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U.S. Satisfaction at 13%, Lowest in Nine Years

U.S. Satisfaction at 13%, Lowest in Nine Years

Story Highlights

  • Satisfaction down from 20% in early June and 45% in February
  • Percentage "satisfied" has not been this low since November 2011
  • Current figure is just six points above all-time low recorded in 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S. continues to tumble since it started trending downward at the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Currently, 13% of U.S. adults are satisfied with the state of the nation, down seven percentage points in the past month and 32 points since reaching a 15-year high in February. Satisfaction has not been this low since November 2011.

Line graph. The 13% of Americans who are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. is down from 20% in June and 45% in February.

The latest update is based on a July 1-23 Gallup poll, conducted as the U.S. faced a surge in coronavirus infections and the most challenging economic conditions since the Great Depression. The nation also continues its reckoning with the issue of race relations after the late May death of George Floyd and ensuing nationwide protests about racial injustice.

These events have greatly altered the national mood this year, from one that was brighter than it had been in over a decade to one of the dourest in the past 40 years.

Satisfaction now sits just six points above the all-time low in October 2008 immediately following sharp drops in the U.S. stock market during the global financial crisis.

The current measure ties as the ninth lowest in Gallup's history of tracking satisfaction since 1979. All of the other similar readings were recorded in tough economic times -- in 1979 during the energy crisis, in 2008 during the Great Recession, and in 2011 after Standard & Poor's downgraded the U.S. credit rating as the federal government struggled to contain U.S. debt.

Lowest U.S. Satisfaction Ratings in Gallup Polls
% Satisfied
2008 Oct 10-12 7
2008 Oct 3-5 9
2008 Dec 4-7 10
2008 Nov 13-16 11
2011 Sep 8-11 11
2011 Aug 11-14 11
2011 Nov 3-6 12
1979 Jul 13-16 12
2020 Jul 1-23 13
2011 Oct 6-9 13
2009 Jan 3-5 13
2008 Nov 7-9 13
2008 Oct 31-Nov 2 13

The plunge in the U.S. mood, both in the past month and since February, is mostly occurring among Republicans. Republicans' satisfaction today (20%) is about half what it was a month ago (39%) and down 60 points since February, after the Senate acquitted President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial. The current figure is easily the lowest for Republicans during the Trump administration, with their prior low being 38% in October 2017.

Notably, even with Republicans highly dissatisfied with the state of the nation, they continue to overwhelmingly approve of the job Trump is doing as president (91%). Consequently, their dissatisfaction may have more to do with what is going on in the country -- the coronavirus and its effect on economic activity, the focus on matters of race -- than the administration's handling of it. To some degree, it could also reflect Republicans' awareness of pre-election polls showing Trump trailing Democrat Joe Biden by a significant margin.

Independents have also shown a significant drop in satisfaction from earlier this year, with much of that coming in the past two months. Independents' 34% job approval rating of Trump is consistent with their low satisfaction.

Democrats have not been inclined to express satisfaction with the state of the nation during the Trump years, and that remains the case, with only 7% saying they are satisfied.

Line graph. 20% of Republicans, 12% of independents and 7% of Democrats are satisfied with the way things are going in the United States.

Bottom Line

Americans have rarely been less satisfied with the state of the nation than they are now. Although the public does not have to be highly satisfied for incumbents to be reelected, the current level of satisfaction sits well below the low-water mark (33%) at which an incumbent has won reelection in the past. An even more troubling sign for the current president is that satisfaction is significantly lower now than it was in 1992 (22%) when George H.W. Bush lost his bid for a second term.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

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