How are we feeling?

We’re pretty stressed out. 83% of Americans say they sometimes or frequently experience stress, and 46% say their lives at times seem “out of control.” The largest single cause of stress is money woes, with 39% of Americans saying they are worse off financially now than they were a year ago. Yet America’s characteristic optimism remains intact: By a 57% to 19% margin, Americans think that a year from now, their finances will be improved (AP/Yahoo). And overall, Americans say their lives are going well; 56% say they are “very satisfied” and 38% “somewhat satisfied” with the lives they lead. Only 6% report being “not satisfied” (Harris).

Are we satisfied with the direction of our nation?

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Not by a long shot. 75% say the next president must set the nation in a new direction, while only 23% say the next president should stay the course (The Washington Post/ABC News). 72% say that if the U.S. Founding Fathers came back today, they would be disappointed with the way America turned out (CBS News). Yet 86% believe the U.S. is the best country in the world, while just 7% name another country as better (Fox News/Opinion Dynamics).

What are we worried about?

The issues that trump all others are the war in Iraq (cited this month as the top priority by 32% of Americans), the economy (25%), health care (19%), and terrorism (18%) (Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg). 48% say America is safer today than it was before Sept. 11, while 33% say it is less safe. Nearly half believe that terrorists are living in their hometown (Fox News/Opinion Dynamics).

What about immigration?

We’re all over the map. 15% cite illegal immigration as the most important issue facing the nation (Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg). 46% say legal immigrants have had a positive effect on community life, while 12% say it’s been negative. Only 21% say illegal immigrants have had a positive affect (Los Angeles Times). 55% say people who cannot read or write English should not be allowed to vote. 60% support moves to put illegal immigrants on a “path to citizenship” while 15% oppose that and 25% are unsure. 84% support making English the official language of the U.S. (Zogby).

What do we believe in?

There’s a reason presidential candidates play up their religious convictions. 82% of American adults believe in God (Harris). 31% believe the Bible is the actual word of God to be taken literally. 47% believe the Bible was “inspired by the word of God,” while 19% believe the Bible is a book of history, fables, and moral precepts recorded by man (Gallup). Then again, 34% of Americans believe in ghosts, and 23% say they’ve personally seen a ghost or felt its presence. 19% say they believe in spells or witchcraft. Like Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich, 14% say they’ve seen a UFO (Associated Press/Ipsos).

What do we value most?

Judging by how we spend our time, our computers. Most people spend more time with their computers than with their spouse or significant other. More than 80% report that they grow more dependent on their computer every year. Computers are also a growing source of stress. The average consumer experiences frustrating computer problems twice a month and wastes 12 hours a month due to computer problems (Kelton Research). 11% say they’d be willing to implant a device in their brains that allowed them to access the Internet. 24% say the Internet can serve as a substitute for a significant other. 10% say the Web brings them close to God (Zogby).

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