Decoding America’s Divide
The 2016 presidential election exposed and exacerbated a widening US divide, turning a spotlight on the many Americans who feel at odds with evolving values and cosmopolitan culture. We explain what brands need to know about this demographic and, more broadly, America's cultural splintering.
Below is a small sample of the insights available to Stylus members in our full Decoding America’s Divide trend report.
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The Hard Facts
- In the US, 72% of Trump supporters believe America’s society and way of life have changed for the worse since the 1950s
- In the US, 65% of consumers believe people can come from any walk of life and make it in America
- Nearly 50% of US millennials think the American dream is dead
- In the US, the likelihood of earning more than one’s parents has fallen from 90% to 50% over the past 50 years
- In America’s new heartland, 54% of professional millennials describe faith as a core value
- In coastal areas of the US, nearly half of professional millennials think faith is not very important at all
- In the US, 27% of millennials identify as liberal Democrats, while only 15% of over-70s do so
- In the US, 81% of mothers expect to follow the American dream (defined as getting an education, finding a job, buying a home and having a family)
- Nine in 10 US mothers are in debt
People who are more in ‘red’ states are largely concerned with what fairness is. They are standing in line and don’t want anybody to cut the line. In ‘blue’ states, people are saying, ‘Some people haven’t had a chance to get in line and they can go ahead of me.’
- Social Clusters
As like-minded Americans cluster together, the demographic and ideological gap between urban centres and rural/small-town America is becoming a gulf. The latter – an older, mostly white and less educated bloc – is growing more conservative as metropolitan Americans – heavily millennial (aged 23 to 36) and Gen X (aged 37 to 52) – embrace increasingly liberal views.
- Clashing Beliefs & Culture Bubbles
Political and geographical polarisation is amplifying cultural divides. As urbanites rapidly adopt more progressive mindsets, another cohort is rejecting these new values. And as mass media has fragmented and social sharing reinforces group beliefs and tastes, each side of the divide tends to inhabit separate cultural chambers.
- The Great Divergence
The American dream, as traditionally defined, is drifting out of reach for many, even as some groups flourish. One economist labels this trend “The Great Divergence”. The brain drain out of rural areas and venture investment concentrated in “blue” states has deepened divides and fuelled frustration, though American optimism hasn’t entirely dimmed.
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