[Media Alert] 90% of Americans do not want their kids to choose politics as a profession, Deseret News/BYU preview 2020 American Family Survey

Sep. 10, 2020
SALT LAKE CITY — Deseret News and Brigham Young University will release the findings of their annual American Family Survey on Sept. 22 via an online event broadcast from the Brookings Institution. 

The 6th annual survey of a diverse group of 3,000 Americans charts current trends in American family life while also analyzing particularly relevant cultural and political issues. 

“Each year this survey provides unique insights into American life, but this year it’s particularly interesting because the survey includes some of the only data citing the actual effects of the pandemic on American families,” said Deseret News Opinion Editor Boyd C. Matheson. “During a divisive and consequential presidential election would-be political leaders would be wise to follow the thinking of the American family.”

In addition to questions about the general health and behavior of American families, this year’s survey examines various topics relevant to the presidential election and one of the most turbulent years in American history.  

This year’s study stands out as it reveals a number of important details about how American families are responding to the pandemic and racial unrest across the country. 

The survey looks at various topics and questions related to COVID-19, race, politics and the economy, such as: 

  • How motivated are Biden vs. Trump supporters to vote in light of recent current events?
  • How has the pandemic affected families?
  • Are Americans satisfied with local, state and federal responses to the pandemic?
  • Are marriages more or less healthy because of the pandemic?
  • Is race becoming more or less important to Americans’ identities?
  • How frequently have families protested and discussed Black Lives Matter?
  • How important do Americans think racial inequality is when it comes to issues that families face?
  • How are racial obstacles perceived by white and Black Americans, Republicans and Democrats, including by white Democrats?
  • Who in America is most likely to protest?
  • Are parents more concerned about their sons or their daughters becoming successful adults?

As an example of the type of interesting observations drawn from the survey, this year’s analysis will reveal that 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.


What’s more, of the adults that were polled in the survey, fewer Americans want to run for office themselves. Only 8.1% say their desire to run for office has increased as a result of current events, but substantially more (25.1%) say their desire has decreased. 


The American Family Survey will also reveal that minorities believe their chances for becoming president are good. In fact, more Black and Hispanic parents believe their kids can grow up to be president than do white parents: 

  • 35% of Black families say their son could become president and even more believe their daughter could (40%). 
  • Among Hispanics, 33% say their sons could become the leader of the free world, and 27% believe their daughters could. 
  • But among whites, only 23% say their son could, and 26% say their daughter could.

The full and final results of the 2020 American Family Survey will be made available on Sept. 22 at 11 a.m. EDT, at an event streamed from the Brookings Institution. Sign up to attend the briefing.


Those interested in finding out more about what American families are thinking during a divisive presidential election, turbulent economy, social unrest and a global pandemic can find out more information at www.Deseret.com/AFS as well as review content from previous years’ surveys. 


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Take a look at this first bit of multimedia from Deseret News discussing the early data and the important information that will be fully revealed when the final survey is available on Sept. 22.


NOTE: Boyd C. Matheson is available for comment. Write Press@theKcompany.co.


The American Family Survey is an annual nationwide study of a diverse sample of 3,000 Americans designed by Deseret News and the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University and conducted by YouGov. Now in its sixth year, the survey is designed to understand the experiences of Americans in their relationships, marriages and families, and how those experiences relate to a variety of public policy issues. The survey’s advisory committee includes Karlyn Bowman (American Enterprise Institute), Marcy Carlson (University of Virginia), Richard Reeves (The Brookings Institution), and Brad Wilcox (American Enterprise Institution and University of Virginia).