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For Presidents Day, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Poll Finds Americans Want Presidents Who Place a High Value on Ethical Leadership, Respect for the Constitution, Peaceful Transitions, and National Unity

Mount Vernon Offers Free Admission for Presidents Day Events to Learn About and Celebrate America’s First President

As Presidents Day and the next presidential election approach, a new poll from George Washington’s Mount Vernon finds 86 percent of Americans want a president who is honest, exhibits ethical leadership, and sets a standard for other politicians to follow. This sentiment holds steady across party lines, with 90 percent of Democrats/Lean Democrats in agreement and 85 percent of Republicans/Lean Republicans in agreement.

Equally important to Americans is a president who will protect a peaceful transition of power between administrations, a precedent set by George Washington. Eighty-six percent of Americans want a president who will ensure a peaceful transition, as do 90 percent of Democrats/Lean Democrats and 83 percent of Republicans/Lean Republicans in agreement.

Americans across party lines also say it is highly important that U.S. presidents promote national unity, respect the Constitution, avoid extreme partisanship, and advocate for a cautious and independent approach to international relations.

These findings are the results of a recent national survey sponsored by The George Washington Presidential Library in publicity partnership with the University of Virginia Center for Politics. The survey measures Americans’ views on the future of democracy. 

To contribute to American’s knowledge of the nation and their first president, admission to George Washington’s Mount Vernon will be free on February 19 and February 22, 2024. Birthday celebrations will include a presidential wreath-laying ceremony, a Naturalization Ceremony for new citizens, a tactical demonstration by the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, a musical demonstration by The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, a rare George Washington Presidential Library Open House, opportunities to meet George Washington, and more.

Mount Vernon President & CEO Doug Bradburn says, “The celebration of George Washington’s birthday is a perfect time to reflect on the qualities of a president that are necessary to ensure our democracy continues to stay strong for generations to come. President Washington played a fundamental role in defining the governing principles that established American democracy, liberty, and stability. Our poll finds that the traits that were indispensable to George Washington remain important to Americans in the 21st century: strong ethics, respect for the Constitution, building national unity, and ensuring a peaceful transfer of power.

“President Washington touched on these issues in his Farewell Address. For example, he said, ‘But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all.’ We hope all Americans will visit Mount Vernon because understanding our past helps guide our nation’s future,” Bradburn said.

A summary of the survey findings is available at Additionally, survey findings are as follows:

  • 84 percent of Americans want a president who advocates that national unity is essential to a functioning democracy and tries to address divisions in today's society.
  • When it comes to respect for the Constitution, 82 percent of Americans want a president who will emphasize adherence to the Constitution and respect for governmental laws, along with the importance of the rule of law and constitutional norms.
  • Eighty percent of Americans say the Founding Fathers deserve respect for how they created and established the nation.
  • The vast majority of Americans (79 percent) value a president who warns about the dangers of extreme partisanship and is committed to compromise and working in a bipartisan manner to achieve the best outcomes for the nation.
  • Seventy-nine percent say it’s important to have a president who will emphasize the importance of balancing federal and state powers to address national issues effectively.
  • Seventy-six percent of Americans agree on the importance of studying the political principles of the Founding Fathers to help inform decisions today.

The survey was conducted from September 15 – 21, 2023, by Project Home Fire with InnovateMR to gather responses from 1020 adults across the United States. The sample is representative of the broader population, with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. The poll used quotas based on U.S. Census Bureau data and poll averages of political party and political ideology to ensure respondents accurately reflect the country’s diverse makeup.

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