- Satisfaction with U.S. economy down 25 points since 2020
- Satisfaction with crime, terrorism, racial issues also down sharply
- Most widespread satisfaction with military strength; least with dealing with poverty
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' satisfaction with the state of the nation in 21 different areas has declined or held steady compared with one year ago. This includes five measures with double-digit drops in satisfaction: the state of the economy (down 25 percentage points), policies to reduce or control crime (20 points), security from terrorism (14 points), race relations (13 points), and the position of Black Americans and other minorities in the U.S. (11 points).
The declines in satisfaction on these specific issues are most likely linked to events of the past year, which saw an economic crisis resulting from the global coronavirus pandemic, protests and heightened discussion of racial injustice ignited by the killing of George Floyd, and an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump.
|The state of the nation's economy||68||43||-25|
|The nation's policies to reduce or control crime||47||27||-20|
|The nation's security from terrorism||68||54||-14|
|The state of race relations||36||23||-13|
|The position of Blacks and other racial minorities in the nation||46||35||-11|
|The nation's military strength and preparedness||81||74||-7|
|The quality of the environment in the nation||46||41||-5|
|Government regulation of businesses and industries||41||36||-5|
|The nation's efforts to deal with poverty and homelessness||22||18||-4|
|The availability of affordable healthcare||37||34||-3|
|The nation's energy policies||44||42||-2|
|The role the U.S. plays in world affairs||43||41||-2|
|The position of women in the nation||63||62||-1|
|The acceptance of gays and lesbians in the nation||56||55||-1|
|The amount Americans pay in federal taxes||37||36||-1|
|The nation's laws or policies on guns||42||42||0|
|The quality of public education in the nation||35||35||0|
|The quality of medical care in the nation||52||53||+1|
|The Social Security and Medicare systems||43||44||+1|
|The nation's policies regarding the abortion issue||32||33||+1|
|The level of immigration into the country today||35||39||+4|
|Gallup, Jan. 4-15, 2021|
Gallup has asked Americans about their satisfaction with specific issues constituting the state of the nation each January since 2001, except for 2009-2011. The latest findings are from a Jan. 4-15 poll conducted during the waning days of the Trump administration, as the coronavirus pandemic reached its worst point yet. Most of the interviewing occurred after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by American insurrectionists.
The declines in satisfaction with the state of key issue areas mirror Americans' low satisfaction with the state of the nation generally as well as their reduced satisfaction with a number of broad aspects of the country, such as quality of life.
Overall, majorities of Americans are satisfied with five of the societal and policy areas: the nation's military strength and preparedness (74%), women's position in the nation (62%), the acceptance of gays and lesbians (55%), security from terrorism (54%) and the quality of medical care (53%). These top-rated issues -- particularly military strength -- have typically ranked near the top each year since 2001. Acceptance of gays and lesbians has been a high-ranking issue since 2015.
At the other end of the spectrum, a record-low 18% of U.S. adults are satisfied with the nation's efforts to deal with poverty and homelessness. The poverty and homelessness measure has consistently placed near the bottom of the list, along with campaign finance laws, which was not asked this year. Satisfaction with the state of race relations has been muted since 2015. Crime satisfaction generally has not ranked as low as it does this year.
Notable Declines in Satisfaction With Some Policy Areas
In addition to efforts to deal with poverty and homelessness, several measures have reached their lowest satisfaction in Gallup's history: the nation's policies to reduce or control crime (27%), the position of Black Americans and other racial minorities in the nation (35%), and the quality of the environment (41%).
Line graph. Americans' satisfaction with the nation's policies to reduce or control crime (27% in 2021), the position of Black Americans and other racial minorities in the nation (35% in 2021), the quality of the environment (41%), and efforts to deal with poverty and homelessness (18%), trends since 2001. The current ratings for each of these four issues are the lowest on record.
Moreover, satisfaction with the quality of public education matches last year's record-low 35%, and satisfaction with the state of race relations, at 23%, is statistically the same as the record-low 22% in 2017. Satisfaction with the nation's policies regarding abortion is also statistically equal to last year's 32% historical low.
Partisans' Differing Satisfaction Levels Persist
In 2018, the first satisfaction readings taken during Trump's presidency, Republicans' and Republican-leaning independents' satisfaction was elevated on every measure, while Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents were generally less satisfied than they had been in 2017 under Barack Obama. Although Republicans' satisfaction levels have eroded this year, significant differences persist in the final readings of the Trump era.
Eleven policy areas garner majority-level satisfaction from Republicans, but majorities of Democrats are satisfied with just one -- the nation's military strength and preparedness -- and on that issue, Republicans' satisfaction is 18 points higher than Democrats' 66%.
The other 10 issues with majorities of Republican satisfaction are the position of women in the nation, the nation's security from terrorism, the quality of the environment, gun laws or policies, the quality of medical care, energy policies, the acceptance of gays and lesbians, the position of Black Americans and other racial minorities in the nation, the state of the economy, and the role the U.S. plays in world affairs.
Despite their differences, Republicans and Democrats have similarly low levels of satisfaction on four policies: Social Security and Medicare systems, government regulation of businesses and industries, the quality of public education, and the amount Americans pay in federal taxes.
Republicans' satisfaction with the nation's economy fell more than any other aspect this year (-29 points). Democrats' largest declines in satisfaction were 19 points for the nation's policies to reduce crime and 16 points for the national economy.
|Change from 2020
|The nation's military strength and preparedness||84||66||-7||-7|
|The position of women in the nation||82||47||+3||-1|
|The nation's security from terrorism||75||43||-5||-10|
|The quality of the environment in the nation||71||20||+4||-6|
|The nation's laws or policies on guns||69||21||+2||+4|
|The quality of medical care in the nation||68||44||+1||+6|
|The nation's energy policies||67||25||+5||-2|
|The acceptance of gays and lesbians in the nation||65||50||0||+4|
|The position of Blacks/other racial minorities in the nation||59||21||-11||-5|
|The state of the nation's economy||58||32||-29||-16|
|The role the U.S. plays in world affairs||55||34||-10||+12|
|The level of immigration into the country today||45||37||+14||-1|
|The availability of affordable healthcare||45||26||-3||+1|
|The Social Security and Medicare systems||44||47||-3||+7|
|Government regulation of businesses and industries||41||35||-3||0|
|The state of race relations||40||14||-10||-8|
|The nation's policies to reduce or control crime||40||21||-12||-19|
|The quality of public education in the nation||35||37||-2||+4|
|The amount Americans pay in federal taxes||34||37||-7||+2|
|The nation's efforts to deal with poverty/homelessness||32||9||-1||-3|
|The nation's policies regarding the abortion issue||26||41||-6||+9|
|Gallup, Jan. 4-15, 2021|
The mood of the nation is bleak, as Americans' overall satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S. is 11%, and their satisfaction with 16 of 21 specific aspects of the state of the nation is below the majority level. Indeed, in the wake of a tumultuous year at the end of the Trump presidency, Americans are not significantly more satisfied with any of the measures than they were last year. This is also the case compared with 2017, before Trump became president, with the exception of satisfaction with the strength and preparedness of the nation's military, which is now eight points higher.
With Democrat Joe Biden now in the White House and working swiftly to reverse many of the Trump administration's policies, Democrats' satisfaction with many aspects of the state of the nation would be expected to improve, while Republicans' satisfaction will likely fall, in the coming year.
Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.