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What Americans Love & Hate About The U.S.A.

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what Americans love and hate about the USA

A new Harris Poll measures what Americans think about the United States, or, more specifically, how they rate 16 elements of American life.

Aspects of American life which get the most positive ratings, defined as those who rate them excellent or pretty good, are:

Science and technology: 75%

The Constitution: 70%

Colleges and universities: 65%

The quality of life: 66%

TV, movies and entertainment: 62%

Other items that also receive positive ratings, but from smaller majorities, are:

Civil rights: 58%

The standard of living: 56%

Public safety: 56%

Equal opportunity: 52%

The elements that receive the lowest positive ratings (where large majorities give either only fair or poor ratings) are:

The political system: 23%

The economic system: 28%

Public school: 32%

The health care system: 33%

Other elements that receive low ratings, but better than those above, are:

The system of government: 43%

The legal system: 37%

The environment: 44%

Words Matter

The contrast between the 70 percent of the adults who give the Constitution positive marks, the 23 percent who give the political system a positive rating and the 43 percent who give the system of government good marks is very striking.

Differences by Political Party

Civil rights gets better marks from Republicans (70 percent) than from Democrats (53 percent). Equality of opportunity also gets more positive marks from Republicans (65 percent) than from Democrats (47 percent). The environment gets much better marks from Republicans (61 percent) than from Democrats (37 percent). On the other hand, the political system is viewed less favorably by Republicans (19 percent) than by Democrats (33 percent).

Differences by Education

On almost all of the 16 items, the level of satisfaction is correlated with the level of education. For example, those giving the system of government positive ratings increases from 31 percent of those with no more than a high school education to 45 percent of those with some college, 58 percent of those with a college degree and 61 percent of those with post-graduate education. This same gradient, or correlation with education, is true of satisfaction with the Constitution, quality of life, colleges and universities, standard of living, the legal system and the political system.