Gallup: Americans sour on economy, happier on other issues since 2001

Americans feel the same or better about a host of issues in the United States compared to 12 years ago, but are far more pessimistic about the economy, according to Gallup’s annual Mood of the Nation survey. 

Only 28 percent of American adults were satisfied or very satisfied with the nation’s economy, compared to 68 percent satisfaction in 2001.

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Gallup’s poll asked respondents whether they were very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with various aspects of the country. It was conducted from Jan. 5-8 and closely imitates a poll conducted on Jan. 10-14, 2001, at the tail end of Bill Clinton's presidency.

Despite the steep 40-point drop in economic satisfaction, respondents actually were more content on most of the issues polled. Of the 18 issues presented, Americans felt better about 12 of them, in most cases significantly so.

The biggest boost was in satisfaction with the nation’s acceptance of gays and lesbians. Fifty-three percent of those polled were satisfied or very satisfied, compared to 35 percent in 2001. Satisfaction boosts of more than 10 points were also seen in how much Americans pay in federal taxes (from 26 to 38 percent), the nation’s military strength and preparedness (61 to 72 percent) and the state of the country’s race relations (44 to 55 percent).

In additional to their economic pessimism, respondents were also glum about the U.S.’s role in world affairs; only 40 percent were satisfied or very satisfied, compared to 61 percent in 2001. There was also a 5-point reduction in satisfaction with the nation’s policies on abortion, from 43 to 38 percent.

Unsurprisingly, there was a large partisan split on many of the issues polled, with Democrats more satisfied than Republicans on all but three issues. Major exceptions were on the nation’s environmental quality, where Republicans were 23 percent more likely to be satisfied, and on the nation’s gun laws, where Republicans were 18 percent more likely to be satisfied.

On the other hand, Democrats were 25 percent more likely to be satisfied with the availability of affordable healthcare, 24 percent more satisfied with the country’s level of immigration and 22 percent more satisfied with the economy. Despite a deep division regarding the availability of healthcare, the parties were in a statistical tie regarding healthcare quality, with 63 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of Republicans satisfied.

The poll used a random sample of 1,018 adults and had a margin of errors of plus or minus 4 percentage points. 

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