Nov 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

By the numbers: Why GOP turns to culture wars

Percentage of Americans who think...
Data: PRRI 2021 American Values Survey; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Here's one potential reason why the GOP elevates so-called culture wars in elections: Republicans and white Christians largely think things were better for Americans in the 1950s than now.

Driving the news: New data from a wide-ranging report released by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and Brookings Institution gives insight into the country's partisan fault lines around identity and culture.

  • The findings crystallize the "competing visions of America," the report says.
  • 80% of Republicans feel "America is in danger of losing its culture and identity" — compared to just 33% of Democrats.

Between the lines: The Virginia governor's race has drawn attention even from former President Obama for the presence of what he called "phony culture wars" and "fake outrage" from the right-wing political and media sphere.

  • Only 29% of Republicans currently think American culture has changed for the better since the 1950s — a noticeable decline from 46% in 2020, but closer to the 31% who felt similarly in 2016 just before Donald Trump was elected president.
  • He ran on the theme, "Make America Great Again."
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