American Family Survey is valuable contribution to strengthening families

For those who believe, as I do, that strong families are fundamental to an orderly society and to the success of America, the latest American Family Survey is an important snapshot of family life in our country.

Designed and commissioned by the Deseret News and the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University, the survey is annually one of the most in-depth studies of American families. It provides plenty of data for social scientists and policymakers to consider as they seek ways to strengthen families.
The survey’s advisory committee includes Karlyn Bowman (American Enterprise Institute), Marcy Carlson (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Richard Reeves (The Brookings Institution), and Brad Wilcox (American Enterprise Institute and the University of Virginia).

The 86-page report was released on Tuesday and is available at That site also includes Deseret News stories digging into study data and results.

A press release notes:

The 6th annual survey of 3,000 American adults reveals the starkly different concerns of Republican and Democratic families in this age of racial tension, polarization and a pandemic. It was administered online by YouGov, fielded from July 3 to July 13, and the margin of error is ±1.9%.

In addition to questions about the general health and behavior of American families, this year’s survey discussed various topics relevant to the presidential election and one of the most turbulent years in American history. The results reveal a number of important details about how American families are responding to the pandemic and racial unrest across the country.

“While many Americans answer a number of questions on race, politics, and the pandemic along ideological lines, there is some overlap on questions about the role of government, and there is also a silver lining to the pain of the pandemic,” said Boyd Matheson, Deseret News Opinion Editor. “Most notably, American families have revealed that despite the turmoil of this year, they are resilient. The pandemic is not destroying American families. In fact, it’s making them stronger. More than half (56%) of those surveyed have said the pandemic has made spouses appreciate their partner more. Only 1 in 10 disagreed.”

“That’s good news for a nation facing one obstacle after another,” added Deseret News editor Doug Wilks. “Strong families are upstream from a healthy, vibrant, and civilized society. And that gives me hope – despite disagreements on how to solve the challenges in front of us – that America will get through this.”

The extensive survey focuses on questions related to race, politics, the economy, and COVID-19. Among the highlights in the Politics and Race section:

  *   Does your race matter more than ever before? An increasing number of Americans say yes. Overall, Americans are more likely to say their race is an important part of their identity (37%) than in 2018 (29%). White Americans say this (24% today, 19% in 2018), Black Americans say this (79% today, 73% in 2018), and Hispanic Americans say this (51% today, 41% in 2018).

  *   Three-quarters of Americans (73%) have discussed Black Lives Matter or police brutality with their families. Of that 73%, nearly all (91%) have discussed it with their spouse or partner, and most (66%) have even discussed BLM or police brutality with their children.

  *   Only 4% of Republicans say racial inequality is one of the top three most important problems facing families. But 33% of Democrats say it is.

  *   Most white Republicans don’t believe Black families face more obstacles. When asked, “Do Black families in America face obstacles that white families don’t?” only 23% of white Republicans surveyed believe Black families face an uphill climb in America; whereas 85% of white Democrats do believe Black families have it harder in America.

  *   Also, while 85% of white Democrats believe “Black families face obstacles that white families don’t,” fewer nonwhite Democrats (74%) say this is true.

  *   More Biden voters than Trump voters say their desire to vote has increased “in light of recent events” (racial unrest and the pandemic). 61% of Biden voters say their desire to vote has increased this year, vs. 53% of Trump voters who say the same.

  *   People are talking politics more, and having sex less, the latest family survey reveals. The percentage of couples saying they were having sex at least weekly has decreased every year since 2015 (59% in 2015, but only 49% in 2020). But talking about political or social issues together has gone from 61% in 2015 to 73% in 2020.

  *   Parents in America overwhelmingly do not want their children to choose a career in politics. Only 1 in 10 say they would be happy if their child pursued a political path. In 1995, more than triple that amount (32%) said they would be pleased if their son pursued politics, and 26% said they would be pleased if their daughter did.

  *   Fewer Americans want to run for office themselves. Only 8% say their desire to run for office has increased as a result of current events, but substantially more (25%) say their desire has decreased.