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Satisfaction With U.S. Direction Lowest in Four Years

Satisfaction With U.S. Direction Lowest in Four Years

Story Highlights

  • Satisfaction has dropped 25 points from recent high in February
  • Republicans' 39% satisfaction down from 80% in February
  • Citations of race issues as most important problem highest since 1968

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Four months after hitting a 15-year high, Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S. has dropped 25 percentage points to 20%, a level last seen in 2017. The decline since February came in two waves. The first occurred as the coronavirus spread across the country, and the second -- a 12-point drop from May -- followed the death of George Floyd while he was in police custody in Minneapolis.

Line graph. Satisfaction among Americans with the direction of the US since 1979. The latest 20% satisfaction rating on the metric is down 25 percentage points since February.

The most recent reading of the public's satisfaction with the direction of the country is from a Gallup poll conducted May 28-June 4, 2020. The field period encompassed the arrests of the police officers charged with Floyd's May 25 death and the eruption of nationwide protests against police brutality and racism in the U.S.

Satisfaction with the U.S. is down significantly among all three partisan groups. Democrats' current reading of 6% is the lowest recorded since shortly before the 2008 presidential election, although it hasn't risen above 16% since President Donald Trump took office. Republicans' satisfaction, now at 39%, is down from 80% in February -- while independents' has fallen by 16 points since last month to 18%, their lowest point since 2016.

Line graph. Satisfaction among Republicans and Democrats and independents with the direction of the United States since February 2017. The latest 39% satisfaction rating on the metric among Republicans is down from 80% in February 2020. Currently, 18% of independents and 6% of Democrats are satisfied.

Coronavirus Falls, Race Relations Soars as Most Important Problem in U.S.

In the wake of Floyd's death and renewed calls for racial equality, Americans' citations of race relations or racism as the most important problem facing the U.S. has jumped to 19%, up from 4% in May and the highest since 1968 in Gallup polling. Mentions of crime or violence (3%) and police brutality (2%) are both also higher in the latest poll.

At the same time, mentions of the coronavirus have fallen by half, to 20%, while citations of government/poor leadership (21%) and economic concerns (19%) have remained steady.

Line graph. The top four issues cited by Americans monthly from March 2020 to June 2020 as the most important problem facing the United States. Currently 21% mention government or leadership, 20% the coronavirus, 19% racism or race relations, and 16% economic concerns.

After being seen as the clear top problem facing the nation among Republicans, independents and Democrats alike in April and May, the coronavirus is now more on par with other issues among all three party groups.

Democrats are about equally divided in citing race relations (27%), government (25%) and the coronavirus (25%) as the top problem. Among Republicans, the coronavirus (17%) roughly ties with government (18%) as the top mention, followed by the economy (12%) and race relations (10%). Political independents are about equally likely to cite race relations (20%), government (20%) and the coronavirus (18%).

Partisans' Views of Nation's Most Important Problem
What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today? [OPEN-ENDED]
Republicans Independents Democrats
% % %
Government 18 20 25
Coronavirus/Diseases 17 18 25
Race relations 10 20 27
Economy in general 12 9 4
The media 6 1 <1
Crime/Violence 6 3 1
Morals/Ethics 6 2 1
Unemployment/Jobs 5 3 7
Unifying the country 5 4 3
Lack of respect for each other 2 5 4
Police brutality 2 4 1
Healthcare 2 3 4
Gap between the rich and poor 1 3 4
Note: Figures may add to more than 100 due to multiple mentions and issues with fewer mentions are not shown
GALLUP, May 28-June 4, 2020

Additionally, Republicans are slightly more likely than Democrats and independents to cite crime or violence, morals or ethics, and the media, with 6% of Republicans naming each as the nation's top problem.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

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