Public: Air Force Most Important, Marines Most Prestigious, Among Five Branches

by David W. Moore

Major variations by age

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- As Memorial Day approaches, a day for honoring members of the armed forces who lost their lives in battle, a recent Gallup poll shows that Americans perceive the U.S. Air Force as the most important branch of the military, while the U.S. Marine Corps gets the nod as the most prestigious branch.

Most prestigious branch

According to an April 22-24 Gallup poll, 39% of Americans say the Marines is the most prestigious branch of the armed forces in the country, followed by the Air Force, at 28%. The U.S. Army and U.S. Navy tie for third place, each at 13%. Only 1% of the public names the U.S. Coast Guard as the most prestigious branch of the military.

Which Branch of the Armed Forces
Is the Most Prestigious?
April 22-24, 2002

These results are little changed from last year, with the number of Americans mentioning the Marines up by three percentage points and those mentioning the Air Force down by four points. The net result of these minor changes, however, is a more decisive result favoring the Marines -- an 11-point margin over the Air Force this year, compared with a four-point margin last year.

The poll also shows that the percentage of people citing each of the four major services as the most prestigious varies considerably by age. (There is little difference by age in the percentage mentioning the Coast Guard -- just 1% to 2% in each age category.)

Most Prestigious Branch
Compared by Age
April 22-24, 2002

The Marine Corps is the clear winner for prestige among the lowest age group (ages 18 to 29), but as people get older, the gap between the Marines and the Air Force disappears. In the oldest age group (ages 65 and older), the two services are tied.

Most important branch

The poll also found that 36% of Americans rate the Air Force as the most important, far ahead of the other services. Just 18% rated the Army as most important, 17% the Navy and 16% the Marines. Another 10% of Americans volunteer that all of the branches are equally important. Again, the results are little changed from last year, when the Air Force also came in first, far ahead of the other branches.

Which Branch of the Armed Forces
Is the Most Important?
April 22-24, 2002

As with the most prestigious question, the responses to the importance question are highly related to age. Americans under age 30 see little difference between the importance of the Air Force and Army, with the Navy and Marine Corps not far behind. But the older the age category, the better the Air Force does, while the other branches trail far behind.

Most Important Branch
Compared by Age
April 22-24, 2002

Survey Methods

The latest results are based on telephone interviews with 1,009 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted April 22-24, 2002. The two questions reported here were each based on half of the sample. For results based on the 491 national adults in the Form A half sample and 518 national adults in the Form B half sample, the maximum margins of sampling error are ±4%.

 

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Just off the top of your head, which of the five branches of the armed forces in this country would you say is the most prestigious and has the most status in our society today -- [ROTATED: the Air Force, the Army, the Navy, the Marines, (or) the Coast Guard]?

BASED ON --491-- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A

 

Air Force


Army


Navy


Marines

Coast Guard

All same (vol.)

No
opinion

2002 Apr 22-24

28

13

13

39

1

4

2

2001 May 18-20 ^

32

11

14

36

--

4

3

^

WORDING: Just off the top of your head, which of the four major branches of the armed forces in this country would you say is the most prestigious and has the most status in our society today -- [ROTATED: the Air Force, the Army, the Navy, (or) the Marines]?



 

Just off the top of your head, which of the five branches of the armed forces in this country would you say is the most important to our national defense today -- [ROTATED: the Air Force, the Army, the Navy, the Marines, (or) the Coast Guard]?

BASED ON --518-- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B

 

Air Force


Army


Navy


Marines

Coast Guard

All same (vol.)

No
opinion

2002 Apr 22-24

36

18

17

16

1

10

2

2001 May 18-20 ^

42

18

15

14

--

9

2

^

WORDING: Just off the top of your head, which of the four major branches of the armed forces in this country would you say is the most important to our national defense today-- [ROTATED: the Air Force, the Army, the Navy, (or) the Marines]?



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