In a surprising finding, Gallup reports Americans are less satisfied with the country’s direction than they were in early 2020. Very few see Biden delivering on his promises to shut down the virus or unify the nation. Additionally, Americans’ ratings of their mental health and outlook on the economy have also cratered in recent polls. So, while they are more satisfied with their personal lives than with the national direction since Joe Biden’s inauguration, both measures have declined.
In early January 2020, Americans had a record high level of satisfaction with their personal lives. An additional record-high percentage, 65%, reported being very satisfied instead of just somewhat satisfied. These measures coincided with a 20-year high in confidence in the economy. In 2020, high-income Americans who were married and identified as Republicans reported the highest satisfaction levels.
The influences on Americans’ satisfaction with their personal life changed in 2022, and the effects of the pandemic altered the characteristics of people reporting the highest levels of satisfaction. While the most satisfied Americans remained those in the higher income brackets, whether or not the individual had a college degree became a primary influence. These findings might indicate that those in the so-called “Zoom class,” who could work remotely and experienced lower unemployment, remained more satisfied.
Religious affiliation was also a top indicator of satisfaction with one’s personal life, according to Gallup. The more frequently an individual reported attending religious services, the more likely they were to respond that they were very satisfied with their personal life. Two-thirds of people who reported attending church weekly said they were very satisfied, while only 48% who reported attending less than once a month responded the same. This finding could relate to religious communities providing a higher level of support during the isolation of the pandemic.
It may also shed light on the resilience that accompanies holding religious beliefs while faced with a crisis. For Americans who report their mental health is excellent, weekly church attendance is a primary indicator. Religious, male Republicans and those who were making over $100,000 reported the best mental health at the end of 2021. One could almost deduce prosperity, safety, and security are primary drivers of a nation’s mental health and satisfaction.
While left-leaning Gallup attempts to put lipstick on a pig by saying satisfaction with the direction of the country is related to party affiliation, only 30% of Democrats report this feeling. By contrast, at the beginning of 2020, 72% of Republicans felt satisfied with the direction of the country, and a record 61% of all Americans said they were better off than they were three years prior. All of these measures fell during the pandemic, showing just how much COVID-19 and the media narrative impacted the 2020 Election. As James Carville was fond of saying, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Gallup admits “approval is muted among all partisans.” That is evident in dozens of polls, with many commentators wondering how low they can go. The mere 30% expressing satisfaction with the direction of the nation may be an indicator of President Biden’s actual floor — the approval number he may not sink below. That is a historically low number.
Large majorities of Republicans and independents report they are not merely dissatisfied; among those who identify as Republicans, 72% are very dissatisfied, along with 54% of independents. Satisfaction with the direction of the country has fallen steadily since March of 2020 and peaked for Biden in May at 36%. This score is nine points below President Trump’s high of 45% in February of 2020. As most polls are showing, the views of independents are trending more toward Republicans on several key measures.
None of this bodes well for Democrats in the midterms, and the administration continues to flounder. Majorities of Americans disagree with most of President Biden’s domestic and foreign policy agenda when they get polled. So, last night the administration pivoted back to Biden’s Cancer Moonshot, as if that is top of mind for most of the nation. To date, President Biden can’t keep the Russians out of Ukraine, China from menacing Taiwan, ISIS from reemerging, or Americans from getting stuck in Afghanistan. Maybe he needs to concentrate on making us safer and more secure before he makes another desperate pivot.
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