the poll does not define what the term "traditional values" means, so respondents answer according to their understanding of the term.
"The results by party and ideology discussed here suggest that respondents understand traditional values to be those generally favored by the Republican Party," the Gallup organization noted.
Results were based on telephone interviews with 1,026 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 2.
The widest margin in the survey's 18-year history was the 21 point gap in late 2008, when only 37 percent of Americans were against the government promoting traditional values.