While 80 percent of Americans think that America "has a unique character that makes it the greatest country in the world," more than a third say President Obama does not share that belief, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll
conducted Dec. 10-12.
Gallup's poll on the concept often referred to as "U.S. exceptionalism
" found that Americans rank Obama significantly below three other modern presidents in terms of whether Obama subscribes to the idea.
Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed believe he does regard America as exceptional while 37 percent say he doesn't. Three-quarters of Americans or more say that Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush believed in U.S. exceptionalism.
Unsurprisingly, Republicans do not think Obama believes in the concept by a 61 percent to 34 percent margin. Independents believe he does by a 57 percent to 38 percent margin, as do 83 percent of Democrats.
As far as the political significance of this subject, Karen Tumulty wrote last month in the Washington Post
that "with Republicans and tea party activists accusing President Obama and the Democrats of turning the country toward socialism, the idea that the United States is inherently superior to the world's other nations has become the battle cry from a new front in the ongoing culture wars. Lately, it seems to be on the lips of just about every Republican who is giving any thought to running for president in 2012."
Tumulty notes potential GOP presidential contenders who recently have questioned Obama's adherence to the idea in their books, interviews or speeches, including Mitt Romney, Mike Pence, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.
"His worldview is dramatically different than any president, Republican or Democrat, we've had," Huckabee told Politico
last August. "He grew up more as a globalist than an American. To deny American exceptionalism is in essence to deny the heart and soul of this nation."
Gallup also found in its poll that three-quarters of those who believe the U.S. is exceptional are also concerned that the U.S. is in danger of losing its unique character.
"Given that Americans already believe that the U.S. is exceptional and that its status as the greatest nation in the world is at risk, Republican candidates' political challenges would be to convince voters that Obama's policies and actions on the world stage are to blame, and that he does not share their values on this issue," Gallup said.
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