Poll: Parents want kids to avoid political careers
July 5th, 2013
10:00 AM ET
9 years ago

Poll: Parents want kids to avoid political careers

(CNN) – Parents often dream about their child's future, but a career in politics seems more like a nightmare to many.

Nearly two-thirds–64%–of Americans would not like their child to pursue a political career, compared to 31% who think that would be a good path, according to a Gallup survey released Friday.

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That number has remained relatively consistent since Gallup began asking about sons and daughters in 1993. Those who approved of a career in politics for their child have fluctuated between 61% and 71%.

With the country recovering from a bitter presidential campaign and with the approval ratings of Congress hovering just above 10%, it's no surprise that parents want their children to avoid one of the least-liked professions among Americans.

A Gallup survey released last month showed Congress ranking last among 16 society institutions in terms of confidence levels from the American people. The military placed first, small business came in second, church and organized religion came in third and the presidency came in fourth.

Breaking it down by demographics, nonwhites are much more likely than whites to say they would like to see their child go into politics, according to Gallup. By a margin of 42% to 26%, nonwhites say they'd like their son to have a political career, and 45% to 25% say they'd like their daughter to do the same.

There is little difference between ideologies, though Democrats and independents are slightly more likely than Republicans to want their child to go into politics. Men are also a little bit more likely than women to want their sons and daughters to choose a politically-related career.

Interestingly, the numbers significantly change according to the order of the questions. Americans are much more likely to say they want their daughter or son to go into politics when they're asked about a daughter first. Thirty-seven percent say they'd like to see their daughter go into politics; when followed up with a question about a son going into politics, an equal amount say they would like that kind of future for their son.

However, when Gallup switched up the order and asked about a son first, the number of those wanting to see a son go into politics drops 12 percentage points to 25%. When asked about a daughter next, 26% said they would like their daughter to go into politics–also a sharp decrease.

Thirty-one percent marks the average of both genders when considering the order of the questions. Gallup says the answering trend has been consistent in the past.

"This suggests that Americans may be interpreting the question as one about gender equality when asked about a daughter first, and therefore that makes them more likely to favor a political career for their children of either sex," read a release that came with the poll. "When asked about a son first, Americans may interpret the question as more straightforward one about the desirability of a political career and are less likely to favor it for either a son or daughter in that circumstance."

While Gallup started asking about daughters in 1993, the polling institution has been questioning Americans about sons since 1944. Curiously, the number of those wanting to see their son go into politics has changed little since then, when it stood at 21%. The highest point ever was in 1965, when 36% said they wanted to see their son go into politics. This was a time when "Americans were still rallying around President Johnson after he took office following the death of John F. Kennedy," the release stated.

Gallup surveyed 2,048 American adults by telephone from June 20-24, with a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Filed under: Polls
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Donkey Party

    The problem is with the question. Nobody should ever consider a "career" in politics, that's part of the problem with politics, and why there should be term limits.

    July 5, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  2. Thomas

    Anthony David Weiner is an American politician .

    Politics is my life

    July 5, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  3. PaulCat

    I would love for my child to have a career in politics. He can get paid $200,000 a year for doing nothing. I would tell him to ask for a raise everytime he need to take a vacation.

    July 5, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  4. plain&simple

    You need consistency in politics,just like any other job. By the time you get good and develope relationships that cross the aisle .....you're gone because of some arbitrary time limit. No thanks. To much turmoil . Stop the moving of district lines to suit whoever is in power and we will get a fairer representation!

    July 5, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    That would also apply to the legal profession, then, as the corruption of politics comes directly from the corruption of the legal profession.

    The perfect example, resides in the WH, at this moment.

    July 5, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  6. S.B. Stein

    I wouldn't mind my kids going into politics. I would like to be there to help them out as best I could hoping I wouldn't be a liability to them (weird dad who hopes that science and rational thinking guides policy). I don't think that they would only because they (and I) don't have the money for it. It takes too much money to run for office; even the local races cost too much.

    July 5, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. Borderless

    Well of course I wouldn't my kids to go into politics. When they are adults, I would hope they act would like adults.

    July 5, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |