Poll: Americans more worried about future

As Americans head into 2013, a new poll shows the public much less optimistic about what the future holds than they were four years ago at the start of President Obama’s first term.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Saturday shows that 53 percent of Americans say they are “hopeful” about what the new year holds in store for them personally. Forty-four percent, however, characterize their mood as “fearful.”

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Those numbers are down sharply from 2008, when 63 percent said they were hopeful about the future to 35 percent fearful. 

They are also the least optimistic figures in a decade, down from highs in 2001. In that year, 80 percent said they were personally hopeful , with 16 percent fearful about the year ahead.

Asked what the next year means for the world in general, a majority of Americans signaled worry, with 56 percent fearful and 40 percent hopeful.

The poll also shows continuing anxiety about the looming “fiscal cliff,” with 45 percent saying they don’t believe lawmakers and the president will reach a deficit-reduction deal by year’s end. 

Nearly 6 in 10 respondents are very concerned about the nation’s economy if talks fail, and 53 percent of those say they are fearful about 2013.

Talks between House Republicans and President Obama appeared to reach a dead end last week after Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio)’s “Plan B” tax plan failed to muster enough GOP support in the House. 

Boehner said that while he is willing to work with the president, the onus for finding a plan to avoid January’s tax rate hikes and automatic spending cuts now rested with Democrats. 

Obama and lawmakers have left Washington for the holidays, but are expected to return later this week. 

Overall, Republicans seem more concerned about the future than Democrats.  75 percent of Democrats are hopeful about their personal lives in the next year, with only 25 percent of Republicans feeling the same. Fifty percent of independents say they are hopefully personally.