Polls: Is America exceptional?
September 12th, 2013
11:01 AM ET
9 years ago

Polls: Is America exceptional?

Updated 9/12/13 11:46 a.m. ET
Washington (CNN) - It's not just President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin who don't see eye to eye over the idea of American "exceptionalism." Polling suggests that the U.S. public's also divided over American exceptionalism.

While no recent polling appears to have asked specifically about the term "American exceptionalism," some surveys over the past few years have asked questions about America's position and role in the world.

Forty-eight percent of those questioned in a Pew Research Survey in 2011 said that the United States was the greatest country in the world, with 42% saying the U.S. was one of the greatest countries and 8% saying the U.S. was not a great country.

The poll indicated a wide generational divide, with 65% of those 65 and older saying the U.S was the world's greatest country. But that number dropped to 50% for those 35-64 and to 34% for people 18-34. There was also a partisan divide, with 63% of Republicans saying the U.S. was the greatest country in the world. That number dropped to 46% among Democrats and 41% among independents.

In 2011, Pew also asked Americans to agree or disagree with the statement, "our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior to others." Forty-nine percent said yes, with 46% saying no. The percentage of those touting America's cultural superiority was down 11 points from 2002.

Of course, the wording of a question greatly impacts the answer. A Gallup poll from 2010 asked "because of the United States' history and its Constitution, do you think the U.S. has a unique character that makes it the greatest country in the world?"

Eighty percent answered yes, with just 18% disagreeing.

Vladimir Putin's comments on American exceptionalism, Syria cause a fuss

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: Polls
soundoff (262 Responses)
  1. vinster76

    anybody been to Russia, seen how they live over there?????? for putin to comment on anything having to do with the USA, he first should take his shirtless self on a tour of his own ash heap of a country......

    September 12, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  2. Ancient Texan

    We ARE exceptional, but our leadership is out of touch with the country; incompetent!

    September 12, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  3. lol

    majority of americans have never left america to visit another country. what do they know about being "exceptional"?

    September 12, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  4. oracle

    Asking Americans if they think America is exceptional ... really?

    Next, let's poll new parents and ask if they think their own kid is "super cute" ...

    September 12, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  5. Tiffany Young

    We use to be exceptional in the '50s and 60s. We are no longer a leader nor exceptional in anything.
    Look around the world and see the achievements of countries like China, India, Brazil, and even Cuba!
    Our healthcare and mortality doesn't rate among the top 10, nor is our education system great, nor the pop culture that has driven this country to an "embarrassing level".

    Our POTUS is an amateur in Chief and the more we deal with international issues and healthcare issues; the more we will see his deficiencies.

    September 12, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  6. Jerry Okamura

    One thing that makes us exceptional, is we get involved in more wars, than anyone else.

    September 12, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  7. D'Eon

    I believe that the USA has the greatest POTENTIAL but that it is not being realized, not even close.

    September 12, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  8. chuck

    Freedom. That what is all about... we an American have .....so

    September 12, 2013 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  9. Dennis O'Hagan

    Regardless of how some Americans may like to water it down, "exceptionalism" says "we are better than you, and we are above the rules that we expect the rest of you to obey." What strikes me as funny is that if someone claimed one race was "exceptional" over another, most people are evolved enough to instantly recognize that as bigotry. Replace "race" with "nation" and the same logic applies. Is an American life more valuable than a non-American life? Shockingly, many evidently believe so (arrogant bigots disguised as patriots).

    September 12, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  10. JD

    America is exceptional! We are exceptional because we help people in need: here and abroad. We are exceptional because we ask strangers "How can I help you?" Because we send food to hungry children and we help bring water in cities around the world.
    They wish other countries would reach the same level of patriotic love for their country and help of another. There is no country like America!
    God Bless America!

    September 12, 2013 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  11. orrball

    CNN 's man Obama Delivered us here. I hope CNN owns Obamacare next year even Pres. Clinton said its a mess

    September 12, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  12. TomInRochNY

    We are exceptionally good at interfering with other countries. Oh, and microbrews.

    September 13, 2013 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
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