December 24, 2015
optimism, unity, and a renewed faith in our “leaders”?
look for it in 2015’s poll data. Throughout the year, surveys consistently
revealed a populace that’s cynical, divided, and discouraged.
dawned, the chief executive was “underwater” on Gallup’s scorecard, with 50 percent disapproving of
his performance and 46 percent satisfied. The San Bernardino massacre and the
threat of further terrorism here at home surely played a role in Obama’s subpar
numbers. But he started the year with
an approval rating of only 46 percent. A recovered stock market, a record run
of private-sector job creation, and once-unimaginably cheap gasoline can’t buy
Obama much love. In his defense, the gloom extends beyond the guy in the White
House. The “Direction of Country” index compiled
yields a dismal spread of -43.5.
relations aren’t helping the right track-wrong track ratio. In a July poll, the Pew Research Center reported that “50 percent say that racism
is a big problem in our society today. Five years ago, just 33 percent of
Americans identified racism as a big problem, and in January 2009, only about a
quarter (26 percent) said this.”
sense of personal safety declined, too. The 2015 American Values Survey, conducted by the Public
Religion Research Institute, found that compared to 2012, the “number of
Americans saying crime is a major problem in their community jumped 15 percentage
points (up from 33 percent to 48 percent).” Neither news organizations (47
percent) nor large business corporations (46 percent) enjoyed “some” or “a
great deal” of confidence. The institute found that even organized religion’s
support stood at a less-than-impressive 55 percent.
November, a poll by The Wall Street
Journal and NBC News found 69 percent of respondents angry that “our
political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power
… rather than working to help everyday people get ahead.” Pew’s trust-in-government
the same month, yielded similar results. “Currently, just 19 percent say they
can trust the government always or most of the time, among the lowest levels in
the past half-century.” (A stunningly low 28 percent of self-identified liberals trust Washington.) Only “20
percent would describe government programs as being well-run. And elected
officials are held in such low regard that 55 percent of the public says
‘ordinary Americans’ would do a better job of solving national problems.”
the young and supposedly idealistic, in March, Harvard asked 3,034 18-to-29-year-olds
about politics and “public service.”
Six in ten thought that “elected officials seem to be motivated by selfish
reasons.” Just three in ten believed that “running for office is an honorable
thing to do.” More than half agreed that “elected officials don’t seem to have
the same priorities I have.” And a mere 28 percent considered the “idea of
working in some form of public service” appealing.
Hillary? Take solace in the steady stream of 2015 polls that documented her unlikability.
In May, Quinnipiac found that only 38 percent of those surveyed considered her
“trustworthy and honest.” A few months later, the university’s pollsters documented
her significant weaknesses in the key swing states of Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia.
September, ABC News and The Washington
Post showed her unfavorability to be 53 percent nationally, “the highest
since April 2008.” The following month, NBC News and The Wall Street Journal revealed that a paltry “35 percent held
favorable views of Mrs. Clinton in Iowa, compared with 59 percent who viewed
her unfavorably -- a difference of 24 percentage points. In New Hampshire, the
gap was 23 points.”
December, Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart
Eschewing head-to-head matchups, and examining the view from orbit, he warned that
his party has “some significant work to do to retain the presidency for four
more years.” Nearly three-quarters of those polled “want the next
president to take a different approach from Barack Obama. That’s identical to
late 2007, when 73 percent favored taking a different approach from George W.
Bush.” Voters’ top concern is national security, a shift that favors the GOP.
Clinton’s support from independents, at 32 percent, “is not stellar.” Finally,
regarding the economy, “the key issue will be economic growth rather than
economic fairness.” Not good for a candidate running on Elizabeth’s Warren flaky rhetoric. Hillary Clinton is such a lousy
candidate, most polls show that Donald
Trump is within striking distance.
are sour and surly as 2015 comes to a close. It’s going be a bumpy 2016.
D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.
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