The ultimate 2016 poll: Public no longer believes in Santa

We’ve learned some hard truths about ourselves this year. Perhaps we’ve begun to face the hard truth about Santa, too.

When PPP did a poll on the holidays immediately following the 2012 election, 52% of Americans said they believed in Santa Claus, to 45% who said they did not. We’ve re-upped that question in the wake of this year’s election, and belief in Santa Claus has gone all the way down to 31% with non-belief shooting up to 59%. It’s not even just Democrats dispirited about the results of the election who have lost their belief in Santa. Republicans (52% in 2012, 34% now), Democrats (55% in 2012, 32% now), and independents (47% in 2012, 27% now) have all had their belief in Santa dashed in pretty similar numbers.

A majority of Republicans may not believe in Santa but if he does exist they know one thing about him- he’s white. GOP voters nationally by a 54-6 margin say that Santa is white, with 41% having no opinion one way or another. 57% of Democrats have no opinion on this question and those who do are relatively divided, with 26% saying Santa’s white to 18% who say he’s not.

With faith in many American institutions near 25-year lows, it’s understandable that our faith in North Pole institutions would also suffer. Declining cultural confidence is a western contagion without borders: It starts with Brexit, it spreads to America with Trump, and pretty soon you’re no longer putting out a plate of cookies by the chimney on Christmas Eve.

This result is more surprising, although maybe it shouldn’t be:


Four years ago, PPP got a 44/28 split on the question of whether Santa is a Democrat or Republican. Go figure that in our politically topsy-turvy time, with “globalist” Democrats pounding the table for free trade while Santa Trump promises a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill and no wavering on entitlements, it’s not clear which party currently better embodies the spirit of handing out goodies.

Here’s a little something to help rejuvenate our Christmas spirit. Exit question: I can sort of buy, per this poll, that five percent of the public views Christmas unfavorably, but five percent also views “It’s a Wonderful Life” unfavorably? What? If we can’t achieve unanimity on that, there’ll never be peace on Earth.

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