PRINCETON, NJ -- A new Gallup poll finds a continuing decline in Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States. Now at 19%, satisfaction has reverted to the levels seen in the first few months of the Obama presidency. Satisfaction was 13% when Obama took office in January 2009 but exceeded 30% during most of the summer.
"Since 1979, ... there have been three other periods of sub-20% satisfaction ratings, all during difficult economic times for the United States"
Americans' satisfaction with the direction of the country began to decline in late August, after peaking at 36% earlier that month. Since then, satisfaction levels have continued to fall, now dipping below the 20% level.
Gallup has tracked Americans' satisfaction with national conditions since 1979. Since that time, there have been three other periods of sub-20% satisfaction ratings, all during difficult economic times for the United States. These include 1979 to 1981, when the nation dealt first with an energy crisis during the latter part of the Carter presidency and high unemployment in the early part of the Reagan presidency; 1992, as the U.S. was coming out of a recession; and 2008 to early 2009, during the economic downturn and the financial crisis, including a record-low 7% reading in October 2008.
Current satisfaction levels among all party groups are low, including 11% among Republicans, 17% among independents, and 29% among Democrats.
The recent decline in satisfaction has come almost exclusively among Democrats. In August, 59% of Democrats said they were satisfied with national conditions -- twice the level of the current poll. Independents' satisfaction has dipped from 31% in August to 17% in March, with most of that decline observed between August and September.
Democrats' declining enthusiasm could reflect diminished hopes about what the Obama administration and the Democratic majority in Congress can accomplish. Although the government did pass Obama's top priority, an economic stimulus bill, last year, it has so far been unsuccessful in enacting healthcare reform. And though the stimulus package may have helped prevent the economy from getting worse than it otherwise would have, unemployment has risen during the Obama administration, and the healthcare reform efforts have slowed work on a jobs bill.
Results are based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,014 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted March 4-7, 2010. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).
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.