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Record share of Americans say US moral values are poor — and most believe they're getting worse

Image source: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nearly half of Americans believe the state of moral values in the U.S. is poor, according to a newly released survey from Gallup. And more than three-quarters of U.S. citizens say it's getting worse.

What are the survey results?

A recent Gallup poll asked the question, "How would you rate the overall state of moral values in this country today — as excellent, good, only fair or poor?" — and the results set a record.

Almost half (49 percent) of Americans responded that the United States' moral values are poor, and just 14 percent called them excellent or good.

Though Americans have always been far more likely to look at U.S. morals negatively since Gallup began polling the question in 2002, this most recent poll set a record for the share of those who see U.S. moral values as poor. The previous high was 45 percent, which was hit in 2017, 2015, and 2010.

The rate of Americans who called U.S. moral values excellent or good tied the previous all-time low set in 2006.

What does the future look like?

And things don't look good for the direction of our national morality.

When asked if U.S. moral values are getting better or worse, Americans have been consistently and overwhelmingly negative since the poll began — and this year was no different.

Some 77 percent of us feel that American morals are on the decline, while just 18 percent say they're getting better.

Do political parties have nearly identical views?

According to Gallup's calculations, Republicans and Democrats are equally negative on the state of U.S. morals, though the party views do seem to depend on who's in the Oval Office:

Gallup computes a moral values index with the two measures, based on the average net positive figures for both questions; the index has a theoretical range of -100 (if everyone thinks morals are poor and getting worse) to +100 (if everyone believes morals are excellent or good and getting better).

Republicans' and Democrats' moral values index scores are currently about equally negative, with Republicans' at -48 and Democrats' at -46. This parity is similar to what Gallup found in its earliest measures from 2002 to 2005. However, from 2006 to 2016, starting in George W. Bush's second term and intensifying during Barack Obama's presidency, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents expressed far more negative views about the nation's moral values than Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents did. This is evident in Republicans' index scores consistently falling below -40 during this period, whereas Democrats' scores moved closer to -20 once Obama became president.

But since President Donald Trump has taken office, Democrats have become more negative in their views of the current state and direction of U.S. values, even as Republicans have become significantly less negative -- moving each group's index score to about the same level: near or above -40. Democrats' and Republicans' index scores on this measure are now the closest they have been since 2004.

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