What is our state of mind?
Extremely uneasy. In October, only 21% of Americans were satisfied with the way things were going in the U.S., the lowest level in three decades of tracking (Gallup). A record high 46% say they are “uncertain” about the U.S. system of government and how it’s working, while 23% believe the U.S. used to be the greatest country in the world “but isn’t anymore” (ABC News/Yahoo). 47% say America’s best days are in the past (Rasmussen), and 53% believe the U.S. will play a less important role in the world in 40 years (Pew). Even faith in capitalism has eroded in the wake of the financial crisis, with 52% viewing it positively and 37% registering a negative view (Gallup). But as long as you call it “free enterprise,” more than 7 in 10 Americans still support it (U.S. Chamber of Commerce).
What are we so mad about?
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Pretty much everything. 23% say they’re “angry” about illegal immigration (CNN/Opinion Research Corp.); 27% believe American society is “unfair and discriminatory” (Rasmussen); 69% have a negative view of banks and financial institutions (Pew); 53% think free-trade agreements have hurt the country (The Wall Street Journal/NBC); 18% are angry at the federal government (CBS News); and just about everybody—86%—thinks the government is “broken” (CNN/Opinion Research Corp.). Only 3% say they’re “enthusiastic” about Washington, while 55% are either “disappointed” or “don’t care much” about the results of the midterm election (CBS News).
What are we afraid of?
72% say the world is becoming “more dangerous” for Americans (Public Agenda), and only 44% have confidence in the government’s ability to prevent terrorist attacks (ABC News/The Washington Post). 38% of likely voters believe the legal system concerns itself too much with individual rights at the expense of security (Rasmussen), while 81% support the use of full-body scanners to make air travel safer (CBS News). 42% of affluent investors are worried about “maintaining their family’s standard of living” (Merrill Lynch). 37% of American adults believe in ghosts (Zogby Interactive).
What do we do for fun?
79% of adults say they like to cook, and 30% say they love it (Harris Poll). 86% of 18- to 29-year-old Internet users visit social-networking sites, while for Internet users 50 and older, social networking nearly doubled in the past year to 42%; 85% of experts expect to look back in 2020 and view the Internet as “a positive force on my social world” (Pew). 57% of adults say they feel more connected to people thanks to social networks (Harris Poll). Among adults 18 to 24, 18% send or receive more than 200 texts per day, and 47% of all texting adults say they’ve sent or read a text while driving, as have 34% of 16- to 17-year-old texters. 65% of adults have slept with a cell phone next to their bed, and 91% feel safer having one (Pew). 76% enjoy watching 88-year-old actress Betty White, with 55% rating her “very favorably.” Only 1%, though, would like to see the media pay more attention to celebrities (Rasmussen).
What do we look forward to?
34% look forward to changing jobs when the economy improves (Deloitte Ethics & Workplace Survey). In the next four decades, 71% believe cancer will be cured, while 66% believe artificial limbs will outperform real ones, 68% think race relations will improve, and 53% say ordinary people will travel in space (Pew). On the downside, 60% believe there will be no Social Security check waiting for them when they retire (Gallup).
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