America, Land of the Free Not Free From Fear

New Poll Shows Americans Worse Off on Basic Freedoms Outlined by FDR more than 70 Years Ago

Jul 03, 2014, 10:30 ET from Heart+Mind Strategies

WASHINGTON, July 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- This weekend our nation celebrates its 238th year of independence, yet freedom is not ringing from every mountainside in our sweet land of liberty.  More than 70 years ago Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined four freedoms that every person in the world ought to enjoy, including some from the very first amendment of the Constitution: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

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A new poll, released today by Heart+Mind Strategies, asked Americans if we as a country and then the world as a whole are doing better or worse compared to 50 years ago on FDR's four freedoms.  More than seven-in-ten Americans believe that the United States and the world as a whole are worse off in terms of freedom from fear. 

A slight majority of Americans believe the country is doing better on freedom of speech and worship, but the large portion of the population that say worse off may be a warning.  And more than half believe the United States is worse off in terms of freedom from want and freedom from fear.  More than half of Americans believe the world as a whole is doing worse on all four freedoms. The full break out is as follows:

The USA:

+      Freedom of worship  62% Better / 38% Worse
+      Freedom of speech   58% Better / 42% Worse
+      Freedom from want   46% Better / 54% Worse
+      Freedom from fear    30% Better / 70% Worse

The World:

+      Freedom of worship  44% Better / 56% Worse
+      Freedom of speech   47% Better / 53% Worse
+      Freedom from want   35% Better / 65% Worse
+      Freedom from fear     25% Better / 75% Worse

"While most Americans think we are doing better on freedom of worship and freedom of speech in this country, many also see these freedoms undergoing changes or even under threat," said Martina Benedict, a research manager at Heart+Strategies and primary researcher on multiple American freedom related projects.  She continued, "In a recent national study we found, 62% of Americans expressed feeling that freedom of religion is undergoing significant changes—becoming less important and less protected."

Ethnicity appears to significantly affect one's assessment of both the country and the world compared to 50 years ago.  African American and Hispanic Americans have a much more positive outlook on current status—they are much more likely to believe the US and the world are doing better compared to 50 years ago.  Notably, the Civil Rights Movement was at its peak 50 years ago with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Perhaps the relative optimism of these minority groups stems from the increased amount of change sustained over the last 50 years compared to others. For full breakout by ethnicity, click here.

Freedom is the reason this country was established; it is the promise to residents; and it is the aspiration of countless nations. This 4th of July, be mindful of the many freedoms you enjoy and be mindful of others' ability to enjoy the same freedoms—let freedom ring from every mountainside. 


This report presents the findings of a survey conducted among a sample of 1,005 adults comprising 501 men and 504 women 18 years of age and older.

The online omnibus study is conducted twice a week among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,000 adults 18 years of age and older.  This survey was live on June 2-4, 2014.     

Completed interviews are weighted by five variables:  age, sex, geographic region, race and education to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. population, 18 years of age and older.  The raw data are weighted by a custom designed program which automatically develops a weighting factor for each respondent.  Each respondent is assigned a single weight derived from the relationship between the actual proportion of the population based on US Census data with its specific combination of age, sex, geographic characteristics, race and education and the proportion in the sample. 

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. The data have been weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the 18+ population.  Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated.  All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments.

About Heart+Mind Strategies (

We help clients understand the hearts and minds of the people that matter most to their enterprise; and we deliver the strategic decision making insight and advice to transform understanding into measurable success.

We are experts in human decision-making and its impact on marketing decisions and communications across industry and issue categories.  We apply a rigorous framework and an experience-driven set of principles that have elected presidents and prime ministers, strengthened corporations, bolstered declining industries, and reinvigorated global brands.

This point of view illuminates:

  • How and why people make the decisions they do
  • How perceptual equity can translate into bottom-line equity
  • The role and linkage of both reason and emotion in persuasion
  • What it takes to build measurable value


Gretchen Comey

SOURCE Heart+Mind Strategies