On Thanksgiving, Americans plan to stick to the classics

We investigate what pies and sides are most likely to make an appearance at the Thanksgiving table, as well as America's views on holidays more generally, and who sleeps best at night.

The author(s)
  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Editorial Director, US, Public Affairs
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November 16-  With Thanksgiving just weeks away, we find that certain classic side dishes, like mashed potatoes and gravy, are likely to be a part of Thanksgiving feasts across the country. Meanwhile, pumpkin pie beats out other varieties as the Thanksgiving pie of choice.

Looking beyond Thanksgiving, most Americans say they plan to celebrate New Year’s Eve, while other holidays remain more of a question mark.

And finally, we take a look at who sleeps best at night.

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Classic Thanksgiving side dishes

Certain Thanksgiving staples are likely to appear on dinner tables across America. These near-universally appreciated Thanksgiving sides include mashed potatoes, stuffing, some sort of dressing, and rolls or bread.

Other side dishes are more polarizing, emphasizing certain regional differences in food cultivation and customs. For instance, people who live in the Northeast, home to numerous cranberry bogs, are most likely to say their meal will include cranberry sauce (58%).

Green bean casseroles are most likely to be a part of celebrations taking place in Midwestern (46%) and Southern (42%) homes. Meanwhile, Southerners are most likely to be planning to have sweet potato casserole (39%) and macaroni and cheese (40%) than the rest of the country.

However, when cut by race and ethnicity, a slightly different picture emerges. Around one in ten Black and Hispanic Americans alike say that they do not celebrate Thanksgiving, compared to just 3% of white Americans.

White Americans are more likely than Black and Hispanic Americans to say their Thanksgiving meal will include almost every food item surveyed, with one exception. Black Americans significantly more likely than other groups to say they plan to have macaroni and cheese on Thanksgiving (at 66%).

Pumpkin pie is America’s Thanksgiving favorite

One in three American’s say pumpkin pie is their Thanksgiving favorite, while it’s a tossup between apple and pecan for second place. Again, different parts of the country show a preference for certain food items traditionally associated with their region. In the South, 24% say they prefer pecan pie and 14% prefer sweet potato pie. In the Northeast, one in three go for apple.

Which holidays Americans observe

A majority of Americans of all ages observe Memorial Day, Labor Day and New Year’s Eve, but other holidays are less universally celebrated. As Ipsos polling underlines, public opinion still has not settled around Columbus Day and Indigenous People’s Day, both observed on the second Monday in October.

While some states have adopted Indigenous People’s Day in place of Columbus Day, people under 40 are more likely to say they observe Indigenous People’s Day, while those 40 and above are more likely to say they celebrate Columbus Day. Similarly, younger generations are more likely to observe Juneteenth and Cinco de Mayo.

Opinion around Columbus Day and Indigenous People’s Day breaks down even further when partisanship is brought into consideration. Just 6% of Republicans say they observe Indigenous People’s Day, as compared to 35% of Democrats. While a similar divide plays out among white Americans and Americans of color, this is largely driven by partisan affiliation, as 31% of white Democrats say they observe this day, compared to 5% of white Republicans.

Democrats most likely to feel that Election Day should be national holiday

Half of Americans feel that Election Day should be a national holiday. Compared to other holidays that aren’t currently national holidays, Election Day wins some of the highest support for being turned into a national holiday. However, there are pronounced partisan differences among the public on this question.

Over half of Democrats and Independents feel Election Day should be a national holiday, while only a minority of Republicans feel the same. Specifically, two in three Democrats and about half of Independents (53%) would support making Election Day a national holiday, while just one in three Republicans would do the same.

If you make more money, you sleep better at night

How much money someone makes seems to play a role in how well they sleep at night.

Among people making $50K or more, half feel that their sleep quality in the last month was good, while just 9% report having poor sleep quality. But, among lower-income people (those making under $50K), only one in three feel their sleep quality during that time was usually good, while about one in five feels that their sleep quality was poor. Meaning that lower-income people are nearly twice as likely to rate their sleep quality as poor (17% under $50K vs. 9% over $50K).

Notably, very few people feel their sleep quality in the past month was excellent, regardless of income.

The author(s)
  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Editorial Director, US, Public Affairs