George Washington, the “father of the country” and the first president of the United States, is America’s favorite Founding Father. Thirty-nine percent of Americans pick Washington first among the list of people commonly considered America’s founding fathers. Polymath Ben Franklin comes in second at 21%, followed by the nation’s third president and primary author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, at 15%. Alexander Hamilton comes in a very distant fourth at just 5%, just ahead of John Adams.
In a rare example of partisan unity, Republicans, Democrats and independents all agree on the ranking of the top three founding fathers (though Republicans favor Adams over Hamilton for fourth place). Republicans, Democrats and independents also agree on one other thing: most Americans of all political persuasions think the Founding Fathers would think the country is off on the wrong track rather than headed in the right direction, though they might have different ideas as to why this is so.
This poll was conducted by telephone June 8-13, 2021 among a random sample of 1,008 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cellphones.
The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.
Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers. The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be ±3.5 points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.