Washington (CNN) – The number of Americans who say that government should promote traditional values in society has fallen below 50 percent for the first time since CNN began asking this poll question in 1993.
And according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Sunday morning, the number who say that the government should not favor any set of values is now at 50 percent, the highest it has ever been in CNN polling.
Read full results (pdf).
"Throughout the 1990s and the first decade of this century, the number of Americans who wanted government to promote traditional values usually hovered in the mid-50's, occasionally going as high as 59 percent and never dipping below 50 percent," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Last summer's numbers are typical - 53 percent wanted the government to promote traditional values; 44 percent said the government should not push one set of values over another."
Does this spell the end of the search for "values voters?"
Probably not, at least in the GOP primaries and caucuses. More than six in 10 Republicans questioned in the poll say the government should promote traditional values - although even among Republicans, that number is down seven points since last summer.
"The general election, however, may be another story. Rural voters and blue-collar Americans, typically defined as those who never went to college, may not be as motivated by appeals to traditional values as they once were, and the change among those particular groups suggests that economic worries are crowding out social issues," adds Holland.
The number of independent voters who say the government should promote traditional values is also down 12 points since last year.
The survey also indicates there is little change in the number of people who say that government is doing too much that should be left to businesses and individuals - a number that jumped to more than six in ten in the wake of President Barack Obama's victory in 2008.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted June 3-7, with 1,015 adult Americans, including 433 Republicans and independent voters who lean towards the GOP, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.