50 surprising things Americans actually agree on
Nowadays, Americans seem to disagree on everything — even what our country stands for. But that's not true. On many issues — think spending, law enforcement, the military, even abortion — a majority of Americans are actually in agreement.
Here are 50 surprising topics where most Americans find common ground. We used YouGov polling data — surveys, polls, and trackers — to compile our list. All surveys took place between January 2022 to September 2022. For each survey, YouGov interviewed a mix of 1,500 people whose ages, genders, races and education levels correlated with the demographics of the greater U.S. population.
So what is it that we Americans agree on? The topics range from money (in lots of cases, money) to politics to food. And in every case, at least 60% of Americans were in agreement.
Teachers should get more pay
Between school shootings, the COVID-19 pandemic, LGBTQ+ policies and controversies over race-based content taught in schools, U.S. teachers have been through a lot recently. And also: They're chronically underpaid.
Most Americans are in favor of paying them more. In fact, 73% think teachers should be paid more.
There should be policies preventing landlords from increasing rent
A pandemic-era policy in 2020 prevented landlords from evicting tenants. After that policy expired, rent for many skyrocketed.
Most Americans (61%) either strongly or somewhat support policies that would prevent landlords from raising rent.
Mitch McConnell isn't popular
YouGov likes to track Americans' opinions about major political figures, such as Mitch McConnell, who is the Republican minority leader in the U.S. Senate.
McConnell is one of the least popular political figures — 65% of Americans have an unfavorable view of him as of Sept. 19, 2022.
Job security isn't a big worry
Americans tend to have a lot of financial worries — debt, inflation, low salary and rising housing costs.
But most Americans aren't currently worried about job security. Of those polled as of Sept. 19, 2022, 61% say they're not concerned about losing their job, reflecting the tight labor market.
Spending on public housing should increase
With rent and mortgages increasing, along with homelessness, more people are turning to public housing, which is provided and paid for by the government.
Believe it or not, 60% of Americans support increasing spending on public housing.
The government should offer medical-debt forgiveness
Americans remain divided on the latest push from the Biden administration to forgive student loan debt, but they like another kind of debt forgiveness: for medical debt.
In fact, 67% of people support the government offering medical-debt forgiveness, which makes them more supportive of that than any other kind of debt.
Inflation is serious
Everything seems to cost more than it used to these days. Nobody likes paying more for things, especially when Americans say their pay isn't keeping up with inflation.
It's no wonder that 88% of Americans believe that inflation is a huge issue where they live.
Social welfare programs are fine
Social welfare programs are often demonized by GOP politicians, but the majority of Americans overwhelmingly support those programs.
When broken down by government benefit program, 79% of Americans have favorable views of Social Security, 79% have favorable views of Medicare, 77% have favorable views of disability insurance, 76% have favorable views of Medicaid, 74% have favorable views of SNAP (food stamps), 71% have favorable views of TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), 71% have favorable views of unemployment insurance, and 67% have favorable views of public housing assistance.
We see too many political ads
Some countries have legal limits on candidate ads. For instance, Canada's campaign season is typically less than three months; in Mexico, it's 90 days; in Argentina, it's 60 days; and in France, election campaigning is usually about two weeks long.
Meanwhile in America, candidates announce they're running up to two years in advance.
But that doesn't mean we like it. The majority of Americans, 64%, believe that there are too many political ads.
Abortion should be legal in many cases
On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which had legalized abortion federally. Since then, many states have outlawed or restricted abortion.
But most Americans disagree with the court. According to this poll, 64% believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases — and 59% think that Roe v. Wade shouldn't have been overturned.
Yes for the Presidential Records Act
The Presidential Records Act, which say presidential records must go to the National Archives after a president leaves office, has certainly been in the news. Former President Donald Trump is in a legal battle with the Department of Justice over that very issue.
Of those surveyed, 69% support the Presidential Records Act.
Illegal immigration is a problem
A solid 61% believe that illegal immigration is a problem in the United States.
Furthermore, 59% of Americans see the situation at the border as a crisis.
Lowering flags to half-staff for Elizabeth II was the right choice
Queen Elizabeth II died Sept. 8, 2022, and Britain entered a period of mourning. But did that affect the United States?
A solid 64% of Americans strongly or somewhat supported lowering flags to half-staff in her honor. However, the same survey said that 78% were not affected or were only affected a little by the death of the late queen, and 80% did not cry at the queen's passing — so maybe we weren't that affected.
PAC donors expect payback
Many campaign donations go to super PACs — wealthy political action committees that advertise on behalf of a candidate.
Most Americans are suspicious of this, and 79% of them believe that the only reason someone would donate $1 million to a super PAC is because they want something big in return.
Favorable views of law enforcement and the military
Americans, by a large majority, have a favorable view of law enforcement and the U.S. military. Broken down by entity: 68% have favorable views of local police, 65% have favorable views of state police, 62% have favorable views of county sheriffs, and 60% have favorable views of U.S. Border Patrol.
For the military, favorability ratings are even higher, and 77% have good opinions of the Navy, the Coast Guard, the Army and the Air Force — while 78% have favorable opinions of the Marines.
The U.S. flag is a positive symbol
In the U.S., opinions are mixed on the gay pride flag and the "thin blue line" flag, which indicates supporting police.
There's one flag, however, that garners a positive view from 77% of Americans: the stars and stripes. It's the one flag we agree on.
People don't want another civil war
Some people have aired fears of a second U.S. civil war. But that doesn't mean that people think it's a good thing.
When people were asked if a civil war in the next 10 years would be good or bad, 69% believed it would be bad. For a civil war in the next 50 years, 66% of people still believe it would be a bad thing.
The president should never lie
What's the most important presidential quality? For the vast majority of Americans — 89% — it's honesty, followed by "fighting for what's right" at 88%.
Interestingly, when those responses were divided between Republicans and Democrats, the results were about the same either way; those attributes are important to all of us despite any political differences.
It should be legal to record police
A whopping 86% of people think recording cops on the job should be legal.
While 32% of survey participants think there should be a legal limit on how close you can be to an officer, 50% believe it should be legal in all cases.
American independence was the right call
We wouldn't have a United States without a war of independence.
A great majority of Americans — 78%, in fact — believe that declaring independence from what is now the United Kingdom was a fantastic idea.
Gas-powered cars contribute to climate change
Americans have vastly different opinions on climate change — what causes it, what we should do about it, and how big of a problem it actually is.
But, the majority of Americans do believe gasoline-powered cars at least contribute to climate change. Around 34% believe that it contributes a lot, while 41% believe that it contributes a little.
Catholic priests should be allowed to marry
A full 69% of Americans believe that Roman Catholic priests, who currently take vows of celibacy, should be able to get married.
In fact, 64% believe that the celibacy vow is a factor in Catholic Church child sex abuse cases.
It may seem that a lot of Americans distrust big pharma — the opioid crisis hasn't helped — but most of us, at least, believe that antidepressants are always (6%) usually (26%) or sometimes (40%) effective at treating depression.
Since pandemic-borne isolation began in 2020, mental health has been a growing concern, with rising rates of suicide and depression.
9/11 attacks changed the world
Did the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks change the world? Most people believe so, and 40% of people believed it changed a lot, while 41% believe it changed a little.
When asked if it changed America specifically, the results were even higher: 61% believe it changed the country completely, while 27% believe it changed a little, for a total of 88%.
The Founding Fathers would be disappointed
Would the Founding Fathers approve of how things are going in the United States today? Well, 65% of Americans don't think so — though there are likely a wide variety of reasons why.
The same survey asked about the Bill of Rights, and found that 86% of Americans believe the First Amendment is "very important," and 57% consider it the most important amendment.
Russia is our enemy
We've never formally been at war with Russia, but we have a tense relationship dating back to the formation of the Soviet Union. As of Sept. 19, 2022, 85.3% of Americans believe that Russia is an enemy of the U.S.
These numbers have risen since Russia declared war on Ukraine under President Putin.
White-supremacist extremism is a concern
Out of all types of political extremist threats, the one Americans say they fear the most is white supremacist extremism.
Of those surveyed, 43% are very concerned about white-supremacist extremism while 19% are somewhat concerned.
Protecting civil liberties
What's more important, safety or liberty? For freedom-loving Americans, the choice is easy: We should focus more on protecting civil rights and liberties than protecting the country from terrorism.
This conversation has been ongoing since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
Texas has the best BBQ
Most Americans agree that they think of Texas when they think of good barbecue. Texas is known for brisket and smoked sausages in particular.
The Lone Star State outranked Tennessee, Louisiana, Kansas and South Carolina for the top state.
And it's not even close — 73% think of Texas for the best barbecued meats, while the second-place winner, Tennessee, is only at 37% for the same question.
The president should unite the country
The United States may feel divided, but maybe we don't want to be. In a survey about important presidential qualities, 87% feel that a president's ability to unite the country is extremely important.
Of those polled, 67% believe it is very important.
Violent crime is a serious issue
Fear of violent crime is a very serious issue for 60% of Americans, while 19% believe that it's a somewhat serious issue.
Sadly, they may be onto something: Homicides in many cities rose in 2021.
The U.K. is our friend
The U.S. has fought two wars with the United Kingdom, but those grievances are long past — just look at President Joe Biden here with the U.K.'s newest prime minister, Liz Truss.
As of September 2022, 85.7% of Americans believe that the United Kingdom is a friend of the USA.
Racism is real, and it's a problem
Of Americans surveyed, 68% believe that racism is at least somewhat of a problem.
Meanwhile, 59% believe that race relations are bad at the moment.
Most people are patriotic
Whenever there are heated tensions in political debates, folks may accuse the opposition of hating America.
But, that's not true. In fact, a whopping 76% of Americans consider themselves at least somewhat patriotic.
Limits should be set on rent increases
How much is too much in rent? In some cities, a studio apartment costs $2,000 a month or more.
A huge majority of Americans — 79% — support setting limits on the size of rent increases.
Our country is on the wrong track
There are a lot of disagreements on what our nation's priorities should be.
However, most Americans believe that our country is on the wrong track. As of Sept. 19, 2022, 63.5% reported that they believe things in the U.S. are generally on the wrong track. As to why and how — no definitive agreements.
Contraception should be legal nationwide
Ever since Roe v. Wade was overturned, some have worried that access to birth control might be next. Some politicians want to pass a law that formally protects access to contraception throughout the U.S.
And 64% of Americans would support that; 21% aren't sure and only 15% are against it.
U.S. representatives should compromise and be bipartisan
Americans seem firmly rooted in Democratic or Republican camps. So do we expect our representatives to hold firm to their values? Toe the party line?
No. Most of us want representatives to compromise with the other party, and be bipartisan. In fact, 60% want their representative to compromise more.
We should defend Canada in case of war
Our neighbors to the north haven't had any major issues with us since the War of 1812. Relations have been pleasant for the past century or so.
So what would happen if another nation threatened to take over Canada by armed force? Most Americans — 64% — would support using its force to rescue Canada.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great person
Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968. But his legacy lives on.
Of all public figures included in one particular YouGov survey, he ranks the highest by far — 77% have a favorable view of King as of July 2022.
China is our enemy
Tensions with China have risen, especially in the past three years. As of Sept. 19, 2022, 79.9% of Americans consider China to be an enemy. In December 2017, only 43.5% believed that.
Americans have grown distrustful of President Xi Jinping, seen here, in relation to the COVID-19 outbreaks, a friendship with Russia, and treatment of Taiwan.
Americans under 65 should be screened for anxiety
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended in September 2022 that all adults under 65 should be screened for anxiety and depression. They didn't find sufficient evidence that it would be effective for people over 65.
Americans by-and-large agree. In fact, 63% somewhat agree or strongly agree that these screenings should take place.
A lack of child care is a problem for working moms
If child care access and affordability feel a lot harder for you these days, you're not alone.
Americans agree that a lack of child care often prevents mothers working outside the home when they want to.
True crime content helps us understand criminal justice
Thanks to podcasting, TV shows and documentaries, true crime content seems to be everywhere.
But is that a good thing? Most people have a positive view of true-crime content, and 63% of Americans believe that it gives people a better understanding of how our nation's criminal justice system functions.
Writers can depict characters with backgrounds other than their own
In the publishing world, there's often a lot of talk about whether, say, straight authors should write gay or lesbian characters, whether cis writers can write trans characters, or whether White writers can write people of color.
However, most Americans accept authors sometimes depict characters with diverse backgrounds. The survey revealed that 58% believe a female author can write about a male character; 59% believe that a gay or lesbian author can depict a straight character; 57% think it's okay for a White person to depict a racial minority character; and 61% think it's okay for a member of a racial minority to depict White people.
Monarchy would be bad for us
Despite the photo scene here in London after the passing of Queen Elizabeth, most Brits generally accept the monarchy.
Not so in the U.S. Of Americans surveyed, 67% think a monarchy would be bad here; 12% say it would be neither good nor bad, and only 8% think it would be good.
Drug abuse is a serious issue
America has been ravaged by an opioid epidemic, and it affects every state. So it's no wonder that so many of us consider it a major problem in our communities.
Of those surveyed, 73% believe it's a serious problem.
Most Americans approve of Barack Obama
The most popular American politician isn't even in office anymore. As of July 2022, former President Barack Obama is the highest ranked political figure in the country — 61% approve of him.
No other political figure has a favorability rating higher than 53%.
Senators who want to block legislation should do it in person
The filibuster is a news mainstay, especially anytime a big piece of legislation and faces one.
But most Americans don't support the way the filibuster currently functions in the Senate — in fact, 61% think that senators who want to block legislation via the filibuster should have to do so by speaking in person to hold the floor of the Senate.
The country has grown more partisan
The last decade has seen political divides in America grow more tense, and 71% of Americans believe the country is more divided and more partisan than ever over the past few years.
But if these results prove anything, that might just be an illusion. We may be less divided than we think.