We lost faith in our leaders and football, but remained loyal to snacks and TV
The way we were in 2017
How are we feeling?
Troubled. 59% of Americans say we’re at the lowest point in our country’s history that they can remember, and 63% say concerns about the nation’s future are a major source of stress in their lives (American Psychological Association). Many fear that partisan politics is splitting the country in two: 70% say the nation’s political divide is at least as big as during the Vietnam War and 39% think this lack of unity is the new normal (Washington Post/University of Maryland). If the Founding Fathers were alive today, 79% think, they’d be disappointed with the U.S. (Fox News). Yet there are some causes for optimism. 43% believe the economy is good or excellent, the highest number in a decade (CNBC), and 58% say they’re moving closer to realizing their career and financial aspirations—the highest number since 2013 (Bloomberg).
Whom do we blame for America’s problems?
For many, it’s the man in the Oval Office. 66% say he’s done more to divide than unite the country (ABC News/Washington Post). Yet his core support remains solid: 22% of Americans say they’d still approve of Trump even if he shot someone on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue (Public Policy Polling). The presidency isn’t the only institution that’s slumped in the eyes of the public. 81% have an unfavorable opinion of Congress (Gallup) and 45% say they have almost no confidence in the press (Reuters/Ipsos). Indeed, 65% think the mainstream media is filled with “fake news” produced by agenda-driven partisans on both the left and right (Harvard-Harris). But many Americans might not accept that finding: 61% say they don’t trust public opinion polls (NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist).
How has society changed?
In some areas, we’re more accepting of diversity. A record 60% support same-sex marriage (NBC News/Wall Street Journal), and 61% are OK with transgender people serving in the military (CBS News/YouGov). But discrimination hasn’t disappeared: 58% say racism is a big problem in the U.S., a 30-point rise from 2011 (Pew Research Center). 64% say the same about sexual harassment in the workplace (Washington Post/ABC News). Many worry about how automation is shaking up society: 35% think they might lose their job to a robot (Ipsos). Still, some seem happy to outsource human tasks to automatons: If it were possible to have sex with robots, 24% of men would consider taking one to bed (YouGov).
How do we relax?
By grabbing a bite. 55% snack two to three times a day—up from 50% in 2015—and 24% admit they reach for the cookies when they need to de-stress (Mintel). TV also helps us chill out. 73% engage in epic binge-watching sessions, staying glued to the screen for three hours or more (Deloitte). And we don’t just do our watching at home: 37% of Netflix subscribers have used the streaming service to catch up on a show while ostensibly at work, and 12% while in a public bathroom (SurveyMonkey). For many Americans, football no longer serves as a diversion from politics: 77% say it’s wrong for players to take the knee during the national anthem, and 62% say they plan to watch less pro football because of the controversy (Yahoo Finance).
What are we afraid of?
A lot. 73% are concerned that North Korea will launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. or its allies (Investor’s Business Daily/TIPP), and 76% are worried the U.S. will become involved in a major war in the next three years (NBC News/SurveyMonkey). 38% are less likely to attend events that draw large crowds because of their fear of terrorism, and 46% are afraid to travel overseas for the same reason (Gallup). Some fears are a bit more irrational: 48% believe a “deep state” of bureaucrats and intelligence officials is trying to manipulate national policy (Washington Post/ABC News). And 28% worry that a worldwide epidemic of an as yet unknown disease might turn people into zombie-like creatures (YouGov). ■