True, it’s just a slight margin in the direction of positive perceptions, but a CNN/ORC poll conducted the weekend before Thanksgiving finds that for the first time in seven years, “a majority of Americans think things are going well in the nation.”
“It's a slim majority – just 52 percent of Americans said things are going well, while 48 percent said things are going badly – but it's the most positive appraisal of the state of the nation that the poll has found since January of 2007,” CNN reports. “And it marks consistent improvement in the mood of the nation over the past few months, despite a series of national security crises and continued gridlock in Washington.” The number ticked upward from 50 percent in September.
Similarly, Gallup sees the gap between Americans who see themselves as “thriving” and those who say they’re “struggling” as widening in a positive direction (56-41 percent this past week). Three months earlier, the gap was narrower (51-44 percent).
One example here: “Fewer Americans say they are struggling to afford food now than did so during the depths of the recession. On average, 17.2 percent of U.S. adults so far in 2014 report that in the last 12 months they have struggled to afford food for themselves or their families. This percentage is on track to be the lowest measured since the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index started in 2008.”
Gallup also finds that its Economic Confidence Index, which averages both American's views of current economic conditions and whether they think the economy will get better or will get worse, “remains one of the most positive weekly averages since Gallup began tracking economic confidence daily in 2008.”
Still, it’s not all sweetness and light, according to Gallup.
Sixty-three percent of those polled believe there is more crime in the US than there was a year ago, and 37 percent say they don’t feel safe walking near home at night.
And of course there’s the national political divide which has intensified in tone as it grows wider.
“There is nothing new about Republicans disliking the Democratic Party or, conversely, Democrats not liking the GOP. But the level of antipathy that members of each party feel toward the opposing party has surged over the past two decades,” the Pew Research Center reported in June. “Not only do greater numbers of those in both parties have negative views of the other side, those negative views are increasingly intense. And today, many go so far as to say that the opposing party’s policies threaten the nation’s well-being.”
Breaking apart that new CNN/ORC poll reveals interesting statistics, including a gender and geographic divide, reports CNN:
Men are both more positive about the state of the nation and the economy than women, the poll shows. Fifty-five percent of men say things are going well in America, compared to 48 percent of women who say the same; 36 percent of men believe the economy is recovering, while only 28 percent of women say the same.
And economic conditions appear to be better in the Northeast and Midwest than they are in the southern and western parts of the nation, as respondents are more likely in those regions to say the economy is improving. They're also more likely to say that things are going well than their counterparts in the South and West.
But if you’re looking for a scrap of good news to be grateful for this Thanksgiving weekend, that new CNN/ORC poll about public attitudes regarding individual well-being may just provide it.