Americans value truth, but many don't think it's a reality


While more than three in four Americans do not believe lying is the American way, two-thirds of U.S. residents say people lie to them, at least, some of the time, according to an exclusive THIRD RAIL WITH OZY-Marist poll. 


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In fact, many Americans think dishonesty exists at even the highest level of American society. A majority of U.S. residents perceive President Donald Trump to be someone who lies, and nearly half assert that foreign leaders should wait to see what President Trump does rather than listen to what he has to say. 

76% of Americans disagree with the statement, “Truth is overrated, lying is the American way,” while 18% consider it an accurate characterization of today’s culture. 


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But many Americans consider lying to be more prevalent than in the past.  66% of Americans, in general, think they are lied to, at least, some of the time, up from 45% thirty years ago when USA Today asked the same question. The proportion of U.S. residents who currently think they are lied to includes 7% who say they are lied to all the time, 9% who believe they do not receive the whole truth most of the time, and 50% who think they are lied to some of the time. Currently, 33% of U.S. residents, down from 53% when USA Today measured this question in 1986, say they are seldom on the receiving end of a lie. 

55% of Americans, including 19% of Republicans, say President Trump is someone who lies.  35% say he is someone who tells the truth.  But, is the president all bluster?  Nearly half of Americans, 49%, including 38% of Republicans, say foreign leaders should wait to see what the president does and not listen to what he says.  35% of residents think global leaders should take President Trump’s statements seriously, and 16% are unsure. 


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Many Americans perceive President Trump as having a negative effect on the United States’ reputation on the world stage, and a majority of residents do not feel safer about what is going on in the world since the president took office.   67% perceive foreign leaders to have less trust in the United States since Mr. Trump became president.  In contrast, 21% of residents nationally believe foreign dignitaries have more trust in the United States.  12% are unsure.  Not surprisingly, most Democrats, 90%, say foreign leaders trust the United States less.  Among Republicans, there is less consensus.  While a plurality of the GOP, 49%, believe global leaders have more trust in the president, 29% think they have less confidence in him, and more than one in five, 22%, are unsure. 

When it comes to their level of safety, 55% of residents nationally report President Trump makes them feel less safe rather than safer, 34%, about what is happening in the world.  Democrats, 88%, are more likely to report they feel less safe while more than seven in ten Republicans, 73%, report they feel safer.  Still, 15% of Republicans say they feel less secure, and 12% are unsure.

Nearly half of Americans, 48%, reveal that they feel more emotionally drained since President Trump took office while 33% say they are more emotionally energized. 19% are unsure. Here, too, a partisan divide exists. 80% of Democrats and a plurality, 46%, of independents report feeling emotionally exhausted. 66% of the GOP report feeling emotionally energized. A gender gap exists. 59% of women, compared with 35% of men, say they are emotionally drained since the beginning of the Trump administration.   


This survey of 519 adults was conducted September 6th, 2017 by The Marist Poll sponsored and funded in partnership with WGBH Boston and OZY Media for the new PBS prime-time, cross-platform debate program Third Rail with OZY. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English by telephone using live interviewers. Mobile telephone numbers were randomly selected based upon a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation from Survey Sampling International. The exchanges were selected to ensure that each region was represented in proportion to its population. Mobile phones are treated as individual devices. After validation of age, personal ownership, and non-business-use of the mobile phone, interviews are typically conducted with the person answering the phone. To increase coverage, this mobile sample was supplemented by respondents reached through random dialing of landline phone numbers from ASDE Survey Sampler, Inc. Within each landline household, a single respondent is selected through a random selection process to increase the representativeness of traditionally under-covered survey populations. Assistance was provided by Luce Research for data collection. The samples were then combined and balanced to reflect the 2013 American Community Survey 1-year estimates for age, gender, income, race, and region. Results are statistically significant within ±4.3 percentage points. There are 431 registered voters. The results for this subset are statistically significant within ±4.7 percentage points. The error margin was not adjusted for sample weights and increases for cross-tabulations. See full poll results »

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