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Americans Like Washington, Lincoln A Lot More Than Their Holiday

Monday, February 21, 2011

Americans have an overwhelmingly favorable view of George Washington, the nation’s first president, but very few consider his birthday which we honor today as a very important holiday.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 91% of American Adults hold at least a somewhat favorable opinion of the so-called Father of Our Country, a sentiment little changed for nearly four years. This includes 53% who regard him Very Favorably. Just four percent view Washington unfavorably. (To see survey question wording, click here.

But only nine percent (9%) rate President’s Day as one of America’s most important holidays, down slightly from findings the last couple years. Thirty-one percent (31%) see it as one of the country’s least important holidays, while 58% consider it somewhere in between the two.

By a two-to-one margin (60% to 30%), in fact, Americans think Abraham Lincoln had a more lasting impact on U.S. history than Washington did, which perhaps gives some indication why many states also celebrate Lincoln’s February birthday on President’s Day. Still, this is a slight improvement for the first president from a year ago. The official federal holiday only honors Washington.

Ninety-three percent (93%) of adults view Lincoln at least somewhat favorably, with 68% who have a Very Favorable opinion of the Civil War president. Again, only four percent (4%) have an unfavorable feeling about him. This is virtually identical to findings in the July 2007 survey when Washington and Lincoln also ran neck-and-neck in terms of favorability.

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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on February 17-18, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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