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U.S. Satisfaction Drops to 24% in May

U.S. Satisfaction Drops to 24% in May

Yearly average to date is 25%, about the same as in 2012

PRINCETON, NJ -- Twenty-four percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the United States in May, down from 30% in April and near the 25% average for the first five months of this year.

Trend: In general, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time?

These results are from Gallup's Values and Beliefs poll, with interviewing conducted May 2-7.

Americans' satisfaction has averaged 38% over the 34 years since 1979, when Gallup first asked the question, with the highest yearly average of 60% measured in 1986, two years into Ronald Reagan's second term, and in 1998 and 2000, during the economic boom of the "dot-com" era. The lowest yearly average of 15% came in 2008, as the mortgage crisis and recession hit the nation's economy, and the second-lowest average of 17% came in 2011. Americans' satisfaction improved to 26% for 2012, and has remained similar across the first five months of 2013.

U.S. Satisfaction -- Yearly Averages, 1981-2013 to Date

Democrats Remain Most Satisfied

Democrats remain the most satisfied of the three major political groups, while Republicans are the least satisfied. These partisan differences are typical and reflect the fairly normal relationship between Americans' attitudes about the country and the president's party.

Democrats' satisfaction is 37% in May, down from 48% last month and similar to their 34% satisfaction in March. Independents' and Republicans' satisfaction ratings have been more stable over the last three months, with Republicans' very low ratings shifting minimally within a narrow range of three percentage points.

U.S. Satisfaction, by Political Party, March-May 2013


The Boston Marathon bombings -- which occurred after the April measure of U.S. satisfaction -- and their aftermath, the ongoing Benghazi investigation, and other recent events may have contributed to a slight decline in U.S. satisfaction in May. Still, from a broad perspective, the yearly average to date of 25% is on par with the 2012 yearly average of 26%.

Over the past three decades, Americans have been most satisfied during the mid-1980s, and in the late 1990s and early 2000s -- when the economy was strong. The low points in Americans' satisfaction came in the early 1990s and over the past five years, when the nation was in recession or coming out of one. The last five years represent the longest sustained period of low satisfaction since Gallup began to measure satisfaction on a regular basis in 1981.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 2-7, 2013, with a random sample of 1,535 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphone numbers are selected using random digit dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

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.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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