Werth Poll

January 2017 Werth Poll, Part 3 of 3: Livin’ the Dream?

April 7, 2017

Statue of Liberty on a Sunny Day

We’ve all heard about the “American Dream” since we were old enough to consider what it meant. Yet for nearly 80 years since the term first arose, a single definition has remained elusive.

Most sources credit James Truslow Adams as the first to use it. In his 1931 book “The Epic of America,” he wrote about “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”

But what is a richer and fuller life? What is opportunity?

We wanted to know how Ohioans view living the dream, so we asked this question as part of the First Quarter 2017 Werth Poll:  “Which of the following would you say is the best example of fulfilling the American Dream? Is it home ownership, a good education, a job you like, financial security or freedom to do the things you enjoy?”

We weren’t surprised when “financial security” topped the list at 27.3 percent of respondents. But we were intrigued that more than half – 53 percent – found other things more important.

Nearly 20 percent defined the dream as the freedom to do things they enjoy, while 18.6 percent defined it as a “good education.”

Fewer than 7 percent called “home ownership” the best example of living the American Dream. And a mere 8.4 percent defined the best example as “a job you like.”

Those 18-29 were most likely to define the dream as “freedom to do the things you enjoy” (31.3 percent), while those 60 and older (12.8 percent) were least likely.

When it came to whether a good education defines the American Dream, African-American Ohioans put a far higher premium on it (27.7 percent) than did White Ohioans (16.8 percent).

The financial security question did spur some interesting results. Fewer of those 60 and older (24.5 percent) put financial security first than did respondents overall. Republicans (29.2 percent) put a higher value on financial security than Democrats (26.7 percent), but just barely. Far more women put a higher value on financial security (31.9 percent) than men (22.3 percent). And African-Americans (24.8 percent) and Whites (27.9 percent) differed only slightly.

Our conclusion? James Truslow Adams was smart to leave the definition vague.

Below are details of the survey:

Ohio Statewide Survey

1/24/17 – 1/28/2017
N=801, +/- 3.46%
General Election Voters
(percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding)

For past results, visit our Werth Poll page at http://www.paulwerth.com/category/werth-poll

2017 werth poll crosstabs