What are Americans Thankful for this Thanksgiving? Not the Economy.

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – November 21, 2013 – Thanksgiving means different things to different people. For some it’s all about the parade. For others, it’s a chance to see family and friends. For a few, it’s become about the sales and strategizing on how to hit the best ones. But for many it’s about giving thanks, and more than two in five Americans (43%) say they have about as much to be thankful for as a few years ago, while 38% say they have more to be thankful for than a few years ago. Just over one in ten U.S. adults (14%) say they have less to be thankful for than a few years ago.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,368 adults surveyed online between October 16 and 21, 2013 by Harris Interactive.

    This year, fewer Americans feel they have more to be thankful for than said so in 2010 (41%), but it’s about the same as in 1974 (when this question was first asked) and 1980 (38% and 37%, respectively). However, in 1983 half of Americans said they had more to be thankful for (50%), which is more than in any other year this has been asked.

    Looking at some specific items, Americans have a lot to be thankful for. Over three-quarters of Americans are thankful because of the health of their family (85%), because of their family relationships (84%) and because technology makes it easy to stay in touch with family and friends (76%). Interestingly, in 1980 almost all Americans said they were thankful for the health of their family (96%) and because of family relationships (95%).

    While three in five Americans (62%) are thankful for their own personal economic situation, this is down from 66% in 2010 and 81% in 1980. Three in five U.S. adults (60%) are thankful for their work situation, compared to 65% who said this in 2010 and 78% who said so in 1980. What Americans are not thankful for is the economic situation of the United States, as 62% say they are not thankful for this while 17% are thankful. In 1984, 78% were thankful for the economic situation of the U.S. and in 1988 59% were thankful; in 2010 that number was 23%.

    The Turkey!

    And, for many Americans, Thanksgiving is all about the food. When asked which of these traditional food dishes people look forward to the most, two in five U.S. adults (40%) say it’s the turkey while one in five (21%) look forward to the stuffing. Smaller numbers look forward to pumpkin pie (13%), potatoes whether mashed (9%) or sweet (7%) and the cranberry sauce, jelly or relish (4%). Men are more likely than women to look forward to the turkey (46% vs. 35%), while women are more likely to look forward to the pumpkin pie (14% vs. 10%).

    While cooking there are always the grumblings about wouldn’t it be easier to just go out for dinner, the truth is that over three-quarters of Americans (78%) disagree with that and say they would rather eat in a restaurant than cook Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe it’s because of the leftovers, as nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults (65%) agree that even more important than Thanksgiving dinner is eating the leftovers.

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    TABLE 1

    THANKFULNESS

    This Thanksgiving, do you feel you will have more to be thankful for than a few years ago, less to be thankful for, or about as much to be thankful for as you had then?

    Base: All adults

     

    1974

    1980

    1983

    2010

    2013

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    About as much to be thankful for

    45

    47

    35

    41

    43

    More to be thankful for

    38

    37

    50

    41

    38

    Less to be thankful for

    15

    15

    13

    13

    14

    Not sure

    2

    1

    2

    5

    5

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; Prior to 2010, this question was asked by telephone

     

    TABLE 2

    THANKFULNESS – By Generation and Gender

    This Thanksgiving, do you feel you will have more to be thankful for than a few years ago, less to be thankful for, or about as much to be thankful for as you had then?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Generation

    Gender

    Echo Boomers 18-36

    Gen. X

    36-48

    Baby Boomers

    49-67

    Matures

    68+

    Men

    Women

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    About as much to be thankful for

    43

    38

    41

    47

    50

    47

    40

    More to be thankful for

    38

    44

    41

    35

    31

    34

    42

    Less to be thankful for

    14

    12

    10

    16

    17

    15

    12

    Not sure

    5

    6

    8

    3

    2

    4

    5

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 3

    THANKFUL FOR SPECIFIC ITEMS

    This Thanksgiving, will you feel thankful or not, for each of the following?

    Base: All adults

     

    Thankful

    Not Thankful

    Not sure

    %

    %

    %

    Because of the health of your family

    85

    9

    6

    Because of your family relationships

    84

    10

    7

    Because technology makes it easy to stay in touch with family and friends

    76

    11

    13

    Because good technology is easily accessible

    68

    16

    16

    Because of your own personal economic situation

    62

    26

    11

    Because of your work situation

    60

    25

    15

    Because it is safe to walk on the streets

    53

    28

    18

    Because of the way people treat each other

    35

    44

    21

    Because of the economic situation in the U.S.

    17

    62

    20

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 4

    THANKFUL – TREND

    This Thanksgiving, will you feel thankful or not, for each of the following?

    Summary of those saying thankful

    Base: All adults

     

    1980

    1983

    1984

    1985

    1988

    2010

    2013

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Because of the health of your family

    96

    NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

    86

    85

    Because of your family relationships

    95

    NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

    86

    84

    Because technology makes it easy to stay in touch with family and friends

    NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

    78

    76

    Because good technology is easily accessible

    NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

    69

    68

    Because of your own personal economic situation

    81

    NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

    66

    62

    Because of your work situation

    78

    NA

    NA

    NA

    NA

    65

    60

    Because it is safe to walk on the streets

    NA

    NA

    50

    NA

    NA

    63

    53

    Because of the way people treat each other

    NA

    42

    55

    NA

    46

    45

    35

    Because of the economic situation of the U.S.

    32

    58

    78

    69

    59

    23

    17

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; NA signifies this was not asked in that year; Prior to 2010 this question was asked by telephone


    TABLE 5

    THANKSGIVING DINNER

    Thanksgiving dinners have a number of traditional food dishes. Of these, which one would you say you look forward to the most?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Generation

    Gender

    Echo

    Boomers

    (18-36)

    Gen X

    (37-48)

    Baby

    Boomers

    (49-67)

    Matures

    (68+)

    Men

    Women

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    The Turkey

    40

    32

    36

    46

    51

    46

    35

    Stuffing

    21

    19

    20

    22

    21

    20

    21

    Pumpkin Pie

    13

    16

    12

    11

    10

    10

    14

    Mashed Potatoes

    9

    16

    10

    4

    2

    8

    9

    Sweet Potatoes

    7

    8

    7

    6

    7

    5

    9

    Cranberry sauce/relish/jelly

    4

    4

    4

    4

    3

    4

    4

    None of these

    7

    6

    11

    6

    6

    6

    8

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 6

    THANKSGIVING DINNER

    How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

    Base: All adults

     

    AGREE

    (NET)

    Strongly

    agree

    Somewhat

    agree

    DISAGREE

    (NET)

    Somewhat disagree

    Strongly disagree

    Not at all sure

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Even more important than the Thanksgiving dinner is eating the leftovers

    65

    26

    38

    31

    20

    11

    4

    I would much rather eat in a restaurant on Thanksgiving than cook dinner

    20

    9

    10

    78

    15

    63

    2

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between October 16 to 21, 2013 among 2,368 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    J43567

    Q830, 835, 840, 845

    The Harris Poll® #87, November 21, 2013

    By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll and Public Relations Research

    About Harris Interactive

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