Also Support NFL National Anthem Policy by 2-to-1 Margin

ST. LEO, FL ­­– As the United States looks forward to celebrating Independence Day on July 4, a new Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( survey shows most American view themselves as patriotic. The poll also shows most say they support the NFL’s new policy of fining teams when their players kneel or fail to show respect for the U.S. flag during the playing of the national anthem.

A significant majority—85.5 percent—say they are either very patriotic (45.8 percent) or somewhat patriotic (39.7 percent), according to the online poll conducted nationally among 1,000 adults between May 25 and May 31, 2018.

Those saying they support (somewhat or strongly) the new NFL policy account for 59.5 percent while 31.5 percent say they somewhat or strong oppose the plan. Earlier in May, the National Football League’s 32 owners gave unanimous approval to a policy that allows players to stay in the locker room during the national anthem, but requires any player on the field to stand at attention during the national anthem. Teams could be fined, and teams also have the right to fine players who do not comply.

The reasons people who report they are patriotic included pride in the military, the charitable nature of Americans, and a strong democracy, among others, the poll shows.

Among those who reported being very or somewhat patriotic, the reasons are displayed in the following table.  Results are shown in declining order. Multiple responses were accepted.

Reasons for Being Patriotic National – %
The men and women serving in the military make me proud 55.6
The humanitarian / charitable nature of Americans – willing to help each other in times of need and disasters 43.2
We live in a strong democracy 41.2
Our nation remains a beacon – attractive to people worldwide 41.1
While not perfect, our institutions work well 35.7
Our entrepreneurial “can do” nature of innovation and invention 33.9
I have faith in capitalism today 28.8
President Trump 28.3
The economy is booming 25.6
The nation is moving in the right direction 25.5
We’re taking a lead in foreign relations once again 23.7
My political party is in power 14.0
Unsure   3.6


By age group, the polling results from the youngest age group shows they are the least patriotic with 80.6 percent in the 18- to 44-age group saying they are very/somewhat patriotic. By contrast, 88.8 percent of the 45- to 56-age group and 90.3 of the 65- and older group respond they are patriotic.

“This probably isn’t that surprising, but the spread between the young and old groups was pretty large,” said Frank Orlando, director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute and a political scientist. “These are people who lived through something like September 11th in their formative years.”

A modest majority say the men and women serving in the military make them proud,” Orlando noted. “Only two out of five believe that we are living in a strong democracy and that this is a reason for patriotism, and less than one-third feel this way about capitalism. As a society, we don’t seem to have very much common ground on what makes one patriotic.”

While 85.5 percent overall report being patriotic, Saint Leo University’s poll shows 10.1 percent consider themselves less patriotic or not at all patriotic. The most frequently stated reason for that: President Donald Trump, according to 62.4 percent.

Other reasons cited included the idea that the nation is going in the wrong direction (45.5 percent); the nation is too divided (45.5 percent); having little or no faith in democracy today (40.6 percent); just not proud of the country (40.6 percent); don’t agree with U.S. foreign policy (29.7 percent); have little or no faith in capitalism (25.7 percent); nation is becoming too conservative (17.8 percent); the respondent’s political party is out of power (8.9 percent); the nation is becoming too liberal (8.9 percent); unsure (8.9 percent); and the country is too involved overseas (7.9 percent). Multiple answers were accepted.

The poll also shows 69.9 percent of respondents say their patriotism has increased or remained strong for the past 16 months while 22.7 percent say theirs remains low or declined in the same time period.


Acting American
Acts of patriotism are demonstrated in various ways, and the poll asked what acts people do either regularly or from time to time. The poll shows that most people say they vote on a regular basis—69.5 percent—as an example of being loyal to their country. Other patriotic acts include: thanking a veteran for his/her service, 54.9 percent; owning an American flag, 48.3 percent; trying to buy American-made goods, 46.9 percent; flying or displaying an American flag at home, 35.8 percent; attending community parades such as Veterans Day or Memorial Day parades, 27.7 percent; defending the greatness of the nation in discussions, 25.7 percent; tearing up or getting choked up at the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner,” 25.1 percent; contributing to veteran-support groups, 20.1 percent; contributing to groups or causes with patriotic missions, 15.2 percent; sharing pro-American messages on social media, (15 percent); and serving/served in the military, 14.4 percent.


Lack of support for taking a knee
Kneeling during the national anthem at NFL games to protest racial injustice and police brutality came to the forefront in 2016 when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first refused to stand for the song. He began kneeling rather than sitting on the bench, he said, in order to show respect, but also as a sign of protest.

With President Donald Trump tweeting about kneeling, and some calls for boycotts of NFL games and watching televised coverage, the backlash resulted in the new NFL ruling.

In the Saint Leo Polling Institute survey, 77.5 percent who say they are conservative support the new rule while 51.5 percent who say they are moderate offer support, and 39.7 percent who identify as liberal say they support the new NFL policy. Race and party affiliation do come into play in the poll results, but not to a great degree.

The poll shows support of the NFL ruling at 63.9 percent among white respondents, 58.2 percent among Hispanics, and 39.7 percent among American-Americans. Republicans overwhelmingly support the new policy with 80 percent compared to 59.7 percent of independents, and 42.4 percent of Democrats, the poll results state.

“It’s remarkable how consistently popular the decision by NFL owners is,” Orlando, the Saint Leo political scientist, said. “Majorities of basically every demographic and political group approve of the rule. Across age, education levels, and income, there is consistent support. Blacks, liberals, and Democrats disapprove on the whole, but around 40 percent of those groups agree with the policy. This isn’t exactly a slam dunk.”

Orlando said it makes sense to see Democratic Party leaders such as U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi not condemn the new policy outright.

“Independent voters support the policy at almost 60 percent,” Orlando noted. “This isn’t the kind of issue Democrats want to campaign against. In fact, more than anything, it exposes cracks in the Democratic coalition. The most progressive Democrats and young African-Americans are leading the charge against the policy, but will leading Democrats stand with those voices attacking a policy that seems to have mainstream support?”


Characteristics outlined
So what defines a patriotic American? The Saint Leo poll asked about the characteristics and allowed multiple responses. The results show most view voting, thanking veterans for their service, speaking out against the government if there is a belief it is wrong; “buying American”; serving in the military; and flying an American flag as the top answers.

Patriotic Acts National – %
Votes on a regular basis 66.0
Thanks veterans for their service 57.9
Speaks out against the government when he/she believes it is wrong 45.9
Tries to buy American-made goods when possible 45.7
Serve/served in the military 42.8
Flies or displays an American flag at home outside or insides 40.0
Owns an American flag 39.3
Speaks out against a president when in disagreement 38.8
Defends the greatness of the nation in discussions and arguments 36.9
Serves/served on a jury 34.9
Attends community parades on such as Veterans or Memorial Day 32.0
Contributes funds to veteran support groups 30.9
Contributes funds to groups or causes known to be patriotic in their mission 24.3
Tears up or gets a lump in their throat at the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner” 23.2
Posts, re-posts or tweets patriotic or pro-American messages on social media 14.5
Attends anti-Trump rallies 10.4
Works to impeach a sitting president   9.9
Attends protests   9.7


“It is a bit ironic that voting is the activity most associated with patriotism, but we almost never see 66 percent voter turnout,” said Orlando, director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.  “The only other thing that a majority agreed with was thanking veterans for their service.  Beyond that, we don’t seem to have a very good idea of what makes someone patriotic. Perhaps this is a symptom of how far apart we are as a country today. “


About the Poll
METHODOLOGY: The poll sampled opinions of 1,000 adults approximately proportional to state population nationwide. The survey was conducted May 25 through May 31, 2018. All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The poll has a +/- 3.0 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level (on a composite basis).

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can also be found here: You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.


Media contacts: Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-7118 or (813) 610-8416 (cell/text).
Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-8237 or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text).     


More About Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University ( is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. Saint Leo welcomes people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourages learners of all generations. The university is committed to providing educational opportunities to the nation’s armed forces, veterans, and their families. Saint Leo is regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and the faculty and staff guide all students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.

The university remains the faithful steward of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where its founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving more than 13,000 students, Saint Leo has expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintains a physical presence in seven states. The university provides highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 94,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.