The way we were in 2018
We despaired over politics and partisan divisions but came together to watch superhero movies and a lot of TV.
How are we feeling?
Glum. 64% percent of Americans say the nation is headed in the wrong direction, 62% are fearful about the future of democracy in the U.S. (AARP/AYA), and 84% think the country is greatly divided on basic values (Associated Press/NORC). While 72% are proud to be American, only 42% feel proud of the country right now (Ipsos). Yet despite that air of national discontent, 86% say they’re happy with how things are going in their local community (Associated Press/NORC) and 65% call the economy “good” or “excellent”—the most in 17 years (Washington Post/ABC News). A record high 68% say this is a good time to find a quality job (Gallup).
Whom do we blame for America’s woes?
Politicians in Washington, naturally. 77% percent are dissatisfied with the state of American politics (Associated Press/NORC), and 75% have little or no confidence in our elected officials. We don’t trust voters either: 56% aren’t confident in the political wisdom of the American people (Pew Research). Many think President Trump is dragging the nation down. 69% say he’s damaged the dignity of the presidency (PRRI), 56% that he’s done more to divide than unite America, and 36% that his words and actions have helped fuel political violence (Politico/Morning Consult). Some are simply puzzled by the commander-in-chief’s hair: 37% think it’s all natural, 30% a toupee, and 33% aren’t sure (Public Policy Polling).
How has society changed?
In many ways, we’re more tolerant. A record 67% support same-sex marriage (Gallup), and 55% say they don’t care whether their co-workers are gay or straight (Propeller Insights). And most people are fine with foreigners moving here: 61% think immigration helps more than hurts the U.S., up from 49% in 2015 (NBC News/Wall Street Journal). But prejudice hasn’t disappeared. 73% say anti-black racism is still widespread, while 33% believe there’s a lot of discrimination against whites (PRRI). Partisan bigotry is also rife. 54% of Democrats think Republicans are ignorant, and 21% say they’re evil. Meanwhile, 49% of Republicans think Democrats are ignorant, and 23% that they’re evil (Axios/SurveyMonkey). 53% of all Americans find talking politics with someone who holds different views “stressful and frustrating” (Pew Research).
How do we relax?
Mostly through the escapism offered by movies, TV, and the internet. 41% enjoy superhero movies—though 17% are getting a little tired of the endless franchises. 23% refuse to watch such flicks (Morning Consult). Almost all of us like to binge on TV, with 75% saying they routinely watch three or more episodes of a show in a single sitting (Deloitte). We also can’t stop bingeing on our smartphones. Only 17% said they could go a whole day without checking their device, 31% a few hours, and 8% an hour or less (YouGov). 88% regularly check their phone when on vacation. Some 50% admit to tripping over or bumping into things while on vacation because they were so absorbed in their phone (Asurion/OnePoll).
What are we scared of?
Plenty. 42% are afraid of being a victim of a random mass shooting, up from 16% in 2015 (Chapman University), and 57% of teens worry about gunfire erupting at their schools (Pew Research). Washington gives many cause for concern: 74% are fearful of corrupt government officials (Chapman University), and 30% worry President Trump is being framed for crimes by the FBI and Justice Department (Economist/YouGov). 64% fear that another world war will erupt in the next 40 years (YouGov). Like so many other issues the nation can’t agree on, we’re also divided on which is scarier: sharks or President Trump. 43% say sharks, and 42% Trump (Public Policy Polling).
AP (2), Newscom, Newscom, Matthew Brown/Hearst Connecticut Newspapers