Despite popularity among GOP candidates, American Exceptionalism on the decline

at 06:30 AM ET, 11/18/2011

American Exceptionalism may be experiencing a renaissance when it comes to the GOP presidential race.

When it comes to the American public, though, the concept is more and more a thing of the past.
An American flag flies in Zuccotti Park on Wednesday, a day after it was cleared of Occupy Wall Street protesters. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A new poll from the Pew Research Center shows that fewer than half of Americans now believe that American culture is superior to the rest of the world.

Just 49 percent of Americans agree with the statement that, while Americans themselves “aren’t perfect, our culture is superior.”

That’s down from 60 percent in 2002 and 55 percent in 2007, and it’s only slightly higher than in Germany (47 percent) and Spain (44 percent).

In other words, even the number of people who believe in American Exceptionalism in the United States isn’t all that exceptional anymore.

At nearly 50 percent, of course, we aren’t expecting Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain to stop talking about the concept anytime soon. Fully 63 percent of Republicans say they believe in the idea.

And particularly when it comes to conservative Americans, the idea of American Exceptionalism can serve as a rallying point against a president that some Republicans have labeled an apologist, a socialist and all manner of other anti-American and anti-capitalist buzzwords

For an example, look no further than the GOP’s current campaign to capi­tal­ize on President Obama’s “lazy” remark. The American Exceptionalist crowd is very much the target of such efforts, as for many of them, the insinuation that Americans are lazy — which isn’t what Obama actually said — makes their blood boil.

But when it comes to the general election, will the GOP’s focus on America’s superiority appeal to independents who may no longer buy into the concept?

The poll shows more independents disagree with the idea of exceptionalism, 49 percent, than agree with it, 45 percent.

Whether they will take offense to the idea is another matter. But what’s clear is that the idea isn’t as popular as it once was.

And it looks as though it will continue to get less popular. While 60 percent of Americans over the age of 50 say they believe in the concept of American Exceptionalism, just 37 percent of those under 30 say the same thing.

It will be interesting to see how much the idea of American Exceptionalism is reprised by whoever winds up as the GOP presidential nominee. It’s great code for creating a contrast with the current occupant of the White House when you’re talking to fellow conservatives, but it’s an increasingly unpopular concept.

Arizona redistricting chairwoman reinstated: The Arizona Supreme Court on Thursday handed Democrats a major victory, reinstating the chairwoman of the state’s bipartisan redistricting commission, who had been removed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) and the GOP-controlled state Senate.

Brewer and the state Senate removed the chairwoman, Colleen Mathis, two weeks ago after the commission issued a draft map that Republicans said favored Democrats.

In its ruling, though, the Supreme Court said that Brewer hasn’t demonstrated that Mathis met the standards for removal, specifically “substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office or inability to discharge the duties of office.”

The map produced by the commission is now back on track. It creates a new 9th district that Republicans aren’t happy with, shores up Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s (D-Ariz.) conservative-leaning district and endangers freshman Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).

Gingrich putting the team back together?: Two Iowa staffers who quit Newt Gingrich’s campaign in June are rejoining the effort.

Craig Schoenfeld and Katie Koberg are coming back to the campaign as senior advisers, the Gingrich campaign told the Des Moines Register.

Also of note: former top Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler said recently that he wouldn’t rule out rejoining the team, either.

Of course, when his staff left him, Gingrich decried the kind of consultant-driven politics that has consumed American politics, so bringing back too much of the old team might make him look a little disingenuous.

Nelson up six on Mack: Another poll shows Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) nipping at Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-Fla.) heels in the Florida Senate race.

The poll from GOP firm Wilson-Perkins-Allen, which was not conducted for a candidate or campaign committee, shows Nelson leading Mack 45 percent to 39 percent.

Interestingly, Mack’s name recognition is 90 percent, far higher than one would expect from a congressman in such a big state. Of course, he does share a name with a former senator, his father.

Both men have good personal favorability numbers; Nelson’s are 48 percent favorable and 29 percent unfavorable, while Mack’s are 39 percent favorable and 20 percent unfavorable.

A Quinnipiac poll last week showed an even closer race, with Nelson leading 42 percent to 40 percent.

Fixbits:

Cain, whose aides can’t seem to avoid getting physical with the press, will now be getting Secret Service protection, according to CNN.

Cain will no longer do videotaped interviews with editorial boards, but his campaign says it has nothing to do with his poor performance in Milwaukee. Um, yeah.

Cain says he would be happy with second place in New Hampshire.

Dueling FOIA requests from Romney and the Democratic National Committee.

Ed Rollins, former campaign manager to Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee, takes the job he was meant for: Fox News commentator.

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) releases a poll showed her leading primary opponent and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey 52 percent to 16 percent.

Backers of the California gay marriage ban known as Proposition 8 can appeal a lower court decision that overturned the ban, a judge ruled Thursday.

Must-reads:

Gingrich lugs loads of personal, political baggage” — Nancy Benac, AP

Gingrich think tank collected millions from health care industry” — Dan Eggen, Washington Post

 
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