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U.S. Satisfaction Back Up to 20%

U.S. Satisfaction Back Up to 20%

Remains one of lowest readings in last two years

PRINCETON, NJ -- Twenty percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the United States, a partial recovery from 16% in October during the government shutdown. The current reading is still one of the lowest Gallup has measured in the last two years.

Satisfaction With the Way Things Are Going in the U.S., 2012-2013

Many core Gallup tracking measures became more negative during the shutdown. Some, including satisfaction and economic confidence, have begun to recover since it ended. Others, including congressional job approval and presidential job approval, remain lower.

There is a significant party gap in satisfaction, with 31% of Democrats satisfied, compared with 20% of independents and 6% of Republicans. Democrats and independents show higher satisfaction levels than in October, though both are still below where they were at other points this year. Republicans' current level of satisfaction is the lowest for them since last November, when it was 5%.

Satisfaction With the Way Things Are Going in the U.S., by Party ID

Much of the movement in Americans' satisfaction during the past two years can be attributed to changes in Democrats' views, which have varied from a low of 25% satisfied last month to a high of 64% in November 2012. Over the same time, Republicans' satisfaction has ranged much more narrowly between 5% and 14%, and independents' satisfaction has fluctuated between 14% and 29%.

Satisfaction Continues Long Slump

Overall, Americans' satisfaction has averaged 24% so far this year, down slightly from last year's 26% average, and well below the historical average since 1979 of 38%. In fact, satisfaction has not been at or above the historical average since 2005, eight years ago.

Satisfaction With the Way Things Are Going in the U.S., Yearly Averages, 1979-2013

While the yearly 2013 average is low, it is not the worst Gallup has measured. The 2008 average of 15% is the lowest in Gallup records. The highest average, 60%, occurred in three different years -- 1986, 1998, and 2000.


Americans are not in quite as foul a mood as they were in October, or at other times in the past several years. However, the 20% who are currently satisfied with the way things are going in the United States is well below the historical average.

Certainly a good deal of the explanation for the lower satisfaction levels is tied to the economy. Americans are still more pessimistic than optimistic about the economy, though not nearly as pessimistic as they were during much of 2008-2011.

In addition to the economy, the gridlocked nature of the federal government may also contribute to Americans' relatively low satisfaction. Increasing numbers mention dissatisfaction with government as the most important problem facing the nation, with it topping the list the last two months, including this month after the shutdown ended. Finally, concerns over healthcare and the healthcare law, the second-most-frequently mentioned problem, may also be affecting Americans' satisfaction levels.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Nov. 7-10, 2013, with a random sample of 1,039 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 ±4 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 and cell telephone 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, and cellphone mostly). 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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