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Politics

Presidency Affects Americans' Lives in Many Ways

Politics

Presidency Affects Americans' Lives in Many Ways

Presidency Affects Americans' Lives in Many Ways

Story Highlights

  • About half say their overall happiness is affected at least a fair amount
  • Solid majorities say their views about the nation are affected

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- About half of Americans (52%) say "the person who is serving as president" (regardless of whom that happens to be) affects their overall happiness a fair amount (30%) or a great deal (22%).

Americans also say the presidency has a major effect on their fundamental attitudes about the nation as a whole and, on a personal level, their standard of living. At least two-thirds say the presidency affects them at least a fair amount on each of these aspects of their lives. On only one aspect -- their relationships with other people -- do a majority (57%) say they are affected only a little (24%) or not at all (33%).

How Presidency Affects Seven Aspects of Americans' Lives
Thinking generally, and regardless of who happens to be president, how much does the person serving as president affect the following aspects of your life?
Great deal Fair amount Only a little Not at all
% % % %
Your interest in current events 45 23 21 10
Your optimism about the future of the U.S. 45 26 19 9
Your confidence in the U.S. economy 40 31 22 6
Your satisfaction with the way things are going in the country 37 31 19 12
Your confidence that you can maintain or improve your standard of living 35 32 22 11
Your relationships with other people 23 19 24 33
Your overall happiness 22 30 31 17
GALLUP, Jan. 23-28, 2018

These results are based on a Jan. 23-28 Gallup poll asking Americans how much "the person who is serving as president" affects seven different aspects of their lives. The question is not specific to President Donald Trump but instead states, "regardless of who happens to be president."

More than four in 10 apply the strongest term -- a "great deal" -- in describing the effect that the president has on their optimism about the nation's future (45%). Forty percent say their confidence in the U.S. economy is affected a great deal, and 37% say the presidency greatly affects their satisfaction with the way things are going in the country. Sixty-two percent say at least one of these three attitudes about the nation is affected a great deal.

On aspects of their personal lives, 35% say their confidence in maintaining or improving their standard of living is affected a great deal. Additionally, 23% say the presidency greatly affects their relationships with other people, and 22% say the same about their overall happiness. About half of Americans (52%) say the presidency affects them a great deal in at least one of these areas of their personal lives.

The presidency also has a relatively strong effect on Americans' engagement with public affairs. Forty-five percent say the person serving as president affects their interest in current events a great deal, while 23% say a fair amount, 21% only a little and 10% not at all.

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Few Major Differences Emerge Among Different Groups of Americans

There are few significant differences among major demographic groups -- gender, education, political party affiliation -- regarding people's self-reports of the presidency's effects. But there are differences by income and by attitudes about Trump in particular.

  • Seventy percent of those with annual household incomes of $60,000 or more say that at least one of their views of the nation is affected a great deal by the presidency, compared with 55% of those with incomes below $60,000. On all three of these aspects -- optimism about the future of the U.S., satisfaction with the way things are going in the country and confidence in the economy -- those with the higher incomes are more likely to say they are affected a great deal.

  • Although Americans on both sides of the political aisle may have strong opinions of Trump, those who approve of the job he is doing are more likely than those who disapprove to say that the presidency affects them. Seventy-one percent of those who approve say at least one of their views of the nation is affected a great deal, compared with a significantly lower 58% among those who disapprove. The largest gap between the two groups is on confidence in the economy -- 54% of those who approve versus 33% of those who disapprove say the presidency greatly affects that aspect of their lives.

  • Sixty-one percent of those approving of Trump's job as president say at least one aspect of their personal lives is affected a great deal, compared with 47% of those who disapprove. Among those who approve, 46% say the presidency greatly affects their confidence in their standard of living, compared with 28% of those who disapprove.

Implications

Americans today live in a culture saturated with politics, from political references written into TV series and entertainment awards ceremonies to corporations taking political stands to scientific studies and educational programs becoming targets of partisan attacks.

Add to the mix a president who was already a controversial national celebrity before he entered politics and who took office with four in 10 Americans holding "very unfavorable" views of him. The result: In the immediate aftermath of the election, Americans were more stressed and less productive and were worrying more than they had been previously.

How closely this is tied to the impact that Americans believe the presidency has on their lives is not clear. Without trends, it is impossible to know if these figures are higher or lower than during past administrations. What is clear: The vast majority say the presidency has at least a fair amount of effect on their lives, and more than half say it has a great deal of effect.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 23-28, 2018, on the Gallup U.S. Poll, with a random sample of 809 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, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Poll works.

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