September 2, 2016

Taking Exception to Exceptionalism

By Lily Wojtowicz, Public Opinion & Foreign Policy Intern

Slowly but surely, the idea that the United States is ‘exceptional’ is on the decline among the American electorate. The 2016 Chicago Council Survey (CCS) shows the number of Americans who view America as the greatest country in the world is down by nine percentage points from when the question was first asked in 2012 (70% 2012, 61% 2016). In The Weekly Standard, CCS advisory board member, Tod Lindberg, recently pointed to this decline in sentiment. He also pointed to the contrast between current Republican and Democrat presidential candidates and their supporters on American exceptionalism.  

Republican Donald Trump insists that American is no longer the great country it once was, while Democrat Hillary Clinton insists it still is a great country. And yet, the 2016 CCS found Republican voters are far more favorable to this view of American greatness (78%) than Democrats (55%). As Lindberg puts it, “those inclined toward skepticism about American exceptionalism are getting a steady diet of American greatness from their candidate, whereas those most inclined to embrace American exceptionalism are getting a stream of negativity from theirs.” Read the full article, “Who’s the Greatest?” here.

About

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs highlights critical shifts in American public thinking on US foreign policy through public opinion surveys and research conducted under the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy. 

The annual Chicago Council Survey, first conducted in 1974, is a valuable resource for policymakers, academics, media, and the general public. The Council also surveys American leaders in government, business, academia, think tanks, and religious organizations biennially to compare trends in their thinking with overall trends. And collaborating with partner organizations, the survey team periodically conducts parallel surveys of public opinion in other regions of the world to compare with US public opinion. 

The Running Numbers blog features regular commentary and analysis from the Council’s public opinion and US foreign policy research team, including a series of flash polls of a select group of foreign policy experts to assess their opinions on critical foreign policy topics driving the news.

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