West Long Branch, NJ – Most Americans are fine with President Donald Trump giving a public 4th of July speech on the National Mall, but at the same time very few have actually heard anything about it. Among those who are aware, majority opinion of this idea is actually negative, according to the Monmouth University Poll. Watching Trump’s speech lags behind barbecues and fireworks as an Independence Day activity Americans are looking forward to. The poll also finds that 8-in-10 Americans think the nation’s founders would be upset with how the federal government has been operating over the past decade. In other Fourth of July related findings, 1-in-5 Americans have recently visited a Revolutionary War site and three states – Massachusetts, Virginia, and Pennsylvania – tend to be the most top-of-mind for playing a major role in the struggle for independence.
Just over half (52%) of the American public approve of Trump’s intention to address the nation from the Lincoln Memorial on July 4th rather than taping a standard video message. One-third (34%) disapprove. However, very few people (20%) have heard anything about the president’s planned speech. Among those who have heard about it – and are presumably aware of the controversy surrounding this decision – just 37% approve and 56% disapprove. Among all Americans, 81% of Republicans, 55% of independents, and 27% of Democrats support the president’s plan to give a public speech.
“Trump’s plan to speak in the middle of the National Mall is flying under the radar right now. Those who know about it, though, seem to worry that it could detract from a day when the nation comes together to celebrate our founding,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
One-third (33%) of Americans say they plan to watch Trump’s speech on July 4th. This is significantly less than the number of people who say they will attend a barbecue (69%) or go to a professional fireworks show (51%) that day, but about the same as the number who plan to set off their own fireworks (31%) or go to an Independence Day parade (28%).
Interest in watching Trump’s speech skews along partisan lines. It includes 59% of Republicans but just 28% of independents and 19% of Democrats. Participation in other 4th of July activities is far less partisan. There are virtually no differences in plans to go to a barbecue by party – 73% of Democrats, 71% of Republicans, and 68% of independents will do this. Democrats (54%) are slightly more likely than independents (51%) and Republicans (47%) to plan to see a professional fireworks show, while independents (35%) and Republicans (33%) are more likely than Democrats (26%) to plan to set off their own fireworks. Republicans (36%) are also somewhat more likely than independents (27%) or Democrats (25%) to plan to see a parade.
While most of America is celebrating the country’s 243rd birthday there is a sense that the nation’s founders would not be in a jubilant mood. Fully 83% of the public thinks that the founders of our country would be upset with the way the institutions of our government, such as Congress and the presidency, have been working over the past ten years. Just 11% say the founders would be happy with the way things have been going with the government they created. There is widespread bipartisan agreement – 85% of Democrats, 84% of Republicans, and 83% of independents – that the nation’s founders would be none too happy with the current state of affairs.
“It doesn’t look like many Americans feel that Washington, Adams, and Jefferson would be joining in the Independence Day festivities this year,” said Murray.
On a more positive note, most Americans do know from which country we won our independence. Fully 80% correctly name England or Great Britain when asked this question. These results are in line with, and perhaps a slight tick higher than, a series of polls from Gallup (1991 to 2001) and Marist College (2010 to 2017), which found knowledge of the former colonies’ ruling nation to be between 74% and 79% over the past three decades.
The current poll finds that 1-in-5 Americans (20%) have visited a Revolutionary War site in the past five years. This includes 22% of independents, 20% of Democrats, and 18% of Republicans. Given the location of the original 13 colonies it is not surprising that East Coast residents (27%) are more likely than the rest of the country (16%) to report having visited a site associated with the American Revolution in the past five years.
The Monmouth University Poll also asked which state is most top-of-mind in relation to the Revolutionary War. Most Americans name one of three states from the original 13, with Massachusetts (24%) leading the pack, followed by Virginia (18%) and Pennsylvania (12%). New York is mentioned by 6%, with tiny Delaware at 3%, and South Carolina at 2%. The other seven original states are mentioned by 1% or fewer. Another 3% mention either Washington, DC or a state that was originally part of a former colony (i.e. Maine, Vermont, West Virginia), 8% mention a state that was not part of the original union, and 18% give no answer or say they don’t know.
When asked specifically to rate the role each of the 13 original states played in the Revolutionary War effort, approximately two-thirds rate Massachusetts (69%), Virginia (69%), and Pennsylvania (61%) among the more significant states. The next tier of importance includes New York (52%), Delaware (51%), and Maryland (42%). Opinion is split on the importance of South Carolina (33% more significant / 31% less significant), New Jersey (32% more significant / 27% less significant), North Carolina (32% more significant / 28% less significant), Connecticut (29% more significant / 26% less significant), and New Hampshire (28% more significant / 29% less significant). At the bottom of the pack are Rhode Island (23% more significant / 37% less significant) and Georgia (20% more significant / 44% less significant).
There are very few regional differences in the perceived impact each state had in the Revolutionary War – with two exceptions. East Coast residents are more likely to see New York (60%) and New Jersey (40%) as having played a greater role in the American Revolution than residents in other parts of the country are (48% for New York and 27% for New Jersey).
“Massachusetts and Virginia have been successful at making the Revolutionary War central to their identities as well as an economic driver for their tourism industries. But the key events in New England occurred at the start of the war and in the south at the very end. The longest stretch of major activity took place in the middle region from Philadelphia to New York City. It is interesting to note that New York and New Jersey are seen as more important to American independence among those who live in the region where the war was fought,” said Murray. In addition to his life as a pollster, Murray is actively involved in the Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area in New Jersey – the only heritage area in the country designated specifically because of its Revolutionary War history.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from June 12 to 17, 2019 with 751 adults in the United States. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.
QUESTIONS AND RESULTS
(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)
[Q1-22 previously released.]
23. The Revolutionary War was fought between 1775 and 1783. When you think of the American Revolution, which U.S. state first comes to mind? [LIST WAS NOT READ]
|Maine, Vermont, West Virginia||1%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||12%|
24. I am going to read you a number of states. For each one, please tell me whether it was one of the more significant states involved in the Revolutionary War effort, about average in significance, or if it was less significant than most other states? [STATE NAMES WERE ROTATED]
25. Have you personally visited any Revolutionary War sites in the past five years, or have you not done that?
|Yes, have visited||20%|
|No, have not visited||79%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||1%|
26. As far as you know, from what country did America gain its independence following the Revolutionary War?
|(VOL) Don’t know||15%|
27. Do you think the founders of our country would be happy or upset with the way the institutions of our government, such as Congress and the presidency, have been working over the past ten years?
|(VOL) Don’t know||6%||8%|
28. Have you heard about President Trump’s plans to give a speech from the Lincoln Memorial on July 4th this year instead of taping a video message for Independence Day, or haven’t you heard about this?
29. Do you approve or disapprove of Trump giving a speech from the Lincoln Memorial on the 4th of July?
|(VOL) Don’t know||13%|
30. Looking ahead to the 4th of July holiday coming up, do you plan to do any of the following to celebrate? [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]
|Attend a barbecue||69%||27%||3%||(751)|
|Go to a parade||28%||69%||3%||(751)|
|Go to a professional fireworks show||51%||46%||4%||(751)|
|Set off your own fireworks||31%||67%||2%||(751)|
|Watch President Trump’s speech||33%||64%||3%||(751)|
The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from June 12 to 17, 2019 with a national random sample of 751 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 301 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 450 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Dynata (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.
|68% No degree|
|32% 4 year degree|
Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.