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Snapshot: 38% of Americans Satisfied With U.S.

Snapshot: 38% of Americans Satisfied With U.S.

Story Highlights

  • Satisfaction with the way things are going has been stable for six months
  • In addition to government, top problems include immigration and race issues

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Less than a month before the November midterm elections, 38% of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the United States, little changed over the past six months but generally higher than it has been over the past decade. From a longer-term perspective, the current satisfaction reading is similar to the 37% average reading since Gallup began tracking satisfaction in 1979.

Line graph. Satisfaction with way things are going in U.S. from 1979 to present; current reading 38%.

Background: These results are based on Gallup's Oct. 1-10 survey, the most recent update of this question, which has been measured on a monthly basis since 2001 and less frequently from 1979 to 2000.

The 38% satisfaction rating in October is significantly higher than it was in the final polls conducted before the two midterm elections held during Barack Obama's presidency -- 2014 and 2010. But it is comparable to the 2006 reading, during George W. Bush's second term. The party of the president lost seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in each of those elections. By contrast, satisfaction was 60% in 1998 and 48% in 2002, and the president's party gained seats in both years.

Gallup will take one final measure of Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the final weeks of October and will report those results before the elections.

As is almost always the case, Americans who identify with the party of the president are more likely than others to be satisfied with the way things are going. Specifically, 69% of Republicans in the latest poll report being satisfied, compared with 36% of independents and 12% of Democrats -- similar to last month.

Most Important Problem

Two important conclusions from last month's analysis of Americans' views of the most important problem facing the nation are reinforced in October's data. First, the 13% this month who mention some aspect of the economy as the top problem (similar to the 12% last month) is essentially tied for the lowest in Gallup's history of asking the "most important problem" question. Second, Americans continue to be most likely to say issues relating to the way the nation is being governed -- at 27% of all mentions this month -- are the top problem facing the nation.

Other problems named by 6% or more of the public include immigration, the need to unify the country, racism and healthcare.

Most Important Problem Facing the United States
Top mentions
Dissatisfaction with government/Poor leadership 27
Immigration/Illegal immigrants 13
Race relations/Racism 6
Need to unify the country 6
Healthcare 6
Lack of respect for each other 5
Economy 3
Unemployment/Jobs 3
Ethics/Moral/Religious/Family values 3
Environment/Pollution 3
The media 3
GALLUP, Oct. 1-10, 2018

The government was tied with the economy as the top problem in October 2014, before that year's midterm elections. In October 2010, economic issues overwhelmed all other issues as the most important problem. Just before the 2006 elections, Americans saw the Iraq War as the top problem, while terrorism was most on Americans' minds in 2002. Midterm year 1994 was the only such year out of the past seven (including this year) in which more than half of Americans (52%) mentioned a single problem -- crime -- as most important in Gallup's last poll before the vote.

All three partisan groups -- Republicans, independents and Democrats -- currently name government as the top problem facing the nation. Beyond government, Republicans next-most frequently mention immigration (20%) and the economy in general (7%). Among independents, the top issues behind government are immigration (14%) and the need to unify the country (8%). The top three issues among Democrats are government, race relations (10%) and healthcare (8%).

View complete question responses and trends.

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